October has become the month for Pastor Appreciation here in Indiana. Thank you to the lay leaders in each church who took the initiative to coordinate the many thoughtful expressions of appreciation. Sunday morning, Sherry and I worshiped with Pastor Dan & Laurie Eckart and the team at Warren Park Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis. Dan & Laurie were honored at a breakfast before the service. They were also celebrating the birth of their newest grandchild: Hudson Taylor.
This service was a wonderful celebration of diversity as the Hispanic congregation led by Rev. Guiterrez joined in worship with St. Stephen’s Christian Church led by Rev. Ervin Webster and Warren Park Wesleyan. The service included prayers and music from each congregation. Following the service, I met with the LBA before hosting Rev. & Mrs. Guiterrez (and their son Stephen) for lunch. Having three congregations with three different cultures worship together was a delightful foretaste of heaven!
Pastor Chris Williams (our Assistant DS) was with Pastor Kory Christensen on Sunday morning at New Haven Impact Church. Chris was in Atlanta this past week with Pastor Jason Tash learning the StratOp process used by the Unstuck Group and others to assist churches with breakthrough planning.
I was in Marion on Monday for staff meeting with Mrs. Roxene Lo and Mrs. Raleigh Pedro. I enjoyed connecting with Pastor Tim Witte at Countryside Wesleyan over lunch and then touring their facility. Tim’s doing a wonderful job of loving and leading in this rural community. My last appointment of the day was with Pastor Gary Bingham at Hillside Wesleyan. It was encouraging to hear how God is continuing to bless after 25 years of ministry with three baptisms and 7 people coming to Christ in recent weeks. Praise the Lord!
Tuesday morning, I was in Kokomo for my annual coaching conversation with Dr. Mark Rennaker, pastor at Southdowns Wesleyan Church. Dr. Rennaker may be the busiest man I know between pastoring a church, coaching football, writing a book, teaching online, and directing the THRIVE initiative for The Wesleyan Church. I’m grateful that he also makes time to serve with our Crossroads District Board of Administration. My next coaching meeting was with Pastor Marvin Lamb at Miami Wesleyan. This was our first time together and I was encouraged by his sacrificial service to our country (1957-1960 in the US Navy) and as a bi-vocational pastor. He and Mary have been married for 53 years and are blessed with 3 children, including the Rev. Dr. Marcel Lamb, who all love and serve God.
My last appointment on Tuesday was with Pastor Johnnie Blair at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan. Trinity was one of the churches that took advantage of the Maximizing Impact ministry that we began offering last year. Rev. Paul James and a consultation team joined the Trinity leaders for a weekend of learning and planning.
It is exciting to see the changes that have taken place in the last 12 months. They’ve updated the signage and interior, added a second worship service, and made significant improvements to their connection (assimilation) ministry. They’ve recently celebrated 9 new commitments to Christ, dedicated 5 babies and welcomed 13 new members. God is on the move in Tipton!
Wednesday over Friday, I was in Sandusky with DS Les Crossfield and the Greater Ohio District team for their ministerial retreat. It was fun to share some of the insights from “Lead Like Wesley” and to hear the reports of their ministry. Pastor Les is a very good golfer (ask about his national championship) and an even better district superintendent.
I’m taking a few personal days this week to help my father and mother move from Brooksville, FL to Burnips, MI. I will have my phone so don’t hesitate to call with updates or questions. Assistant DS Chris Williams is in Marion this week and available for your call!
Please do continue to pray for Pastor Paul Trent, Pastor Bill Thompson, and Carson Ulrich (son of Pastor Marc & Heather Ulrich). We believe that God is still our Great Physicians and is able to bring these brothers to a full and speedy recovery!
Your servant in Christ,
Yesterday morning, I was with Pastor Randy and Carol Yaryan for the 75th Anniversary at Union Street Wesleyan Church in Winchester. They and their team did a great job of hosting this event. The mayor brought greetings from the town. The children’s choir and the high school chorale provided special music. Mrs. Barbara Crist was honored for her 75 years attending the church. It was great to see the church packed with 121 present. Many stayed for the fellowship luncheon. It was encouraging to see the impact of this congregation over the past 75 years and to dream with them about their potential to make a difference in the years to come.
