We have updated our Privacy Policy to provide you a better online experience.

Church's Repurposing of Historic School Gains Community's Attention, Appreciation

When Crosspoint Church in Waverly, Iowa, decided to purchase the town's old school for its new home, the community was more than pleased.

It was a 100-year-old, three-story, 63,000-square-foot former junior high school that investors were considering turning into low-income housing. The proposition seemed questionable as the old school needed multiple major repairs and upgrades. Also, for many of the residents of Waverly, Iowa, it was down those very school halls they had once walked — along with their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents . . .

The historic and sentimental value of the school was priceless. To many members of the community, housing didn’t seem like the right answer and there was a growing uneasiness concerning the school’s future.


When Jonathan Barthalow and his wife, Erica, became the first pastors of Crosspoint Church, which began as a group of families meeting together, the church experienced steady and strong growth, quickly transitioning from a house church to a strip mall location.

“We were a PAC (parent affiliated church) through Berean Assembly in Des Moines,” Jonathan says. “The goal was to be an autonomous church within a year (by April 2015), which we achieved.”

In 2017, now averaging 350 in attendance, Crosspoint Church stunned the community when it stepped forward with an offer to buy the school building from the investors for its new home. It was as if the community let out a collective sigh of relief.

“The good will and publicity we received were amazing,” Jonathan says. “People were talking about it everywhere, the local newspaper came out, the Waterloo newspaper did a story, and KWWL television came and did two or three stories.”

In a community of 10,000, it doesn’t take long for big news to spread. Within a year of the announcement, the church was averaging 475, with appreciation for what was being done to repurpose the school striking a deep and favorable cord with city leaders and the community in general.

And with that favor, even with the COVID-year hiccup, Crosspoint has continued to grow, now averaging nearly 600 each Sunday.

“When we first purchased the building, it seemed enormous,” Jonathan says, “but now there are very few rooms not utilized — it’s a 100-year-old historic building turned into a beautiful place of worship.”


Although the school was and still is big news for Waverly, the church began a unique program originally designed to bring up more worship leaders in the church.

“A year ago, we started Crosspoint School of Arts,” Jonathan says. “But as we were originally exploring its launch for the church, we found that there was a lot of community interest in music as well. So, today we have 150 students — 50% from the church, 50% from the community — taking vocal or musical instrument lessons, with students ranging in ages from preschoolers to those well into retirement years.”

Headed by Crosspoint’s creative arts pastor, Fisher Woodley, the school has already begun providing a steady stream of worship team members for the kids, youth, and adult worship services, while also helping community members pursue their musical dreams.

“There are a lot of amazing things about the school,” Woodley says. “It’s ignited a passion in some and reignited a passion for music in others. It’s also bringing the community into the church, opening the doors, and making it more accessible. I’ve definitely seen people come to the church who haven’t before because their kids are in lessons.”

“The primary purpose of the school is providing vocal and musical lessons,” Jonathan says, “but it’s also another key point of contact with the community.”

Woodley notes that along with teaching everything from the banjo and ukulele to the piano and more traditional band instruments, the school has led to the Crosspoint children’s church now having its first-ever worship team made up of other children.

“Another really cool side product is that the school is bringing the community churches together,” Woodley says. “We have 20 instructors who span five different churches.”


“After 18 ½ years of teaching at the University of Valley Forge, I finished teaching my last class in December 2019 and three days later we were unloading our furniture in Waverly.”

In a nutshell, that’s how one of the most well-known and highly regarded children’s pastors in the Assemblies of God came to join the staff of Crosspoint Church. Dick Gruber says it was a friend who gave pastor Jonathan a copy of his resumé that got the conversation started during the 2019 General Council, which ultimately led to him joining the Crosspoint staff.

Gruber, known for wearing red high-top Converse canvas tennis shoes on every occasion, says he’s seen the community respond strongly in a positive manner to church outreaches and initiatives.

“I’ve personally given dozens of tours of the church to people over the last three years – many who’ve said they used to attend the school and want to see what we’ve done,” he says. “Even our chamber of commerce president brings visiting chamber of commerce people over here and asks us to give them a tour of the building – everyone has loved what we have done with it.”

