This is what love looks like.

Bishop L. Kirk and Pastor Karen Sykes are the dynamic duo behind CrossWord. They don’t just preach about loving the Lord; they live it. Their hearts are truly for the people; after all, we are “doing life together” as Bishop consistently reminds the congregation.

This duo operates seamlessly, both in the foreground and the background. True, they are partners in ministry but they are spouses first. The love these two hold for one another is admirable and truly something to admire.

The work these two do wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support team made up of staff, ministry leaders, deacons, and so many more.

CrossWord is immensely blessed to be led by such an anointed couple!


 Bishop L. Kirk Sykes 

Bishop L. Kirk Sykes is the founding Pastor of CrossWord Christian Church in Riverside, California. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he created the church motto “remember the Cross…focus on the Word”. To date, God has blessed Cross Word Church with a growing church membership of over 4,600 with over 40 active ministries.

Bishop L. Kirk is a very proactive pastor and strongly believes everything rises and falls on leadership. He continues to voice concerns about the plight of minorities in the Moreno Valley and Riverside communities – economically and academically. He is an advocate for education and encourages young and old to discover their purpose and pursue it with determination.

He was inspired to structure CrossWord Church to be a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational, multi-generational church connected through one culture: a Christian culture. He focuses on teaching God’s people how to live a godly life on this side of heaven. This is accomplished by giving practical examples and simple applications. This teaching includes instruction on how the Bible is relevant even in today’s society.

Bishop L. Kirk has been a guest speaker at numerous men’s conferences and events across the nation and locally, including Decently and In Order Ministries, and other venues throughout the United States, Sierra Leone and Ghana, West Africa. He is the recipient of numerous community awards, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Dr. Marvin L. Brown Christian Service Award, Riverside NAACP Religious Award, Special Congressional Recognition by Mary Bono Mack, Support Services to Path of Life Ministries, Chaplain for Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and Co-sponsor for UnityFest with Breakthrough Church, Pacesetters Award by the Riverside African American Historical Society, supporter and participant in the Inland Empire Million Father March on September 8, 2012 sponsored by Street Positive. His most recent award comes from the Richard T. Fields Bar Association for Community Service of the Year. Bishop Lacy is founder of Family and Community Empowerment (F.A.C.E.) Community Development Corporation, publisher of Valley Life Today Magazine. He was also a participant in the Proclamation of Dedication for the City of Riverside on May 10, 2003 and his signature is on the original document with several other Riverside pastors. Bishop Sykes has been a member of Vistage, an executive coaching and peer advisory organization, since 2007. He is passionate about serving God’s greatest creation.

In June 2000, he was ordained at Second Baptist Church in Maywood, Illinois, and prior to that obtained education for ministry at Bethany Baptist Bible College in Los Angeles and Golden Gate Theological Seminary in Brea.

He and his wife, Pastor Karen, have been married for over 25 years. They have five adult children and four grandchildren.

Pastor Karen Sykes

On May 4, 2003, Karen Jean Sykes publicly acknowledged her call to preach the Gospel. God anointed and appointed her to deliver her first public sermon at CrossWord Christian Church in Riverside, California on January 25, 2004. After giving evidence of the call of God to the Gospel Ministry, she received a Certificate of License.

She currently serves in the capacity of Associate Pastor of Administration. Although she administers the Word of God to the church body, she has a heart and calling for women and youth. Under the leadership of her husband, Bishop L. Kirk Sykes, Lead Pastor/Teacher of CrossWord Christian Church, she manages staff and the daily administrative responsibilities of the church office. She also leads the Women’s Ministry and other areas of ministry as assigned. In response to God’s gift, she has completed a certificate program of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She has also furthered her ministerial education by taking courses through Moody Bible Institute Online and, most recently, at California Baptist University in Riverside, California. Her goal is to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Studies by the end of 2014.

As a missionary, she has been blessed to co-lead an educational workshop for high school girls in Ghana, West Africa and teach elementary students at the El Shaddai Preparatory School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In addition, Pastor Karen Sykes has been a speaker at various women’s events throughout the Inland Empire, including Empower 2 Purpose (a ministry of Abundant Living Family Church-San Gabriel Valley), Temple Missionary Baptist Church, Allen Chapel AME Church, and Mountain View Community Church. She has received awards from the National Council of Negro Women’s Bethune Recognition Program, Purpose Center International Ministries as a Kingdom Woman of Excellence, and in 2012 was nominated alongside her husband as a recipient of the Unsung Heroes award by the Riverside African American Historical Society. She has received numerous certificates including one from the Healthy Heritage Foundation for Community Service, a Certificate of Recognition for “2012 Woman of the Year” from the County of Riverside Commission for Women Fifth Supervisorial District Nominee, and was recently featured in Riverside Magazine’s article “Forces For Good” (June/July 2013).