Sunday afternoon, I met with 5 people at Knightstown Wesleyan Church. Pastor Gayle and David Whitmire completed their service to the church at the end of September. The folks remaining have been meeting and praying about next steps. They have decided to press on through this year as a developing church. Mr. Harold Rodgers has agreed to serve as a lay supply pastor. Mr. Rodgers is an IWU grad (studied theology under Dr. Jim Dunn) who is the chief of police in McCordsville. Knightstown is the home church for Jennifer Rodgers, his wife. They both sensed a calling to step in and help this year.
Our district staff met in Marion on Monday morning before I had lunch with Rev. Stephen Nelson at IWU. He shared an exciting new scholarship opportunity for first generation Americans. After lunch, Chris Williams and I met with Rev. David Dignal to debrief the ReEquip conference. This has been an effective training seminar with some top notch speakers. Looking ahead to next fall, the focus will be on equipping leaders in smaller churches and the event will be relocated to Marion.
Monday evening, I sat in on the Fairmount Family Camp team meeting. Dr. Robert Vardaman does a great job coordinating this team of leaders. I excused myself part way through the meeting to join our Hispanic pastors zone meeting in Anderson. Special thanks for Dr. Norman Wilson for his investment in these leaders and to Pastor Julio Rodriguez who chairs this zone. We shared a meal and an encouraging time of fellowship.
I worked out of our Fishers office on Tuesday. Chris Williams and I met in the morning on DBA agenda items for next month’s meeting. Then I met with Rev. Wayne Richards for lunch. Wayne is in job search mode after the downsizing at Wesleyan Publishing House. He is beloved across our district and the broader church for his investment in ministerial students through FLAME. In the afternoon, I stopped by Noblesville Riverview Hospital to check in on Rev. William Breidenbaugh. He is recovering from hip surgery and was grateful for the prayers of our district team. The plan is for him to be released by October 26. Your continued prayers for healing are appreciated for Rev. Breidenbaugh, Rev. George Martin and Rev. Paul Trent.
Wednesday, I was on the road for coaching conversations. I first met with Rev. Dan Fisher at our Wesleyan Church in Dephi. Dan chairs our Lafayette Zone and has a deepening passion for prayer that is contagious. From Delphi, I drove on to Plymouth for lunch with Rev. Rich Van Vuren and then toured Shiloh Wesleyan Church. It was encouraging to hear how God is moving in both of these congregations. I finished the day meeting with Chris Williams in Fort Wayne to sign closing documents as Pastor Kyle Horton and the team at Three Rivers Wesleyan Church completed the purchase of adjoining property to provide additional access and room for expansion.
Thursday was a travel day as I drove to Southern Wesleyan University. On Friday, I was able to connect with ministerial students in two different classes and over lunch. Thanks to Professor Brad Phipps and Professor Dave Tolan for allowing me to sit in on their lectures. Some of the students I spoke with are considering graduate studies at Wesley Seminary and would be prospects for our residency programs. Friday evening, Sherry and I attended the alumni banquet and the homecoming concert featuring “Committed.” It was good to connect with Dr. Todd Voss and to see the progress on the campus under his effective leadership. Pictured here is the newly remodeled Nicholson-Mitchell Christian Ministries building, named in honor of beloved General Superintendents Dr. Roy S. Nicholson and Dr. Virgil Mitchell.
Looking at the week ahead, I’ll be in coaching conversations today and tomorrow before heading east to speak at the Greater Ohio District Ministerial on Wednesday through Friday. I will be checking email and voicemail if you need me. Rev. Chris Williams and Rev. Jason Tash are together in Atlanta for StratOps training with Mark Meyer and the Unstuck Group. Mrs. Roxene Lo will be in the Marion office and Raleigh Pedro will be working in our Fishers office if they can be of assistance to you. This coming Sunday, I’ll be preaching at Warren Park Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis.
Just a reminder to mark your calendars for January 13 and 14 when we’ll join Wesley Seminary in co-hosting a leaders seminar on church multiplication featuring Rev. Mike Hilson of the New Life Network in La Plata, Maryland. It’s an amazing story of what can happen when a church commits itself to exponential ministry. We dream of a day in the Crossroads District when every church is healthy enough to plant at least one daughter church. This conference will help us as we work toward that vision.