Currently Gruber says more than 100 kids are in the church’s children’s program on a weekly basis along with 40 volunteers. He then makes a key point, which reflects directly on the health and giving/servanthood mentality of the church.

“We have a total of 130 people who volunteer on a rotating basis in the children’s areas,” he says. “In fact, last summer during our VBS, we had 150 kids attend and 128 volunteers — that’s just incredible! The Lord has just blessed us (with volunteers).”

Gruber, who isn’t shy about teaching kids about the Holy Spirit, says he sees the same thing in the youth area, led by pastor Madison Metcalf.

“She’s dynamite,” he says. “I’m excited about promoting kids into youth group – she’s full of the Holy Spirit and passes that passion on to the kids. She started in 2020 with 50 to 60 kids in youth and they’re now running a solid 150-160.

“I tell you what,” adds Gruber, in what certainly echoes others’ thoughts concerning Crosspoint, “I’m glad I’m here.”


Erica Barthalow leads the women’s ministry at Crosspoint Church. Yet, what sets her apart and helps her connect with women in the church and community began decades ago when she and Jonathan were missionaries to India.

In brief, her experiences have enabled her to empathize with women who feel isolated, lost, whose faith is being challenged to the breaking point, or who may even feel their life is at a breaking point.

“I was in this place (a mountainside in India) trying to be obedient to God and I felt abandoned by Him,” she admits. “But (through counseling) I found that even in the times it seems like He’s the most absent, He’s really there working things for good . . ., before that, I had a pretty limited and immature view of Him.”

However, now at Crosspoint, Erica says she’s seeing God working in lives regularly.

“Every week we hear amazing stories from the next generation — kids that love coming to church and telling their friends at school about Jesus,” she says. “And I really see a deep hunger for more of the Lord in the women of the church. We have Sisterhood small groups that meet throughout the year, with around 80 women involved on a regular basis.”

Erica believes that God placed people in her life who helped her make it through the difficult times in India. Today, through her life and the books she writes, she’s allowing God to use her as a person He can place in the lives of others facing difficult challenges.


Pastors are permitted to be excited about their staff and church, but one of the original founding members of the Crosspoint Church, Clint Whitcome, brings his own view to the table.

“Waverly was a community desperate for a healthy presentation and representation of the gospel,” he says. “People wanted something authentic, that didn’t shift with the culture, that stands firm in God’s Word . . . and that’s what Crosspoint provides.”

Whitcome, who sees a powerful vitality in the congregation, with people loving people and a focus on bringing up the next generation of leaders, says that simply reflects leadership.

“We have an incredible pastoral team here,” Whitcome says. “Pastor Jonathan is incredible at building teams; Lovensky Levasseur, our worship pastor, is amazing. Pastor Madison, who was highly coveted by Fortune 100 companies coming out of college, is a gifted communicator with wisdom far beyond her years — and she is our youth pastor. Our associate pastor (Dan Pattengill), PG (Gruber), and creative arts pastor (Woodley) . . . I can’t imagine a stronger staff. God has brought the right people onto the team at the right time. Every one of them is top of the line — they love God and produce fruits and I believe God has blessed us because of that.”

Whitcome, however, reserves his highest praise for the Barthalows.

“Erica is a woman after God’s heart. And Jonathan . . .,” Whitcome pauses. “I work for a Fortune 300 firm, and I’ve never had such a leader. My strongest year of leadership and spiritual development came under his leadership. Sometimes I ask myself, How does he have knowledge on that topic? Clearly he has a blessing of wisdom from God — he’s one of the wisest men I’ve ever met.”


Today, the once abandoned, but beloved, historic school is nearly totally renovated and teems with new life and the presence of God.

And with leaders who have a passion for God’s Word, who openly pursue the Holy Spirit, who welcome the working of the Spirit in their own lives and within the lives of the congregation, and a community that enjoys the church’s embrace, as Erica notes — “we just have to stay out of the Lord’s way.”


Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.