District Conference 2017 is in the books. Thank you to Dr. Steve DeNeff and the College Wesleyan team who graciously hosted our gathering again this year. We were challenged by the powerful messages of Pastor Alex Scilicia from Mexico City. We were inspired through anointed worship led by Elizabeth and Scott Rhyno. Dr. JoAnne Lyon led us in the ordination of seven new soldiers of the Cross.
We celebrated with churches who made significant progress this year and we heard the call to the task unfinished. We announced the new team members who will be leading church planting projects in Fort Wayne (Roy & Dylana Angulo Jimenez), Muncie (Mike & Kim Hewitt), and South Bend (Terry & Lennaire Vaughn).
We welcomed Pastor Benjamin and the choir from Shalom Christian Church in Indianapolis. This is our newest congregation comprised of refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma) who have been lovingly embraced by Pastor Rick Matthews and our Southview Wesleyan Church.
We remembered those who have gone on ahead of us to glory and we honored those retiring pastors who have so faithfully served for many years.
We elected DBA members to help lead us into the new year. We learned together and shared that fellowship that is unique to the family of God. We came away reminded that we are one team with one mission: make disciples who make disciples and multiply churches until every one of the 3 million in our region has the opportunity to experience the life-transforming grace of God. And, as Jesus reminded us in Luke 15:4, it begins with our willingness to pursue the one more.
Thank you to Rev. Chris Williams and Rev. Amanda Blair who led the conference team that made our time together meaningful and efficient. They would want me to point to the dozens of volunteers without whom this would not have been possible. Thank you each one who joined in to help and thanks be to God!
As I did at the conference, I want to again thank my amazing district office team: Chris Williams, (Assistant DS), Roxene Lo and Raleigh Pedro. They consistently go above and beyond to serve our team. I am blessed to partner with them in this ministry.
Yesterday morning, Sherry and I were at Muncie Northview for their closing service. As we shared at conference, the church voted to close and turn their facilities over for a new church planting project in Muncie. In the closing service, we honored Rev. Walter & Alice Wilson for their 22 years of service and introduced Rev. Mike and Kim Hewitt who will be coming later this summer to lay the groundwork for the new ministry.
We enjoyed hearing Kim and their children minister in music. If you have contacts in the Muncie community or students attending Ball State University who could be helpful to launching a new church, please pass along contact information to the district office.
Thank you to Pastor Andy Jellison, Jeff Brady, Michael Wood and their teams who led a powerful week of ministry for senior high students at Fairmount Camp. Evangelist Chris Wilson brought challenging messages and our students responded to God’s call.
Praise Report: Pastor Marc Watkins and the Kokomo Trinity team welcomed a children’s evangelist for their VBS this year. The closing rally on Sunday had 91 in attendance with three new families visiting for the first time. Best of all, 13 young people made commitments to Christ!
Prayer Request: Rev. Paul Kirk, our pastor at New Castle Memorial Wesleyan, called me last week with the heartbreaking news that Phebe’s daughter was in auto accident that resulted in the death of their grandchild. Their daughter suffered a broken back and will be months in recovery. Please remember this grieving family in your prayers.
Pastoral Transitions: Please pray for the pastoral search teams at Chesterfield Parkview, Fort Wayne Level 13, Columbia City New Hope, and Lapel Daybreak.
Your servant in Christ,
Quote from conference: “If we are to better the future, we must disturb the present.” -Catherine Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army
This weekend will mark the first anniversary of the Crossroads District as we gather in for our annual conference. Just 12 months ago we launched into this new journey as a stronger district focused on the 3 million unreached people in our state. Together, we will review progress, assess current challenges, and mark our course to increasing the effectiveness of our shared ministry. You won’t want to miss the messages from Alex Scicilia or the worship in song led by Elizabeth and Scott Rhyno. For complete information, visit our website: conference.crossroadsdistrict.org
All ministers and delegates are expected to be present for all sessions, but there will also be seating for guests both at the conference and at the ordination service on Friday, 6:30 p.m. Please make plans to join us and pray that God will powerfully meet with us in these sessions.
Sherry, Jordan and I worshiped with Pastor Matthew Trexler and the team at The River Church in Marion on Sunday morning. They have a tradition at The River of lighting a large portrait of Jesus each Sunday when they have a report of someone sharing their faith and leading a friend to Christ. That focus and passion is one of the reasons they led our district with 37 baptisms last year and 114 professions of faith in Christ.
Dr. John Bray, chaplain at IWU and a member of The River congregation, brought a challenging Father’s Day message using lessons from the golf course.
Last week I was back on the road for coaching conversations with Pastor Jim Weinmann (Evanston Avenue), Pastor Charles Moorer (Divine Direction), Pastor Ben Thomas (Nehemiah Church), Dr. Max Kingsolver (Michigantown New Hope), Pastor Steve Arnett (New Castle Mt. Zion), Pastor Barry Dixon (Calvary Family Church), Dr. Morris Jones (Lebanon), Pastor Zach Szmara (Logansport), and Pastor David Leitzel (Hamilton). We are blessed to have a faithful team of leaders serving in such diverse locations from farming villages to inner city ministry. Every church matters.