Don’t forget that Dr. Jim Lo is heading up our district prayer initiative. You may forward your prayer concerns directly to him at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for all you are doing in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
On Sunday morning, I joined Pastor Steve Colter and the team at Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church as they celebrated their 100th anniversary of ministry! The church was launched by three ladies: Aunt Molly McGuire, Mrs. Lydia Cleveland and Mrs. Elnora George in response to the spiritual needs they saw in their community. Rev. John Tompkins was the initial pastor in 1916 when the church began meeting on 10th Street as Tabernacle Gospel Mission.
Among the special guests today was Rev. William Babb who is the second longest serving pastor after Rev. Colter. The church has planted two churches and literally ministered around the globe by sending out at least 22 missionaries. Rev. Josh Bowlin, former missionary to the South Pacific region, was the keynote speaker and shared the impact of this church on his life as a teenager. Congratulations to Pastor Steve, Cheri and the Chapel Pike team for a wonderful celebration and a bright future!
Sunday afternoon, I worshiped with Pastor Barry and Joyce Dixon as Calvary Family Church recognized their seventh anniversary of ministry at the church. Rev. Chuck Moorer, pastor at Divine Direction Church, preached on the challenge of “Holding On and Standing Strong.” This service closed out a wonderful weekend of celebration as the congregation honored their pastoral couple.
Sunday evening, I enjoyed the inspiring music of the Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale under the direction of Dr. Todd Guy in concert at Hazel Dell Christian Church in Carmel. Dr. Guy does an incredible job with these students and you’ll want to hear the IWU Chorale and Master’s Praise when they’re in your area.
Last week began with the ReEquip Conference on Monday and Tuesday in Fort Wayne. Dr. David Dignal and his team put on a first-class event with outstanding speakers in Tom Mercer (author of “8 to 15”) and Hugh Halter (author of “Flesh” and “BiVo”). Both men focused on the essential ministry of disciple-making. I have several pages of notes from their sessions but perhaps the best takeaway for me was Hugh Halter’s challenge to “give your best time to lost people and leaders.” In addition to exceptional learning opportunities, we also had a great time of fellowship with pastors and staff members from across our Crossroads District. Our next district leadership event will be co-hosted with Wesley Seminary on January 13-14 in Marion when we welcome Pastor Mike Hilson (New Life Network) on the topic of “Leading a Multiplication Movement.”
I was back in Marion on Wednesday for a staff meeting and then for one last coffee with Dr. Willis before he headed off for North Carolina.
On Wednesday evening, I met with the congregation of Sunshine Gardens Wesleyan Church on the southwest side of Indianapolis. Rev. Darrell Dennis had pastored the church up until his illness. After his death last month, the church began to pray for a leader to pick up his mantle for this ministry. I’m please to report that Rev. Garnald Dennis, an ordained Nazarene pastor and brother to Darrell, has accepted the request of the church to be appointed as their supply pastor. We had a precious time of prayer for God’s blessing on their ministry.
Thursday, I worked at home and took advantage of the free online sessions streaming from the Leadership Pipeline Conference. Eric Gieger, Thom Ranier, Paul Tripp, and Will Mancini were some of the keynote speakers. Even though the theme was building a leadership development process, the essence was the same as our ReEquip conference, disciples must make disciples and leaders must make leaders. One of the takeaways from this conference was the maxim that: “what is celebrated gets cultivated.” That’s another way to say, what gets rewarded gets repeated. If you’re going to have more leaders, you must create a culture that celebrates leaders making time to develop other leaders.
Friday, I brought a devotional and then sat in with the Fairmount Camp Board under the leadership of David Tippey, board chair, as they reviewed last year’s camping season and made plans for next year. There is a strong team of leaders around the table and they’re working hard to ensure the camp’s future is as healthy as its past.
I left the meeting a bit early to make it to Fishers to sign documents to close the property sale for the old ICD buildings in Frankfort. It was good to connect with Phil and Rhonda Foley and to affirm the good work they’re doing with the Frankfort Camp Ministries. They also continue to have an active ministry sharing their musical ministry in area churches.
