by Larry R. Hygh Jr., Ed.D.*
COMPTON, Calif. – “They can’t, they won’t, they never will stop the party…This is God’s party,” declared Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth preaching for the 30th anniversary celebration of ministry for Crossroads United Methodist Church (UMC) in Compton, California, on Sunday, December 4, 2022. Bridgeforth was recently elected and consecrated bishop and will begin serving the Greater Northwest Area on January 1, a UMC region that includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and small parts of Canada as well.
Bridgeforth preached from Nehemiah 2:18 asking the congregation to focus on a cup bearer, a question, and a revelation. He says, “A cup bearer is an essential worker.” He asked those gathered, “What if you took seriously your role as the cup bearer for Compton? Are you willing to stand between life and death?” He interspersed the words from rapper Pitbull’s song, “Don’t Stop the Party,” with the rebuilding story in Nehemiah.
Bridgeforth is a “Son of Crossroads (UMC)” with his first ministry assignment while in seminary at Claremont School of Theology at Crossroads. The first time he preached in Southern California was at the church. It was fitting that his last preaching engagement in Southern California before beginning his episcopal assignment was at Crossroads to celebrate their 30 years of ministry, where he began.
During the worship celebration a vision was unveiled for “Blake at Crossroads Compton,” a multi-use development that could include 50 to 60 affordable housing apartment units, and a multipurpose worship center. Dr. Adrienne Zackery, the senior pastor of Crossroads, says, “This congregation’s ministry and DNA insist that it remains committed to being salt and light at 130th and Wilmington in, for, and with the community.” Zackery wants the congregation to reimagine ministry and worship in a new context. “The current ministry opportunity in the Compton area and surrounding corridors are in the areas of economic development, job readiness, housing, education, and educational parity when compared with similar areas throughout the County of Los Angeles.”
Crossroads began 30 years ago as a merger of two UMC congregations, Enterprise UMC, and St. Peter’s UMC. Zackery says, “We function as a hub in the heart of the greater South Los Angeles region.”
The church launched the Karen Henry Clinic and has assisted more than 1,100 people with criminal records with expungement. Crossroads also houses the Dignity Center providing assistance for more than 400 homeless individuals, 350 children in the foster care system, and 340 persons who are food insecure. The church is involved with vocational training hosting solar installation, and heavy equipment training, with 90 percent of people leaving the training with employment and a start date.
Zackery says, “We look forward to what God has in store for us, the future looks brighter and brighter.” There are plans for new ministry that includes a family reunification program and outreach to LGBTQ youth.
Crossroads’ founding pastor who merged the two congregations, the Rev. Dr. Lydia J. Waters, as well as Compton Mayor Emma Sharif, were on hand for the festivities. In addition to honoring Dr. Waters, the church honored four pastors that have emanated from their ministry in the past 30 years beginning as student interns, including both Bridgeforth and Zackery.
*Hygh is a lifelong United Methodist and former United Methodist communicator who is now a communications professor at California State University Dominguez Hills.