Seeds of a new church are planted

When Peter Westfield talks about starting a church, he uses the word “plant.”

Speaking of starting the Crossroads Fellowship of Connecticut, he said, “When I first planted this church the name seemed appropriate. Every person comes to a crossroads. Our calling is to point people to the cross of Jesus Christ.

“Now we are [literally] at the crossroads,” he said referring to the church’s physical location just east of Route 7, on Westport Road, near Norwalk and Westport.

And just as anything is planted and nurtured, Crossroads Fellowship has grown.

Begun about a year ago, the church held services at Trackside Teen Center until Feb. 16, when the congregation moved into 68 Westport Road, formerly the United Covenant Church, which disbanded last year.

Mr. Westfield, who is the church pastor, said the congregation has grown from a handful of people to about 30 over the past few months, some coming from as far as Darien and Trumbull.

“This location has been in my heart 25 to 30 years,” he said Friday in the sanctuary of the church. “This is where God wanted us to put a church. When the building became available we moved forward.”

The church is now renting the modern, light-filled building, with the hope of eventually purchasing it.

Crossroads Fellowship is a charismatic church. The word, Mr. Westfield said, comes from the Bible. “Charis means gifts,” he said. “It points to the experiences people have.”

It is related to the Pentecostal movement, drawn from the experience of Jesus’ disciples’ encounter with the Holy Spirit, causing them to speak in tongues.

“We would receive power to see the miraculous … the power of God in people’s lives” spiritually and physically, Mr. Westfield said, adding, “We have seen all kinds of miracles.”

A blinding light

The ministry was not Mr. Westfield’s first calling. When he was in his early 30s, he was living in Danbury with his wife and children and had his own business. Like many people, he began to question where his life was headed.

“I was raised a Catholic and believed in God, but didn’t understand what it was all about,” he said.

One day, while he was resting in his bedroom, he was overcome by a blinding white light.

“In that light was Jesus,” he said. “He didn’t say anything, but instantly I knew: He was God, he came to earth as man, he took on the sins of all men, he died and he rose from the dead.”

Mr. Westfield said at that moment he had a choice to accept or reject what he had just seen and learned. As he accepted, he felt a beam of light on his head and all the transgressions of his life flow out.

“I knew at that point when I died I was going to heaven to spend eternity with the Lord,” he said.

Mr. Westfield said he did not really know what had happened, and “my wife thought I’d lost my mind.”

He could not do the things he was used to doing. Watching television, for example, seemed trivial.

“All I wanted to do was read the Bible,” he said, and unlike previous attempts when he did not understand what he was reading, now it all made sense.

Mr. Westfield said for a time God spoke to him every day, and he learned that “God wants to lead us through our hearts.”

Eventually, Mr. Westfield said, he understood that God wanted him to give up his business and become a minister. He turned his business over to his partner, packed up his family and enrolled in Rhema Bible College of Tulsa, Okla., which is under the auspices of the Assemblies of God.

Rather than focusing on repentance and sin, or telling people how to live their lives, Mr. Westfield preaches that “God loves each person passionately.

“God’s not mad at you. He loves you because that is his nature. When we are struggling, God will always be there.”

Services

Crossroads Fellowship offers Sunday morning service at 10 and Tuesday evening prayer from 6 to 7. Tuesday evening Bible study begins at 7:15, and Mr. Westfield has been focusing lately on the Book of the Ephesians.

Sunday mornings begin with socializing from 9:30 until the start of the service, which opens with the singing of hymns. The congregation prays for those in need, and Mr. Westfield will preach.

But, he said, “we believe strongly in the Holy Spirit running the service.”

Sometimes, he said, he will have a sermon planned “but God will tell me to talk on something else.”

Church members also believe God will “show up” through someone, casting the service in a particular direction.

“If God shows up at church, miracles will happen,” Mr. Westfield said. “If he doesn’t show up, why should we?”

Crossroads Fellowship is independent of any established religious hierarchy.

“We are the first charismatic church in Wilton,” although there are many in Connecticut and elsewhere, said Mr. Westfield, who now lives in Norwalk with his wife, Lynn Carpenter Westfield. The timing was right to be here, he said.

“We’re in a spiritual season where God is turning up the heat,” he said.

“Where are the answers?” he asked. “In the Lord Jesus,” he answered.

Information: crossroadsfellowshipct.com.