Friday evening, I joined the Cavalry Family Church and area pastors who came together for a banquet and celebration for the 7th year of Pastor Barry Dixon’s ministry. It was a joy to meet some new Indianapolis ministry friends including Bishop Larry Grinstead and Pastor Darrell Davis, Jr. These men are part of a pastors’ group called “Sharpening Swords Fellowship” along with Pastor George Martin. Pastor Martin was unable to attend due to his hospitalization but his 82-year-old mother brought special music at the banquet and Rev. Dixon’s brother-in-law brought the sermon. The banquet turned into a powerful church service!
On Saturday, I stopped by Community Hospital North to check on Rev. George Martin. Sister Toyin was there when I stopped in for prayer. They were still waiting on test results when I left. The good news is that they did release Pastor Martin to return home on Sunday afternoon. Dr. Joe Sawyer stepped in to preach at Sanctuary Church on Sunday morning.
Saturday evening, I joined Roger Gross and the Crossroads District Wesleyan Men for a banquet at Cicero United Family Wesleyan. Coach Tonagel from the national champion IWU Wildcats basketball team brought the message to an attentive group of men. He reminded us that every man needs a team and to “be 3rd” in life.
Prayer is requested for revival services this week at Colfax Wesleyan Church. Rev. Rick Patterson is pastor and Rev. Al Soultz is the evangelist. Prayer is also requested for Rev. William Breidenbaugh, one of our retired pastors, who is recuperating from hip surgery at Noblesville Riverview Hospital, and for Pastor Paul Trent (Chesterfield Parkview) as he continues cancer treatments.
We’re praising God that Rev. George Martin has been released from the hospital but he would be grateful for your prayers as he trusts God for a full recovery.
Next Sunday, October 23, I’ll be with Pastor Randy Yaryan at Winchester Wesleyan Church as they celebrate their 75th anniversary on ministry in that location. Then, I’ll be facilitating a congregational meeting at Knightstown Wesleyan on Sunday afternoon. I’m both aware and grateful for your prayers as we labor together in His harvest field.
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Jeff Luedtke and the team at Fairmount Wesleyan Church. These are good days at FWC as they reach out in new ways. In fact, one lady who has attended for at least 40 years said she’s never been more excited. The church is multi-generational with blended worship. Pastor Jeff and Dr. Amy are blessed with two wonderful children, Bryce (10th grade) and Jordan (8th grade). The church is taking a big step of faith in launching “The Branch,” a downtown coffee shop and community gathering place. It was good to be there as part of their Missions Month and to hear the stories of life transformation as God continues to bless this 150+ year-old-church. New attenders and new believers are the best evidence of what God is doing at Fairmount Wesleyan Church.
Sunday evening, I facilitated a town hall meeting with Pastor Clifton Ashlock at Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church. MCWC hosted a Maximizing Impact consultation team last month and this was the follow-up opportunity for the congregation to dialogue about the team’s recommendations. This church is a wonderful community of faith with a positive blending of Hispanic and Anglo families. In the next two weeks, they’ll vote on whether or not to move forward on the consulting team’s prescription. It was encouraging to hear of new guests and decisions for Christ in the past 2 weeks.
I was on the IWU campus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week for the Board of Trustees meeting. God is on the move in exciting ways. One evidence of that is the more than 200,000 hours of volunteer service that students and staff invest in the community each year. Enrollment is just about level with last year but things are solid financially. New programs, including a songwriting major, are rolling out and creating positive buzz along with the football program. Dr. David Wright is doing an incredible job leading Indiana Wesleyan University into a bright future! Homecoming at IWU concluded with a concert by the Gaither Vocal Band and friends. Bill and Gloria Gaither are generously funding the new song-writing major at IWU.
Last week began with staff meetings in Marion on Monday and lunch with a church-planting prospect. Tuesday, I was back in Fishers for a meeting before heading to Lebanon to sign closing docs on a property sale. I joined Pastor Ben Capshaw and Rev. Carol Schenck in Elwood to sign loans docs for the sanctuary roof repairs. Tuesday’s last meeting was with Pastors Victor and Claudia Silva and their LBA in Richmond. It’s encouraging to see the many ways that God is blessing and extending His Kingdom through our local churches.
