Cross Over Ministry

Cullen B. Rivers, M.D. and Reverend Judson “Buddy” Childress met together in 1982 to address their common interest in how to act as Good Samaritans by bringing their resources and skills together to help members of the Richmond community in need. At a meeting in the Third Presbyterian Church, the two men decided to establish the Cross Over Ministry. The following year the organization treated their first patients at the Word of Life Church.

Two years later, ” Street Center ” (now the Daily Planet) invited Cross Over Ministry to move into the third floor of their building in an effort to provide their clients with medical care. A local hospital helped finance the basic expenses required to run the operation. In 1986, a VCU nurse practitioner student, Jo Bowdler, finished her thesis on providing health care to the homeless and began to work for Cross Over as a first full time nurse practitioner, initiating the organization’s daily clinics. The following year onsite dental services were added to Cross Over Ministry as a result of the donation of two dental chairs and other dental equipment. Lastly, in 2004, Cross Over Ministry formed a partnership with local churches to administer the Nancy Gilliam Memorial Clinic located in the Broad Rock community.

As the community became aware of Cross Over and its mission to help the poor, donations from churches and from individuals began to grow. However, these donations were never sufficient to meet the growing demands for clothing, shelter, food, and medical services from populations in need. In 1991, Cross Over purchased its first building for a self-supporting clinic located on Cowardin Avenue . Dick Immel transformed what had been a construction company office into a clinic. Bank of Virginia donated paintings, desks, a sign, and maintenance workers. Edgar Fisher led the campaign to raise $200,000 for the construction of the building. By the end of the year, Cross Over Ministry celebrated its grand opening. Once the clinic opened, it received over 5,000 patient visits. During 1994, Lay Health Promoter Program began to train community volunteers to teach others about healthy living, disease prevention and community resources. An onsite eye care program began in 1996 as a result of equipment donations from Southern Optical.

Cross Over initially received free legal assistance, financial support for rent, heating bills, clothing, and medical care to give to needy individuals and families, primarily in the low income Church Hill neighborhood. The demand for assistance offered by the ministry quickly exceeded its financial capacity. Childress and Cullen were forced to close the ministry until new funding and other resources were received. They soon realized that health care was the first step in assessing other life needs, and Cross Over became strictly a medical ministry. A large number of volunteer nurses and doctors then joined the Cross Over team. In 2003, twenty years after that first clinic in a storefront church on Board Street, the Cross Over Ministry supplied over 17,000 patient visits to the medically uninsured population of the City of Richmond .

Cross Over Ministry describes its mission as follows: “To provide health care, promote wellness and connect the talents and resources of the community with those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.” The ultimate objective is to ensure that all Richmond citizens are given compassionate, quality health care. Cross Over Ministries currently has five programs and services that they provide to the community. The Cross Over Health Center , located in the Blackwell/Bainbridge neighborhood of South Richmond , is the main base for clinical care; it offers family medicine, dental care, eye care, podiatry, physical therapy, and HIV testing and treatment. The Medical Outreach Satellite Clinics, which have been operating since 1989, provide mini-medical satellite clinics at area locations to reach the homeless and others who do not have access to the traditional health care system. The Lay Health Promoter Program provides health education to community volunteers who serve as important links between their neighborhoods and the health care system. The Lay Health Promoter Program has graduated more than five hundred individuals. Cross Over supports a Community Health Referral Network that was established in 1998 in collaboration with the Richmond Academy of Medicine. This specialty care referral network for impoverished patients now includes 77 private physicians in 33 specialty areas and 23 sub-specialty areas. Cross Over Ministry also created Charity Inpatient Hospital Care in partnership with the major health systems in the Richmond area. Free hospital care is given to Cross Over patients as needed. Volunteers are important to the work of CrossOver, providing half of all the patient care. Each week volunteer physicians, dentists, hygienists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and counselors volunteer their time and energy. Volunteers provide administrative and clerical support to the staff members and patients as well.

Cross Over Ministry
108 Cowardin Avenue
Richmond , VA 23224


Cross Over Ministry staff
Cross Over Ministry website

Profile prepared by Shenika Smith
December, 2007