“To God be the Glory, Great things He has done!”
Evangelist Crusaders Church was founded on March 18th, 1966, in Hennepin County, MN, by the late, Rev. Walter A. Smith, his wife, the late, Dr. Hattie L. Smith, and the late, Evangelist Dorothy Thomas. These three along with Dr. Hattie Smith’s mother, Mother Luella McGee, and Prophet Don Hansen, served on its first Board of Trustees.
Rev. Smith had been an ordained minister and pastor in the Church of God in Christ before the Lord led him to begin his own ministry. He served as the senior pastor of Evangelist Crusaders until the Lord called him home on October 18, 2001. Dr. Hattie Smith, who was also an ordained minister, served on the Board of Trustees and in a variety of other capacities until her death on August 5, 2005.
Joined and assisted by other powerful leaders such as Bishop Dorothy Hill, Dr. Norris Rose and Dr. Nathanael J. Mullen, Jr., (just to name a few); Pastor Smith built a ministry whose influence has touched many lives near and far and has helped to give rise to many churches and parachurch ministries.
Evangelist Crusaders believes that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is still a part of God’s plan for the Christian church. We believe that signs and wonders should (and will) accompany the preaching of God’s word, just as they did when the New Testament was written.
Evangelist Crusaders has been graced to witness and be a part of many miracles throughout its history: healings, deliverances, the changing of the weather, bringing the dead back to life, miracles of provision - both financial and physical (like, the multiplying of food) plus many, many more.
Evangelist Crusaders’ rich history is rooted in the three core elements of its mission. We focus on: 1) evangelizing the lost; 2) discipling the believers; 3) and training individuals for ministry. All of this is done through, with and in the power of the Holy Ghost. Our mission statement is, “To advance the Kingdom of God by providing a worship environment in which God’s people can be discipled in His Word to serve others and to evangelize the World.”
Pastor Smith felt it was of necessity to get the Gospel outside of the four walls of the church to reach as many of the lost as possible; therefore, the church has sought to save the lost by encouraging personal evangelism and organizing corporate efforts. Bishop Hill, Dr. Rose and others also contributed greatly in recommending and organizing those corporate efforts. These efforts included such things as door-to-door canvassing, interactive street ministry, preaching on buses and on street corners. We have held tent revivals and other types of outdoor meetings - in and out of the state.
We have and do minister in nursing homes and prisons. We have preached over the radio and appeared on television programs. We have done revival work in other countries. We have also distributed practical goods as a means to evangelize through community outreach.
Regarding discipleship, in simple terms our philosophy has always been one of teaching by “precept and example,” a phrase Pastor Smith would often use. Thus, our leadership roles have demanded a high standard and our programing has sought to lay and encourage the foundation of personal devotion, holiness and surrender to the will of God. We are not just to “do” Christian, but first and foremost, to “be” Christian.
The last of these three core elements is training believers for ministry. Within this effort, Pastor Smith felt a special call from the Lord to develop and ordain women to formal Gospel ministry (something that was quite contrary to the sentiments of many of his peers). Over the years, many leaders, male or female, young or old have been groomed, licensed and ordained. Many of these have gone on to lead their own churches or ministries, locally and nationally.
Those in the church not called of God for ordination to the preaching ministry do have the opportunity to grow, mature and contribute to the work of the Lord in other vital areas of ministry. These include such things as the ministries of helps, artistic expression, administration, giving, governance, or the compassionate care of those in need.
The physical location of the ministry has changed over the years.
Our first location was in a mission on Plymouth Avenue, in north Minneapolis. From there the church rented a house from the city on the north side of Minneapolis at 1701 Thomas Place. This became the most notable of our previous locations. 1701, as it is affectionately called, had previously been a house of ill-repute. I remember Bishop Hill once remarking about the clean-up effort. Not only did they find the ill-repute related paraphernalia but also they had no running water to start the clean up so they melted snow; talk about dedication and determination.
The Lord knew we had been “circling this mountain long enough”; and, as the Deuteronomy account cites it, it was time for us to move, “Northward!” But of course, in our case, it was actually, “Southward.” The property owners of 9 West 14th Street decided to use the property for other purposes. Not wanting to have yet another temporary location, we sought to raise 30,000 dollars within three months in order to complete enough of the new building for us to move in. With the help of the Lord and under the fearless fundraising leadership of Bishop Hill (we knew her then as Sister Blaylark), we exceeded our goal and so, after years of perseverance and with just the bare minimums, we moved into our current location in June of 1983. Praise the Lord! It was always Pastor Smith’s philosophy that we should “pay as we go.” There is still more work yet to do on the building, but thank God, we are debt free!
In summary let me say, that over these 50 years, Evangelist Crusaders Church has been blessed. We have experienced good times and bad, glorious moments and moments that were not so picturesque, but through it all God has been with us and we are still here. Though we cherish our past, are grateful for it and are blessed to share its memory, we do not remain there. The leadership baton has been passed and since the homegoing of our founders, wonderful things continue to happen in the ministry as we carry on the work. The song says, “They said I wouldn’t make it.” Some said, we wouldn’t make it. They said this when Pastor Smith was at the helm and otherwise, however, the proof is in the pudding.
Pastor Smith use to say that the church is an organism, not an organization and that anything dead ought to be buried. We are neither buried - nor dead. The door is still open and life-giving ministry still flows. After 50 years we are, “Running with the vison….still!
Currently our ministerial leadership consists of Rev. David L. Fronsoe as the senior pastor, Rev. Larry Trawick, our assistant pastor, Rev. Maria Mitchell, Rev. Yvonne Trawick and Rev. Gwendolyn Wright. Our licensed ministers are: Ministers: Shirley Wright, Greg Anderson, Michelle Simmons, Alberta Knight and Tressie Jones. Also of note in our upper leadership team is Sister Mary Ann Russell who, along with some of the others already mentioned, serves on the Board of Trustees.
Our leadership team is seeking God for the continual infusion of life-giving power to help us to carry out our mission. With God’s leading and help, we will fulfill the mission of the Lord.
Using some of Jesus’ own words, Pastor Smith often exhorted us to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” and that - with signs following. He also noted at times that, “the world begins next door.”
Pray with us that Evangelist Crusaders Church will grow and continue to faithfully discharge its purpose to the generations of today and beyond, in this city and the entire world.
Again, “To God be the glory; great things he has done.”
Let everyone say, “Amen!”
Pastor Walter A. Smith
Monday, October 18, 2021, Evangelist Crusaders Church marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of our founding pastor, the late, Rev. Walter A. Smith. Wonderfully saved, delivered, and filled with the Holy Ghost, Pastor Smith was a man after God’s own heart. It is often said of him that he was a man ahead of his time. He believed that the Bible shows that the Gospel message should be accompanied with signs following. He also believed this message was for everyone and that everyone should carry it forth. He knew that whether you were male or female, in your youth, adulthood or old age, your witness was important. For this reason, Pastor Smith not only ordained many men into ministry, but the Lord had given him a special mission to “raise up a battery of women.” This he endeavored to do until his passing. We are so grateful to have had a founder and under-shepherd of such great caliber.
We continue with the vision Pastor Smith has set forth and feel it an honor to carry on this uncompromised Gospel legacy. Please pray for us (and even join us in this mission) as we seek to reach the lost and to see the miraculous manifested to benefit everyone, everywhere, in every generation.