This Sunday, December 13, Paul Manansala launches the first service of Crossroad Community Church in the heart of Jersey City’s West Side.
Born in Jersey City, Paul grew up going to the church his father started. Crossroad Community Church is a continuation of that legacy — a legacy of showing his home city the healing grace of God. (His story and preparation for church planting can be found here.)
Paul seeks to plant a church in the West Side “partly for sentimental reasons.” His wife, Hazel, grew up there, and like the downtown Jersey City neighborhood where he grew up, the West Side is very family-oriented, with multiple generations and cultures living side by side. But the location was also a very strategic choice.
“I want to build a church that will meet you where you’re at, in the same way the grace of God is available to anybody,” says Paul. The location for the first preview service is easy to access by bus lines traveling to and from Journal Square, and within walking distance from McGinley Square. The neighborhood, too, is extremely diverse, across socio-economic, cultural, and generational lines. Wealthier homeowners live side by side with people struggling to make rent. Many first-generation immigrants have moved here from different areas around the globe. Baby strollers, teenagers and grandparents all share the same sidewalk.
Even though there is so much diversity in the neighborhood, Paul says that people still tend to be segregated when it comes time to attend church. He wants the new church to bring these groups together, loving and serving side by side. And, by planting a church in such a geographic and cultural center, Paul hopes to take the first step toward building many churches across Jersey City.
The location comes with risks as well as opportunities. The West Side is known for its level of crime, and has been described as a “different world” from the more gentrified downtown Jersey City area. Just last Saturday, a man was stabbed to death while aiding a victim of assault. This latest homicide occurred a block away from the food pantry where Paul serves, and a block away from New City Kids. The reality is that for many people here, “it’s a grind through life just to survive”; even without the crime, young families struggle to provide for the basic needs of their children. But while there are many battles to fight, Paul sees an opportunity to bring people to God and trusts Him to work in ways that people can’t.
The first preview service is at 10:30 a.m. on December 13, at 115 Glenwood Avenue, and will feature worship music, a message, and children’s services. Preview services will be held monthly until Easter, when the church formally launches with weekly services.