Sunday morning, January 28, Sherry and I were privileged to join Pastor Matthew and Jennifer Stewart for worship at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. Sweetser is one of the churches participating in our Maximizing Impact initiative and it was encouraging to hear the progress reports as they’ve moved forward on their recommendations.
Following Pastor Stewart’s message on the Marks of a Christian (1 John 2), I met briefly with the LBA and then joined the congregation for a pitch-in dinner. After the dinner, Rev. Stewart invited me to share the “3×5” evangelism tool as the congregation steps up their outreach to the community. Congratulations also to Pastor Steward on recently completing course requirements for the Master of Divinity degree at Wesley Seminary!
Sunday evening, I had the joy of participating with Rev. Tony Bye, lead pastor at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church, and Rev. Michael Hewitt, church planter for Rising Hope Church in Muncie, in a conversation about evangelism in the local church. Brookhaven does a great job of their annual church membership reaffirmation process and part of that is a series of vision-casting and mission/values conversations. Pastor Bye shared that they’ve had 16 new members join since last year. They’re also in the middle of an exciting remodeling project to better serve children.
Speaking of remodeling projects, Frankfort First Wesleyan Church, another of our Maximizing Impact congregations, tackled their platform renovation this month. Here are the before and after pictures:
That’s a dramatic improvement! But, far more important are the stories of changed lives and new members that are becoming part of their fellowship. Congratulations to Pastor Alan Downing and the Frankfort First team.
Change is never easy, especially in ministries that we dearly value. Many of you will have received word of the transitional season for our Hephzibah Children’s Ministry. It was encouraging for me to hear from Dr. Dan Berry, Hephzibah’s Board chair, this week about the exciting possibilities as Hephzibah moves away from being a “state-controlled institution” to becoming more of a local church partnership for foster parenting and adoption initiatives.
While this is a marked shift away from a geographically-based ministry, this step has huge potential for impacting 10x more orphaned and vulnerable children across the nation, rather than being limited to the state of Georgia. Pray for our leaders in this challenging transition and believe with them for brighter days of greater impact ahead.
Last week was a change of pace as Sherry and I were in Buffalo, NY to partner with D.S. Dr. Joey and MaryBeth Jennings at the Western New York District Pastors & Spouses Retreat. Thank you to each one who made this event a matter of focused prayer. We felt that prayer support and are grateful for the way that God allowed us to serve.
We then flew from Buffalo to Orlando on Tuesday evening to participate in the GS-DS Institute (Wednesday-Friday). This annual event was held at the Caribe Royal Resort which will be the host site for the 2019 Gathering (January 9-11). It is always encouraging to connect with colleagues from across our denomination and to hear the many exciting ways in which God is at work. Disciples are making disciples and congregations are multiplying. Dr. Wayne Schmidt is bringing intentional, focused leadership to our team and challenging us to deeper levels of collaboration to unleash the apostolic multipliers in our movement.
Make plans now to bring your leadership team to ReEquip, April 21, 9 am to 3 pm, in Marion. This is a “make tracks, not excuses” event. The location is convenient, the price is right, and the value is high. Pastors, bring your lay leaders. Lay leaders, bring your team. Rev. Mark Wilson (author of “Purple Fish” and “Filled Up, Poured Out”) will be our keynote speaker. Next generation ministry leaders (children and youth workers) are looking forward to hearing from Matthew DePrez (author of “Join Generations: Becoming Unashamedly Intergenerational”). All the details for both tracks are conveniently located here: http://www.reequipconference.org/
I’m looking forward to a great week with multiple coaching conversations and a chance to drop in on the FUEL conference at HQ.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
The highlight of this past week was our District Prayer Gathering “Barriers and Breakthroughs” led by Dr. Jim Lo and his team at College Wesleyan Church on Friday afternoon. Hazardous driving conditions on the original date pushed us back one week but there was a wonderful sense of God’s presence as we gathered together for intercession.
Many of our pastors and churches had forwarded specific requests that received focused prayer. There was also a focused time of prayer around the altar as intercessors anointed pastors with oil. Several of our church planters were able to be with us and we gathered around them to pray for God’s blessing on these pioneering works.
Thank you to Dr. Lo, his prayer team, and to each one who took time to join us for this gathering. Let’s keep lifting one another up in prayer as we work together in the harvest field!
One of the things I’m enjoying about our newly-created district is the way that long-time leaders are reaching out to welcome and support our newest team members. One example of that was watching Pastor Chuck McCallum connect with Pastor Michael Hewitt. Pastor Chuck was excited to hear more about Rising Hope Church (our new church plant in Muncie) and Pastor Michael was excited to meet a new friend and add another prayer supporter!
