Cross Tracks Church welcomes new pastor
By ANTHONY FLORES
Cross Tracks Church, a staple of Liberty Hill for over 150 years, is under the new leadership of Pastor Michele Lott.
Originally from Norman, Oklahoma, Lott arrived in Liberty Hill at the beginning of July. A Texan since moving to the Austin area in 1998, the new pastor has known since she was in her teens this was the path she was to travel.
“I said yes to be a pastor when I was in high school right before I went to college,” she said. “The first time I went to college, I went as a religion major and then dropped out and took a break. Then I decided I wanted to be a teacher, but I realized I was called to ministry. That’s when I got into youth ministry full time.”
Early on, Lott wasn’t sure about moving up into the position of senior pastor. After a few years, she decided to accept the advancement.
“When I moved to Texas, I was still in youth ministry, and I did that for 25 years,” she said. “Then I ended up moving to La Grange to get a job as director of youth ministries. It was there that the senior pastor said ‘you know you’re supposed to be an elder in the church’. I said that I couldn’t because I’m old and I have four kids. I had all these great excuses.”
When Lott knew it was time to become a pastor, she felt she needed to get more schooling. She decided to earn her bachelor’s degree in human resources from the University of the Incarnate Word. The Cross Tracks pastor had confidence in her lifelong faith studies. She felt being more equipped to work with people would be better suited for her position.
“I decided to get a bachelor’s degree in human resources because I realized many pastors don’t know how to hire and train, I’ve just seen so many bad staffing decisions,” she said. “My focus on human resources was leadership development. I figured that would help prepare me for creating a structure for how the church gets things done.”
Lott received her Master’s of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary to continue to work within a local church while attending seminary.
In her long calling with the Methodist Church, Lott served several churches in cities all around Texas.
“I served for one year in La Grange, then I went to Corpus for four years and served in a fairly large church. I was an associate pastor there,” she said. “Then I went to Driftwood on the opposite side of Austin for a couple of years, then it was off to San Antonio for two years, and that’s where I just came from.”
When the decision to move Lott to Liberty Hill came, the Bishop felt that the goals of Cross Tracks lined up with Lott’s strengths.
“Because Liberty Hill needed a new pastor, the Bishop looked at what the church needs and which pastor would fit best, so they decided that I should move here,” said Lott. “The cabinet explained why they wanted me to come here. It was because we were looking to move in a new direction, and that’s one of the things I like to do, figure out where we need to go and set the right tools in place, so we’re prepared.”
Becoming a more active entity in the community is the direction that the historical church hopes to go in.
“Cross Tracks has identified that they want to become more active in the community, both in trying to fill needs in the community, connecting with things already in place and do what we can to help make an impact on the community in Liberty Hill,” said Lott
The plans moving forward for Lott and her new congregation focus on the growth Liberty Hill is seeing as families continue to flock to the area.
“A lot of those things have to do with the incredible growth that Liberty Hill is experiencing,” she said. “Especially with young families, people with kids in school. Having that history in children and youth ministry and a passion for young families and connecting with the kids and the parents is a good fit for me.”
The growth and refinement of education is a significant goal for Lott moving forward. As with all things during the pandemic, a large part has to do with adjusting to COVID-19.
“So, we’re looking at ways we can do more with our preschool and bridge some of the gaps between the preschool and the public school. Especially looking at where we are now and adapting to COVID-19,” said Lott. “When the school year starts, there’s going to be so many things that we can’t foresee. Families are going to need support, and we don’t know what it is yet.”
Lott feels she is ready to be in her role even while under pressure to be nimble and employ new methods because of the pandemic. Lott’s first service for Cross Tracks was virtual, a necessary adjustment for safety.
“We have to look in new ways. This is forcing us to think outside of the box,” she said. “I love thinking outside the box. There’s always good. We can always find good. Because it’s forcing us to think differently, we can do more. We can do it better or differently. It’s easy to go along in the way you’ve always done it until something pushes us to do differently.”
Despite the current state of the world, Lott is finding her silver lining. The lifelong Christian embraces new ways of doing things instead of allowing them to break her down. Even in the face of uncertainty, Lott is prepared and also excited to face what comes next.
“It could be easy to be broken down at this point after five months,” she said. “But that’s not the case. We’re finding this season of hope and willingness to step in. I’m excited even though it’s a tough time.”