Last week also included drop in visits at two of the youth camps that were underway. I found these teens from Fountain City Wesleyan with Jacob Gibson, their youth pastor, enjoying NTS camp at Indiana Wesleyan University.
I also dropped in on the Junior High Camp led by Andy Jellison and his team at Fairmount Camp. The theme for the camps at Fairmount this summer is SENT and I was encouraged to hear that more than 40 of these teenagers responded to the challenge of being willing to answer God’s call to mission or pastoral ministry. The future is bright!
Special thanks to Andy Jellison, Lane Sander, Levi Lehman and the other staff members who volunteered their time last week to make a deep spiritual impact on our teenagers.
(I was unable to make it to Hanging Rock Camp but I heard positive reports from this adventure camp led by Jordan DeMerchant, Joe Deckard, and a great team.)
Last week also included a district “StratOp Review” led by Mark Meyer of the Unstuck Group, a board meeting at Anderson Central Wesleyan Church, a meeting with the Executive Board of the General Board of The Wesleyan Church, an LBA meeting at New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church, and a breakfast meeting with General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt at our office in Gas City (Cracker Barrel).
Saturday morning, Rev. Chris Williams and I represented the district in Fort Wayne at the funeral of Jeffrey Wood, the father of Michael Wood. Michael (also known as Woody) is a valued member of our district office staff providing incredible assistance with all things digital. His father died last week after extended health complications related to diabetes. Rev. Rick Fletcher (Jeff’s pastor at Lifeway) and Rev. Rob Tippey (Michael’s pastor at Level 13) led the remembrance service.
Saturday evening, Sherry and I welcomed Jeff and Arianna Eckart and their NTS staff for supper and games at our home. Jeff’s doing a terrific job leading Never the Same Camps and CYC (Claim Your Campus), a national prayer ministry, but we are most grateful for his investment in our three sons when he was their youth pastor at Kentwood Community Church.
Please keep our youth and their leaders in your prayers this week as Fairmount hosts the Senior High Camp and NTS begins a second week at IWU. Pray that God will anoint the speakers (Chris Wilson / Nicole Reyes) and that life-changing decisions will be made.
Your prayers will also be welcomed for Roxene Lo, Raleigh Pedro, and Chris Williams as our team focuses on conference prep this week. We can’t wait to see you on Friday!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Yesterday morning, I worshiped at Lapel Daybreak Church with Pastor Richard and Debbie Cole. Richard is completing his 19th year of ministry at Daybreak and I appreciate his heart for evangelism. Following the service, I met with Pastor Cole and the LBA for a planning session as they move toward their 20th anniversary in September.
I had another enjoyable week of connecting with our lead pastors in coaching conversations. Doug Sharrard (Lancaster), Jere Gowin (Kingsford Heights), Josh Keesling (Browns Chapel), Brad LeRoy (Harvest), Dan Heylmann (Grant City), Hal Rodgers (Knightstown), Carol Longnecker (Bakers Corner), Bill Thompson (Anderson Lone Oak), Ed Purciful (Anderson North), Kyle Horton (Three Rivers), Randy Yaryan (Winchester), Keith Jones (Crawfordsville), Joe Park (Lafayette Evergreen), and Rick Patterson (Colfax) all took time to sit down and bring me up to date on their ministry.
I am encouraged by how many of our pastors have at least one unchurched or nonbeliever with whom they’re building a relationship. I am surprised that not more of our pastors have an intentional process of discipling or developing leaders.
That’s one of the themes we’ll be spotlighting at this year’s district conference. Reaching 3 million won’t be accomplished by mass media or city-wide crusades. These large-scale approaches can be helpful (see Acts 2) but the normal pattern of the Kingdom advancing is by one heart at a time, one leader at a time, one zip code at a time. You’ll be encouraged at conference by the Kingdom story that Alex Sicilia and his team are living out in Mexico City.
Last Monday evening I was in Monon to meet with the LBA as they reviewed and unanimously extended their call to Pastor Steve Sparks.
Wednesday morning, I had the privilege of leading our denominational headquarters staff in worship at their monthly chapel service. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, was in town briefly between a busy travel season of district conferences. It is also good to hear his passion for the lost and the focused vision that he is bringing to The Wesleyan Church.
Thursday evening, I chaired a follow-up meeting of our nominating committee as we prepare for District Conference. I invite you to check out the information available at the district conference webpage: http://conference.crossroadsdistrict.org/
You’ll also find the conference agenda here: http://conference.crossroadsdistrict.org/schedule.html
On Friday, Rev. Chris Williams e-mailed the conference agenda, the conference action committee report and the nominating committee report to each pastor and they will be sharing that information with their respective delegates. If you’ve not received a copy, please contact our office.
Crossroads District, much like a larger church, has a variety of programming options. When it comes to teen camping, we have churches participating in Fairmount (iamfairmount.com), Frankfort (Frankfort Camp Schedule), Never the Same Camps (NTS Camps), and Camp United at Hanging Rock. None of these camps would hold all of our teams at once so these partnership are important to provide a range of price points, dates, and a variety of camping experiences, from high tech to rustic. Wherever our students gather this summer, let’s join in prayer that God will meet with them as He has done so faithfully through the years.