Friday evening, Sherry and I welcomed the lead pastors and their spouses from the Fort Wayne Zone to Thornapple Lodge for a delightful time of fellowship, food, and prayer. Thank you to Rev. Rick Fletcher for his leadership to this zone. We’d also had a great time with this team a few weeks back for their Christmas fellowship. Even though we are all busy, it’s worth it to take time to encourage one another.
Last Monday evening, I met with Pastor Josh Keesling and the LBA at Greenfield Browns Chapel. We’re glad to have Pastor Josh and Alicia back serving in Indiana!
On Tuesday, I met with Pastor Zach Szmara (Logansport The Bridge), Pastor Marc Watkins (Kokomo Trinity Wesleyan), and Pastor Joe Park (Lafayette Evergreen) for our annual coaching conversations.
For Wednesday’s coaching conversations, I was in Hamilton to meet with Pastor Dave Leitzel, then on to South Bend to meet with Pastor Greg Holmes (Sonlight Fellowship), and finished up the day with Pastor Tom Beck (Larwill Wesleyan).
Thursday, I met with Pastor Tom Parson (Hartford City Wesleyan) and then Pastor Matthew Stewart (Sweetser Wesleyan) for our coaching conversations.
I value these conversations that provide greater insight into the opportunities and challenges of the unique contexts in which our pastors faithfully preach the Gospel and shepherd the flock. I am more convinced than ever that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and more grateful than ever for our pastors who lead diligently.
Last week also included a meeting on Thursday with our 2018 District Conference planning team. Ordination service, which is attended by all our ordained ministers, will be held again at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Friday evening, June 22. Please note that our ordained ministers will gather on Friday evening at 6:30 for our group photo with the ordination candidates.
The 2018 District Conference will be held in the same location on Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. With the many conversations taking place across our denomination about regions and district mergers, you won’t want to miss this meeting.
One more reminder to plan on bringing your team to ReEquip 2018! Registration is coming soon. Here’s the link with the latest information: http://www.reequipconference.org/
I would welcome your prayers this week for two important meetings. Sherry and I have been invited by Dr. Joseph Jennings, DS, to speak to the pastors and spouses of the Western New York District. We flew out to Buffalo on Saturday evening and the event runs from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday noon. Then, we fly to Orlando on Tuesday evening for the DS Institute led by our General Superintendent (Wednesday-Friday).
I always need and value your prayers but I am sensing an extra burden for these two important meetings. I am counting on your prayers and I’m grateful for our partnership.
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday, January 14, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Greg and Cheryl Holmes at Sonlight Fellowship Wesleyan Church in South Bend. After the service, I met with the board and then hosted the Holmes family (including five of their eight children) for fellowship over lunch.
It was encouraging to see the young families that are now part of the church but the congregation lost several dear members this past year. Pastor Greg is another of our bi-vocational pastors who serves faithfully in a ministry with big opportunities and limited resources. Churches like Sonlight are the reason our ReEquip Conference this year (April 21 in Marion) is specifically targeted to pastors and lay leaders in smaller churches.
On Sunday evening, I was at Anderson Central Wesleyan Church to meet with Pastor Jerry Alexander and the LAC as they considered a new project to better serve families in their community. Our Maximizing Impact team is looking forward to working with them on April 6-8.
The biggest disappointment of last week was the weather delay for our prayer gathering. Given the hazardous driving conditions, the team made a wise decision to reschedule the event to this Friday, January 19, same time (1-3 p.m.) and same location, College Wesleyan Church in Marion. We look forward to sharing with you in this concert of prayer led by Dr. Jim Lo and his team of intercessors.
Last Monday, Pastor Mike Colaw (Assistant DS for Region 2) and I were invited to participate in Elevate, a leadership development initiative hosted by the Greater Ohio District and Cypress Wesleyan Church.
Elevate consists of an all-day leadership/ministry seminar with keynote presentations from Pastor Ken Murphy and then breakout discussions in table groups. These same table groups then follow up with each other over the next 3 months until they come back to Cypress for the next Elevate session. Pastor Colaw has been coaching several pastors one-on-one so it was good for us to explore how this model could be adapted for our Crossroads team.
Tuesday morning, I was in Frankfort as Pastor Alan Downing hosted Rev. Dan Fisher and the Lafayette Zone for their first meeting of the new year. I’m grateful for the way our teams connect to encourage and support one another. Tuesday afternoon, I was in the office at Fishers for a Zoom conversation, and then I closed out the day with Rev. Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan. I first met with them and then with their LBA as part of the very positive extended call review.
