Even the historic, 135-year-old Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — will be among the ministry venues as Southern Baptists engage in Crossover Louisville '09.
Now in its twenty-first year, Crossover is an evangelistic thrust to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ the week before the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in each year's host city.
Crossover Louisville '09 will kick off with Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) on Sunday, June 14, and will culminate the June 19-20 weekend prior to the June 23-24 SBC annual meeting at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Crossover will be jointly sponsored by the SBC's North American Mission Board, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and the Long Run Baptist Association in Louisville.
"Our objective is to share Jesus and have a lasting impact on metro Louisville," said Charles Barnes, longtime Baptist lay leader in Louisville, retired banking executive, and chairman of the Crossover Louisville '09 steering committee.
"We're not interested in things that will have some glamour for only a week or so and then die," Barnes said. "We want to go at things in a way that will not only win people to Christ but will disciple them thereafter. Hopefully, out of Crossover '09's block parties and festivals, we will not only have decisions for Christ but will have new churches that will emerge. We hope it will spark us to a new era of growth among all our churches and as a catalyst to move forward more aggressively."
Barnes said the Long Run Baptist Association includes some 160 Southern Baptist churches, and about forty of them will participate in thirty-two block parties in various Louisville neighborhoods. Five churches will band together for a single block party in Veterans Park in the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown.
Hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers from around the nation are expected to come to Louisville to support Crossover events-the block parties, an international fair featuring nine different ethnic groups, a separate Hispanic fair, and door-to-door evangelism by ICE (Intentional Community Evangelism) team volunteers from NAMB and across the country.
Metro Louisville's population of about one million includes some fifty thousand Hispanics, with several hundred living right around Churchill Downs, working as jockeys, trainers, groomers, and in other capacities, said Joshua Del Risco, NAMB's coordinator for multiethnic evangelism in Alpharetta, Georgia.
With help from Yurian Santiesteban, Southern Baptist chaplain at Churchill Downs, Crossover volunteers will visit the racetrack, witness to the Hispanic horsemen, and invite them to nightly revival services at ten area Hispanic churches, including a new church plant located almost across the street from Churchill Downs, Iglesia Bautista Victoria (Victory Baptist Church).
"When we leave Louisville, these ten young Hispanic churches will be expected to continue their growth and keep implementing the things we learned during Crossover," Del Risco said.
Walnut Street Baptist Church will be the host church for the Crossover initiative, with eight other churches serving as ICE "anchor churches": Galilee Baptist Church, Bible Community Fellowship, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Guiding Light Baptist Church, Hunsinger Lane Baptist Church, Immanuel Baptist Church, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, and Temple of Faith Baptist Church.
Victor Benavides, coordinator of urban evangelism for NAMB, said planners are praying for at least two thousand salvation decisions and six to eight new church plants resulting from Crossover in Louisville.
"This is an opportunity for Southern Baptists to be a part of something God is doing," Benavides said. "Crossover is an evangelistic effort in a small window when we can go out there and win people for Christ. It will show us what the revival of a spiritual awakening could be like if we got out there and did it on a regular basis. We want people not just to pray for revival, but to get involved in it by coming to Louisville and sharing the Gospel with a lost person."
Since Crossover originated during the SBC annual meeting in Las Vegas in 1989, more than forty-one thousand individuals have prayed to receive Christ.
For more information about Crossover Louisville '09, to register as a volunteer, or to participate in Intentional Community Evangelism, go to www.crossoverlouisville.com.