Prayer requests this week include:
Pastor Jere Gowin who was hospitalized and had surgery over the weekend. He anticipates being released home on Tuesday. Special thanks to Rev. Don Bayne (Jere’s zone leader) and Dr. Jim Lo (our district prayer champion) for their ministry to Jere and his family.
Pastor Lloyd Moore was taken to the hospital for a possible liver transplant last week but released after it was determined he was not a match. Lloyd and Rhonda deeply appreciate your prayers for this journey.
Rev. Steve Arnett’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia last week and the prognosis is not good. Please keep Steve and his mother in your prayers.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Thought for the week: “It is not how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.” Charles Spurgeon
Sherry and Jordan joined me yesterday as we worshiped at Jonesboro Main Street Wesleyan Church. Pastor Ken Dykhoff is completing his seventh year of service. Ken and I had the joy of working together previously in the West Michigan District so it has been good to reconnect. Some of you will know that Brenda, Ken’s wife, had a stroke and surgery back in 2012. They have always served together as partners in ministry so this has been a challenging season for both of them. After lunch with his family, Ken and I met back at the church for his annual coaching conversation. One highlight of our conversation was learning about the key role that Grandmother Soulz and her 12 children played in the history of the church.
Sherry and I were back at the new district office hub to apply a second coat of paint on Monday. It’s coming together and we’re aiming to have an open house on the Saturday afternoon after district conference concludes. Mrs. Roxene Lo will be located there while Mrs. Raleigh Pedro continues to serve out of our office space at the headquarters office in Fishers. While Pastor Chris and I spend most of our days (and some nights) ministering on the road, we both have home offices. Our new phone system will provide you with one number access even though most days find us serving in multiple locations.
Coaching conversations were the focus of the remainder of the week. On Tuesday, I met with Pastor Rick Matthews, Pastor Duane Summitt, and Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck. Rich and Carol had just returned from ministering with Joshe Bose in Bangladesh so the “jet lag” added some humor to our meeting. They were there as part of the 2017 Annual Conference and reported that many attending the meeting had just come to know Christ in the last two years. Do pray for Joshe and the young leaders of this mission field which is one of the two priority partnership projects for the Crossroads District.
On Wednesday morning, I was in Bryant for a coaching conversation with Pastor Paul Van Cise before he and Angelyn left to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They’re having an effective ministry in Bryant and we congratulate them on this marriage milestone!
Wednesday afternoon, Kory Christensen and I connected in New Haven at Impact Church for his coaching conversation. Pastor Rob Tippey and Level 13 modeled multiplication when they released Kory and his team to launch this new church in January 2013. Kory and Becky are deeply embedded in the community and living out their vision to creating a disciple-making movement. To plant 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years, means we need to raise up hundreds of disciple-making leaders like Kory and Becky who will step out in faith. The harvest is plentiful. The workers are few. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into His harvest field here in Indiana.
On Thursday, I met Pastor Joe Allen (Albion Wesleyan) for a coaching conversation. Both Joe and Rachel have had serious health concerns and would be grateful for your prayers as they continue to minister. Thursday afternoon, I met with Pastor Thomas Beck who pastors the Larwill Wesleyan Church. Thomas is one of our bi-vocational pastors who balances a family, a ministry and a career. He shared that his ministry at Larwill began with these words of advice from his DS Dr. Harold Bardsley: “Go preach and don’t get discouraged.” Tom and Julie have been serving there now for 17 years so that advice really worked.
Friday morning, I met with Pastor Logan Westrick in Tipton. Logan & Nancy are celebrating 57 years of marriage this month and have served together in ministry for 51 years. They have an abiding passion to see people come to know Christ and their children’s ministry is one of the strengths of Ash Street Wesleyan. Logan is a great example of what it looks like to serve well and finish strong.
Friday afternoon, I connected with Pastor Tom Parsons in Hartford City for our coaching conversation. Some of you will know that Tom had a military career before his conversion and call to preach. While he would have been a great officer, I’m glad he answered to a higher calling. Early in his ministry, he was given a gift by a member that was captioned: “Preach the truth – no matter what.” Tom’s commitment to preaching truth is one of the real strengths of the Hartford City Wesleyan Church today.
Don’t miss this year’s district conference, June 23-24, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion. All ministers are required to attend but everyone is welcome. I believe you’ll find the seminars informative, the worship inspirational, the fellowship enriching, and the presentations challenging. Here’s the link to share with your team: http://conference.crossroadsdistrict.org/
Do keep Pastor Lloyd Moore on your prayer list as he awaits a liver transplant. You can connect with Rhonda on Facebook to follow along with her updates. Also remember Pastor Rick and Tina Patterson (Colfax Wesleyan) as they recover from a serious car accident. They were able to return to ministry at the church yesterday and are grateful for your prayers.
Thank you for your service in the cause of Christ. What you are doing matters for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,