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Through the ages

THE CHURCH OF THE CROSS ROOTED IN THE PAST, EMBRACING THE FUTURE

On June 27, The Church of the Cross marked 165 years since construction began on its eye-catching, Gothicstyle building on the edge of the May River in Bluffton.

The historic church survived not only the burning of Bluffton during the Civil War, but also the hurricane of 1898 and other storms over the years.

Padre1Now led by the Rev. Dr. Chuck Owens, Pastor Jonathan Riddle and Pastor Juan Rivera, the Anglican church is committed to its mission: “Rooted in the Past, Sheltering the Present, Reaching Out to the Future, Empowered by the God of the Ages.” The church’s vision is “to be followers of Jesus committed to transforming lives in His power and for His glory.”

The church has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, it offers five services at its two campuses — the original building on Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton and at its Cross Schools campus on Buckwalter Parkway — including contemporary, traditional and blended styles of worship. And it’s expanding its Cross Schools campus to include a new chapel that will seat more than 500 people when construction is complete in December. It’s all part of the effort to keep up with the changing Lowcountry community.

“The contrast between our two campuses is as dramatic as Bluffton when I came 23 years ago and Bluffton today,” Owens said. “Not so with the thousands who regularly cross our thresholds. As always, they come with hopes and hurts, problems and possibilities, seeking the unchanging love of Christ … and praise God, they’re finding it.”

The Church of the Cross has more than 90 different lay ministries, serving people locally, nationally and around the world. In June, more than 450 children and volunteers participated in the church’s Vacation Bible School, while on Wednesdays in July, the church hosted Bible studies for all ages. The church also offers an American Heritage Girls ministry, which is open to girls ages 5 and older.

The church’s food bank feeds between 80 and 110 people every week and is open to the public from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Mondays at 15A Centre Drive, next door to another one of the church’s ministries, God’s Goods Thrift Store.

Since opening its doors in July 2010, God’s Goods has funded about $2.5 million in local and global missions through the church. One of the mission teams has made several trips to Russia, taking supplies and ministering to foster children and parents in Hope for Life Homes.

In May, The Church of the Cross launched a Hispanic ministry, Misión Cristiana de la Cruz, which offers ESL classes at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays and 7 p.m. Thursdays in the church parish hall. There are currently more than 50 people enrolled in the classes.

One of the church’s biggest ministries is Cross Schools. Established in 1998 with only seven students, the school now has more than 500 children in preschool through eighth grade. Grade 9 will be added in 2020, and a full high school will come after that. The school also offers after-school and summer camp programs.

IF YOU GO

The Church of the Cross has two locations — the historic campus at 110 Calhoun St. in Old Town Bluffton and the Cross Schools campus at 495 Buckwalter Parkway. For more information about the church, go to thechurchofthecross.net, email info@thechurchofthecross.net or call 843-757- 2661. For information about Cross Schools, go to www.crossschools.org.