Welcome to the Family, CrossHaven Church

Belleville Sign 309

I am excited to inform you that CrossHaven Church in Belleville, IL has been adopted into the Sovereign Grace family of churches!

Last month the Midwest-Northwest Regional Assembly of Elders unanimously voted to adopt CrossHaven and in doing so receive their elders, Chris Oswald, Rodney Fickas, and Victor Chininin Buele into Sovereign Grace. We asked Chris Oswald to briefly share how God moved CrossHaven to join Sovereign Grace and to give some reasons why he is excited about our partnership:

Rodney Fickas and I planted CrossHaven without outside funding. While that isn’t an approach I’d now recommend, God has more than redeemed our impatience.

Since we were both working full-time jobs, a lot of our dreaming and vision-casting happened online. Multiple times a week, we’d shoot emails back and forth saying, “check out this song, we should sing this at CrossHaven” or “listen to this conference message, this guy is nailing it.” Nine times out of ten, we’d trace these songs and sermons back to this group called Sovereign Grace. Thus, Sovereign Grace informally influenced our culture from the very beginning. I suspect there are a lot of churches out there with a similar experience.

We came to believe that Jesus’s vision for His bride includes extra-local connectivity and cooperation between local churches. We also came to believe that we were called to give to and not just take from this network of churches. About 18 months after the initial launch of CrossHaven, we contacted Sovereign Grace to explore adoption.

Shortly thereafter, a pastor from all the way up in Minnesota called me. I vividly remember sitting in my car on my lunch break sensing the Spirit at work in Rick Gamache. He and Jon Hansel served us from the very beginning. I cannot express how much I respect these men. When, in the midst of the adoption process, CrossHaven observed the difficulties Sovereign Grace was experiencing, I was able to assure the plurality of leaders and the congregation that I was absolutely resolute. I was going to walk with Rick Gamache in gospel partnership no matter what.

Earlier this month, we attended the Midwest-Northwest Regional Assembly of Elders where we were officially adopted into the Sovereign Grace family of churches. On the drive back to St. Louis, Rodney and I praised God for His kindness to us. Somewhere in Iowa, the Lord led us to schedule a six-day fast for the purpose of renewing our resolve and raising our expectations for the spread of Jesus’s fame in the St. Louis metro. As I write this, we are on day four of six and the Spirit is working in our midst.

During the retreat, we were excited to get to know Ian McConnell and hear how the Lord is using him throughout Sovereign Grace and specifically at Grace City in Philly. St. Louis and Philly have a blue-collar ethos in common and I’m excited to apply some of what Ian’s doing at Grace City to our work in our metro. I must admit I’m a little jealous of his beard, but I am certain that he is far more jealous of my baseball team.

CrossHaven is under four hours away from Louisville, so I hope to take advantage of our proximity by attending as many classes at the Pastors College as possible. I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospect of receiving fresh encouragement through theological education. In many ways, this adoption feels like a new beginning. Which is to say, it feels like grace —because it is.

Amen, Chris. It is all grace, and we are thrilled to welcome you into the Sovereign Grace family.

Join me in praying for CrossHaven Church asking God to bless their labors for the gospel in the St. Louis area.


Mark Prater is the Executive Director for Sovereign Grace and serves as an elder at Covenant Fellowship Church. He and his wife, Jill, have three married daughters and a growing number of grandchildren.