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Click on names to learn about people in our community, and how they’re Finding Their Way Back to God.
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We are Sam and Jenelle Walker and we have been a part of Crossings for over a decade, first as individual college students and now as a family of 5 (Nora, Anna, Remington). We are part of the North community that meets a couple of blocks away from our house at Christenberry Elementary. We find great value in living so close to where we worship and where our daughter goes to school. Our kids also have thrived as a part of a community that so clearly shows them that they are a vital and important part of it. This has even more significance to us because we live far away from our extended families. Our hope is that our kids continue to feel support from us, their faith community, and their school and neighborhood and that these layers can continue to overlap.
Hello! We are John and Kelsie McGlothin, and we joined Crossings in 2018. We met and fell in love in Chattanooga while both training to be mental health therapists and are now working as counselors in Knoxville. As an Adoption Support and Preservation family therapist, John serves families who have adopted children, both through the foster system and through private adoption. Kelsie works as a therapist at Haven Counseling Center in Bearden, and specializes in trauma healing and recovery. We both have different reasons, different stories, different wounds that led us to into the mental health field. Like many, our individual experiences of seeking God have included times that vary from abundant to lacking, but we both feel strongly that this is the work God would have us do in furthering his kingdom. At a time when John was in great need as a teenager, a camp counselor accepted and invested in him. Now, John has a belief that relationships — steady, compassionate and often silly — have incredible power to heal. This enables him to sit with, talk with, play with parents and kids who are struggling. Kelsie sees her job as a way to gently illuminate and soothe the parts of us that hold shame, pain, grief and fear. As someone who suffered with OCD and anxiety without appropriate intervention or explanation for a significant portion of her life, Kelsie now feels particular joy in expressing a message of “You’re ok, and we’ll figure this out together.” To have this opportunity to be the hands and feet, and hopefully the heart, of Christ is the joy and glory of God to us. On a less philosophical but still important note, our lives are also filled with our huge Pyrador puppy Laurel, genuine friends, silly and sweet nieces and nephews, and lots of coffee!”
Hi, my name is Ashley Cutshall, and I am an ESL teacher at a Knox County middle school which has the highest population of English Language Learners of and middle School in Knoxville. My students are navigating their whole world in a language and culture that isn’t familiar to them. A lot of people think that I teach grammar all day or that I spend most of my class time translating for students, but that is definitely not the case. Most of what I do at the middle school level is teaching them grade level concepts at a proficiency level that is appropriate for that group of students. We practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing and set goals to reach new proficiency levels. Working with a variety of cultures has taught me so much. I’d say the number one thing I’ve learned is how much of a privilege it is to be a part of a multicultural community. I waltzed in to this job thinking, of course they will love me. I’m a really nice white lady. I just assumed my students would love me. But it’s taken years to build trust. My first year teaching, I had limited family engagement and I think that’s because I never stopped and asked “How does this community feel with me being a part of it?” I’ve built trust by committing to this community and learning from the leaders already in the community (i.e. parents!) I am truly working on being first a learner, and then a teacher. I feel like I get to seek out the Kingdom of God in my job by helping my students of all languages and cultures to feel comfortable showing up at school in the wholeness of their own selves, create a sense of belonging for them, and reassuring them of their importance and value in our community.
When introduced together to someone new and the question is asked about how we met, “In prison,” is the standard refrain; it’s a scratch on the conversational record that skips us to a social justice issue we both care deeply about. Our winding way, first apart, now together travels through the most unlikely of places; prisons and jails and through the locks, walls and razor wire into the hearts of the incarcerated. You see, everyone matters to God regardless of what they’ve done, no one is beyond redemption and restoration: there simply are no disposable people. What if you were only ever known by the worst mistake you ever made? The men, women and youth in custody are reminded continually of their offenses by just about every minute and detail of their life behind bars. For us, moving from the abstract (prisoner) to the personal and known has moved the waypoints on our journey. Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy) insists you have to, “get proximate to the problem.” Hutch, Hicks, D-White, Iron Head, Keith, Ronnie Slim, Deli, Sandra, Cindy, Sabrina – each name recalls a face, a heart, a life that matters. Little by little we come to know each other, we tell our stories from level ground, not about what we’ve done but who we are, and who we are becoming, exhorting one another, not alone, but in community, to love, redemption, restoration, and good works. Working to make prison a place of shalom, where the wounded can find healing, is a driving force and source of joy in our life. We were married under the arch outside of Café 4 in August of 2019, on a Sunday morning in-between Crossings’ services. We love our life in The Knox – the Gay Street Gingers – Graffiti Alley and Market Square in the back yard and Cruze Farms in the front. For us, early mornings are for coffee and the sharing of words read in the books shelved and stacked about, days for work at the 4th Purpose Foundation, nights for Schitt’s Creek, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or a walk down to the river; weekends for mountain hiking and flower seeking. We are rich in daughters having 4: Miranda, Madelyn, Callie and Emily. We are exceeding grateful for our life in the Crossings Community – come visit us downtown, we love to cook and break bread around the table.
Soon after becoming Christians we began more than 30 years of intense involvement in the Christian community through both churches and non-profit organizations. Our hearts goal was to bring the hope, freedom and unity with God that is available to all the world through relationship with Christ. Then after those 30 plus years of what seemed to be successful Christian work, we both had powerful encounters with God within a 24-hour period. Those encounters altered the trajectory of our lives changing how we engage in our relationships with each other, our family, our friends, and with God. Prior to the time of our encounters much of what we did stemmed from a mindset of very “Black and White/Right and Wrong” thinking. In many ways that made life simple making judgements about people and situations easy. It also made it easy when working with those in distress to simply offer good biblical advice and then disengage from their situation. Our times of encounter changed all of that radically. God showed us that His pleasure isn’t in what we do but rather in who we are. That sounds fundamental enough, but it took on great depth when God started asking us to explore these questions: 1) Who am I? 2) What caused my distortions? 3) What needs to change for me to reflect Him more clearly? Our journey to discover answers to those questions altered our hearts toward ourselves and other people. First, we discovered our own stories and how they impact the ways we engage our world and God. This made us curious about how the stories of others have impacted their lives. Our new journey with God has led us from: “Certainty” to “Curiosity” “Having answers” to “Asking Questions” “Working for God” to “Resting in God” “Talking” to “Listening”