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Crossroads senior pastor retires after 33 years at pulpit
pastor pic
Senior Pastor John Stensether was instrumental in the creation of Crossroads church, and will give his last sermon on May 26. - photo by Photo Contributed

The members of Crossroads church are praying for a new pastor, someone who can fill the shoes of the man who has guided their congregation for 33 years.

Senior Pastor John Stensether was instrumental in the creation of Crossroads when he began his career. After 33 years, during which time he oversaw the beginnings of the church from the ground up, married generations of families and became an integral part of the community,  Stenesther will be giving his last sermons at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on May 26.

 “I received a scholarship to go to school for medicine and had hopes of becoming a doctor one day,” said Stenesther.  “God had a different plan for me though. At the age of 20 I decided to dedicate my life to Him and become a pastor. As a result of my actions, I lost my scholarship and had to work my way to school.  I’ve spent half a century of my life working for the Lord, and 33 of those years I’ve devoted my service at Crossroads.”

Stenesther, who has three older sisters, said that while he was growing up, his parents had him and his siblings involved in their church at all times. He began his relationship with God at a young age and preached to his sisters.

“I would line them up and sit them down on the sofa and I would preach to them little sermons,” said Stenesther. “I was six years old and even though I was laughed at by my sisters, I felt that it marked the beginning of my journey with God.”

Stenesther graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in speech and later went on to receive a doctorate in practical theology at the California Graduate School of Theology. He preached in Indiana and New Jersey before he found a permanent home at Crossroads.

“I wanted to be part of the beginning of a church, planning of a church, and spread the word of God to the community,” said Stenesther.

Since Stenesther first came to Turlock, he said the church and the area have undergone significant changes. Stenesther said the biggest changes over the past 33 years occurred within the community.

“I had an inner desire that was building within me and God’s always talked to me to remain in this location,” said Stenesther. “I’ve had many opportunities to teach theology at the University of Chicago and lead other churches, but my heart and love has always belonged to this community.”

Although he is retiring, Stenesther has no plans to leave the area. Stenesther’s wife, Barbara, has been right beside him from the start and continues to be the anchor that holds him down. Stenesther has no intention of slowing down and plans on remaining active in the church and local community.

“We have a love for the area; we love the people and this is an awesome place to live,” said Stenesther. “It’s been a wonderful journey and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me."