We are those who know that God’s imperishable seed sown in a human heart creates life. Our fellowship began with God’s seed planted in the hearts of three young men leaving a Pathways (Cursillo) retreat on the West Shore of Flathead Lake, in the spring of 1995. John Creamer, John VanArendonk and David Morris found their hearts burning for more of what they’d just experienced together: authentic, Biblical Christianity with meaningful fellowship inspired by contemporary worship, grounded in solid Gospel teaching, in a relaxed informal setting. Who we are goes back to that moment in time.

Carl Herndon, a fellow believer with similar aspirations, organized a series of meetings with the other three in his home office. They prayed and searched for a way to continue in the Spirit of that meaningful weekend retreat. Beginning on June 25th, 1995, these four drew other like-minded believers to worship and Bible teaching on Sunday evenings at the Swan River Hall. Within weeks, the explosion of attendees pressed them to consider what God was doing—none of them had ever intended to start a church.

With the fellowship taking on a life of its own, they asked Charlie Owens to become our first pastor. Charlie was a gifted, visionary Bible teacher who had recently moved to the area from southern California to start a para-church ministry. Together, they became the Horizon Christian Fellowship of Bigfork, Montana: an independent, non-denominational community Bible church.

Two years later, in 1997, a young Randy Passons was called to minister to the church’s burgeoning youth. Serving faithfully in different roles under each successive administration, Randy has become the living repository of our corporate memory. He has known the joys & heartbreaks, the beginning & endings, our exuberant growth & devastating crises. His tenacious enthusiasm has fused with courage and humility, modeling our need of the same in order to embrace the “much more” God has for us.

The national crisis of September 11, 2001, uniquely impacted us. Our leadership struggled to find God’s way in the conflict that erupted between elder leadership and what our pastor sensed as God’s higher, though unsolicited call on him… leading to Charlie’s departure, splitting the church.  Hal Curtis was asked to father us through that crisis. Blending a strong witness of what it is like to be Spirit-led with his passion for Biblical manhood operating under authority, Hal’s was a season of fathering men spiritually, seeking to strengthen both the church and the nation.

We became Crossroads Christian Fellowship:  that name dropping like a bright seed into Randy’s heart as he considered the parallel between our physical location and our opportunity to be the place where people could find God’s help, when they reach a crossroad in their lives. Under the leadership of Charlie Shields, our beloved elder, we ended our wandering from one rented facility to another, to finally build a home at the Crossroads of Highways 35, 82 and 83, enabling us to better serve our community.

Upon Hal’s retirement, Mel Haug came to us, his ministry marked by his rich musical gift and his warm outgoing nature. Mel inspired the closing-in of our portico, creating the atrium where he envisioned us lingering after every service. To this day, his vision continues to strengthen our fellowship, encouraging our sense of belonging to each other.

With another crisis and another split, God showed us our desperate need to learn how to walk in both holiness and love… without sacrificing one for the other. At that time, God brought us Mike Chong Perkinson. A spiritual warrior, a powerful teacher, an intimate with God, Mike’s season incarnated the reality of Jesus’ patience redeeming a broken life. Mike taught us that as needful as the strong horizontal element of fellowship with one-another is—as in the cross—that fellowship must be fastened on our primary, vertical relationship with our Holy God.

When Mike was called to another church, it was our loss and their gain, but we became eager to see who God would bring to us.  In June of 2020, with a spark in his eyes, Jerry Praetzel became our interim pastor. His season of caring for us was marked by his tender heart and missionary zeal, his unabashed love for Jesus and his earnest contention for the Holy Spirit’s work in our midst.   Like a foster dad, he loved us, knowing we were not his to keep but only to care for until God brought us our next shepherd.  

When the raging inferno of a California forest fire burns down the house you just sold to move to Bigfork, Montana… it is a humbling but strong sign that your story is moving forward and there is no going back. Paul Bernard’s arrival as our new pastor in June of 2021 has been significant. His easy way and strong relational skills pair with his deep familiarity of Scripture to bring the word alive.  Unassuming and yet anointed, a strong leader and yet always open to guidance, quick to discern but slow to judge, uncompromising in his integrity and yet gently wise in his approach to all problems…  in Paul the lessons of our past collude to bring us grateful insight.

It feels like we are becoming who we were always meant-to-be, sharing this incredible spiritual journey that just keeps getting more intensely and obviously of God than ever before.

Who are we? We are a fellowship that has known highs and lows, crisis and heartbreaking splits, failures and victories, hard lessons and new beginnings. We are witnesses of God’s patience and power at work—grateful for the life breathed into us by each of His servants, too many to be named here, both lay and pastoral leaders alike.

Who are we?  We are a fellowship first envisioned in the burning hearts of four young men, many years ago. We aspire to authentic, Biblical Christianity with meaningful fellowship inspired by contemporary worship, grounded in solid Gospel teaching, in a relaxed informal setting.  We are witnesses to the power of God’s imperishable seed planted in human hearts.