Wednesday morning, I was at HQ in Fishers for a meeting of the General Board’s executive committee and then returned to Marion to sign property documents. The highlight of the day was connecting with Pastor Michael and Kim Hewitt at Rising Hope Church in Muncie. It was fun to see their team working together to transform the old Northview building as they prepare to launch this new ministry. Special thanks to Pastor Jeff Luedtke and the team from Fairmount Wesleyan Church who recently pitched in to help our newest church plant with this remodeling. We’re stronger together!
On Thursday, Dr. Rich Schenck and I attended a seminar hosted by the Center for Congregations at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis. This event featured Jim Tomberlin who presented on the multi-site movement’s progress from a space solution to a revitalization strategy. Pastor Rich has been leading Noblesville Lakeview in reaching out to Bethel and now merging with Beech Grove Wesleyan so this event was timely. You will find a host of resources available at their website including this blog post on multi-site ministry in smaller towns: http://multisitesolutions.com/small-town-jesus-multisiting-in-small-town-america/
My final meeting on Thursday was back at HQ to meet with Mrs. Elaine Johnson, the HR Director, looking at evaluation tools for ministry leaders.
On Friday morning, I was in Anderson to sign closing documents for the sale of our old Frankton property. Then on to Fishers for a meeting with Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Drury, Rev. Ron McClung and Mrs. Janelle Vernon to review the Discipline’s provision for some of the models being explored in the regional pilot projects. The DS Institute later this month in Orlando will have a fuller conversation about these pilot projects.
The weather had settled enough by Friday evening, that I was able to join Dr. David Wright and the team at Indiana Wesleyan University who hosted a special evening featuring the Five Blind Boys from Alabama. This gospel group started touring together in 1944 and still features two of the original members (yes, I’ll let you do the math).
They’ve received 5 Grammy Awards and are nominated again this year for their most recent album. The evening was a wonderful community event in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership in the struggle for equal rights and racial reconciliation. (Our office follows the HQ calendar and is closed on Monday in memory of Dr. King.)
I’m on the road for coaching conversations this week before Friday’s prayer gathering. Then, Sherry and I are looking forward to hosting senior pastors and their spouses from the Fort Wayne Zone for supper and fellowship on Friday night at Thornapple Lodge.
There’s still time to register your youth group for the Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter in Fort Wayne at Pathway Community Church on February 23-24. Here’s the link on Eventbrite: Crossroads Youth All-Nighter
Please mark your calendars for April 21 and bring your team to ReEquip, featuring Mark Wilson, Ron Wickard and Matthew Deprez! Here’s the link: ReEquip Conference
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity.
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Steve & Patsy Fletcher at Nelson Street Wesleyan Church in Marion. Pastor Steve has been leading the congregation in building bridges to the neighborhood through an addiction recovery group and their community gardens. After the service and a brief stand-up meeting with the LBA, Sherry and I hosted the Fletchers for lunch. Please remember Pastor Steve in your prayers as he continues to serve while working with significant health challenges.
On Sunday evening, Sherry and I joined with Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck to welcome Joshe Bose, National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh. Joshe is back in Indiana to complete the final intensive in his MDiv program at Wesley Seminary. Dr. Aron Willis, our retired District Superintendent, will be traveling to Bangladesh this spring with Dr. Dennis Jackson to ordain this gifted leader who is effectively serving this rapidly-multiplying national church. From orphanages to sports ministry outreach to planting 10 new churches next year, God is on the move in Bangladesh!
It was great to reconnect with our district staff on Tuesday for our weekly meeting and lunch after the extended Christmas break. I’m grateful for the ministry partnership we enjoy with Rev. Chris Williams, Roxene Lo and Seth Bye. And please know that we are grateful for your prayers as we seek to serve our growing network of congregations.
Tuesday and Wednesday included a number of email exchanges and phone conversations following up matters from the past several days. Then, on Wednesday, Jon Wiest and I met with another prospective church planter for lunch in Marion.
Thursday, I was in Indy for coaching conversations with Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck (Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan), and then with Rev. Dan Heylmann (Grant City Wesleyan). I dropped by HQ in Fishers and enjoyed connecting with Kevin Batman, General Treasurer, and Elaine Johnson, HR Director. Thursday evening, I met with one of our former ministers to answer questions about the credential reinstatement process.
Friday morning, I met with Daniel Seitz, Director of Life Center Counseling in Marion. We are looking at ways to partner to better serve our district pastors and congregations. Rev. Dan Walker and I met over lunch. Dan has extensive experience in multi-ethnic ministry and has relocated to Marion from Florida along with Dr. Joanne Solis-Walker, his wife (who is teaching at Wesley Seminary).
On Saturday morning, I enjoyed partnering with Pastor Ben Parker and speaking to the monthly Men’s Ministry breakfast at Back Creek Wesleyan Church near Fairmount. The food was good. The fellowship was even better. Praying as these guys lead in their families, their congregations, and their community.
Thank you to the many ministers of the Crossroads District who joined together to honor the memory and support the family of Rev. Dr. Wingrove Taylor, founding General Superintendent of the Caribbean General Conference. This historic home-going celebration was hosted by Pastor Mike Colaw and the team at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis where Dr. Taylor had worshiped in recent years. Dr. JoAnne Lyon officiated and brought the message from Psalm 1. One of the many highlights of the service was the extended Taylor family coming together as a choir to sing “Total Praise.”
This is the time of year when many of our local churches plan to welcome people into their annual membership covenant renewal. Rev. Kyle Horton and his team at Three Rivers Church in Fort Wayne do this on the first Sunday of the new year as Pastor Kyle casts vision and they share together in communion. Here’s the Facebook reminder they shared with their congregation:
Just a reminder that this annual membership affirmation needs to be completed by all Wesleyan churches before the end of the 2018 conference year, April 30. Only those individuals who have newly joined or reaffirmed their membership are to be listed for voting purposes and reported in your annual statistical report. The Wesleyan Church has provided a number of helpful resources for this process at the following website:
Join us this Friday, January 12, from 1 – 3 p.m., as Dr. Jim Lo and our Crossroads District intercession team welcome us to College Wesleyan Church for a Crossroads District prayer gathering called: Barriers and Breakthroughs.
We need fresh anointing for our ministries in 2018 as together we reach out to the 3 million religiously-unaffiliated people here in Indiana. May God empower us anew for effective disciple-making in this corner of God’s harvest field!
Your servant in Christ,
The verse for January 1, 2018 on Bible.com was “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:9)
That’s a great verse to begin this new year and it was the same verse that Pastor Ken Dykhoff shared with the congregation on Sunday morning at Jonesboro Main Street Wesleyan Church as they gathered for their final worship service before merging with Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church. A prolonged downturn in attendance and declining financial support at Main Street convinced the members to consider a new path forward.
The leaders at Main Street Wesleyan approached Pastor Mark Atkinson and the Eastview leadership team to explore possibilities. Eastview will welcome the members and Rev. Ken Dykhoff to become part of their ministry in Gas City with the intention to restart ministry in Jonesboro in the future. The final service was well-attended and the highlight of the day was celebrating 4 baptisms! I expressed appreciation from the district for the faithful pastors and lay leaders who served through the 95 years ministry at Main Street.
Baptisms were also the order of the day for at least two other Crossroads District churches on the last Sunday of 2017. Pastor Alan Downing reported that Frankfort First Wesleyan baptized one new believer and welcomed 2 new members. Pastor Steve Colter and the team at Marion Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church baptized 6 new believers and celebrated their partnership with Habitat for Missions that raised $10,000.
We received news last week of the passing of Rev. Dr. Wingrove Taylor, founding General Superintendent of the Caribbean General Conference and beloved holiness evangelist. The funeral service will be held at Trinity Wesleyan Church located at 9709 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis, on Saturday, January 6, at 2p.m. Viewing of the body will be on Friday, January 5, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. and on Saturday, January 6, from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., prior to the start of the service.
The ministers of The Wesleyan Church have been invited to serve as an honor guard lining the aisle at the close of the service as the body is moved from the church to the graveside service. All Crossroads District ministers who are able to participate are asked to meet me at the church by 1:30 for further directions.
You are invited to join us as we begin this new year with a Crossroads District prayer gathering led by Dr. Jim Lo at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Friday, January 12, from 1-3, as we seek God’s face and His favor together for our lives, our families, our churches and our mission field here in Indiana.
Thank you to those who have been praying for Pastor Brad LeRoy and Rev. Lloyd Moore. Pastor Brad was released from the hospital on Friday and Rev. Moore has been able to return to work after his successful transplant. Praise God for answered prayers!
There’s still time to register for the leadership seminar with Karl Vaters in Fort Wayne on January 24 (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) presented by the Center for Congregations: Small Congregations: Having a Healthy Mindset Karl Vaters is the author of the book The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors. (The cost of $30 per person includes the continental breakfast, lunch and a copy of the book Dirt Matters by Jim Powell.)
REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WORKSHOP.
Let’s make 2018 a year to remember as we pursue God’s heart and His calling here in our mission field. We have 3 million reasons. May God help us to never be content while there is even one more we can reach!
Your servant in Christ,