Wednesday began in Fishers where I had the privilege of worshiping with the HQ staff. Rev. Scott and Elizabeth Rhyno led worship with their children. While Scott’s new position at HQ is Chief Development, the Rhyno family are among the most gifted worship leaders in The Wesleyan Church. We’re blessed to have them living in Indiana and I encourage you to invite them to lead worship in your church or ministry event before their schedule fills.
Wednesday lunch I dropped in on one of the Crossroads District youth pastor roundtables. Joe Deckard was leading the roundtable in Indy and Lane Sanders led the roundtable in Marion. One way you know it’s a youth pastor meeting is that you can find them at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m grateful for the leadership that Lane and Joe are giving to encourage and resource our youth pastors across the district.
After lunch, I met with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, and district superintendents from our region for a great time of dialogue. It was so encouraging to hear positive reports from across this area. Dr. Schmidt shared updates from his first few months in office and the results of the focused prayer initiative. Discipleship and church multiplication are being prioritized in a new way as we partner together to fulfill the Great Commission.
This week, I will be with our Crossroads District team at the ReEquip Conference in Fort Wayne. Next week’s update will include insights from these session. Also coming up this week is the Crossroads District Men’s Banquet in Cicero. Next Sunday, I’ll be at Marion Chapel Pike for their 100th Anniversary.
Please do continue to pray for Pastor Paul Trent as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer. His is fatigued but pressing forward in faith.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday, October 2, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Bill and Susan Thompson and the congregation at Lone Oak Wesleyan Church just outside Anderson. This was homecoming Sunday and featured musical guests Sacred Calling. We celebrated World Communion Sunday and then joined the church family for their homecoming luncheon.
Pastor Bill leads our Madison County Zone and is also chair of the Anderson Christian Clergy Association. I was encouraged to hear his report of the Reconciliation March held on Saturday that was jointly organized by the predominantly white Christian Clergy Association of Anderson and the primarily African American Concerned Ministers of Anderson. The idea for the march came about when the Rev. Anthony Harris with the Church Upon the Rock had a dream of a march to bring the entire community together.
Pastor Bill Thompson reported that more than 30 pastors led this march bringing together black and white congregations to walk together across the 8th Street bridge then they gathered for prayer in Athletic Park. Approximately 150 people were part of this demonstration of unity. They are already planning to expand participation in next year’s event. Thank you, Pastor Bill, for stepping up to lead in this way!
Today was also a special time at The River Church in Marion as they celebrated their 9th birthday. Congratulations to Pastor Matthew Trexler and the team who stepped out in faith 9 years ago. God has blessed the church in remarkable ways as hundreds of lives have impacted for eternity. Thank you, Pastor Matthew and Nicole for leading with vision and courage!
Last week was an exciting time of connecting with our Crossroads District team. Many of you will know that we’ve organized the new district into 3 regions. Region 1 is comprised of the churches in the northeast centered around Fort Wayne. Region 2 is comprised of the churches centered around greater Indianapolis area. Region 3 includes the churches on the west side of our district from Lafayette to the south suburbs of Chicago. Last week, Region 2 met on Monday at Indianapolis Trinity, Region 1 met on Wednesday at Fort Wayne Three Rivers, and Region 3 met on Thursday at Plymouth Wesleyan. It was so encouraging to hear the praise reports at each gathering and to see our pastors close the meeting in prayer groups.
There was a very strong turnout across the district with 120 pastors and ministerial staff joining in for these roundtables on the ministry strategy of our new district. We talked about leadership development (especially DBMD) and the role each pastor plays in raising up the next generation of disciple-makers. We are challenging each pastor to preach at least once this year on the call and to share their own testimony of being called to ministry.
We talked about the strength of the district in partnering together to plant churches. It was a joy to hear first-hand reports in Region 2 from Rev. Jordan Gardner, pastor/planter at Westfield Paradox Church, and in Region 3 from Rev. Marc Ulrich, pastor/planter of Rethink Church in Merrillville. Every church is being challenged to prayerfully consider the steps they will take to plant or partner in planting a new church in the next 5 years. If every church we plant also plants, we will be well on our way to achieving our vision of 100 new multiplying Kingdom communities by 2026.
The third focal point for our district is church revitalization. We want to see every church reaching its maximum potential for Kingdom impact. One of the ways we do that is through Maximizing Impact weekend consultations and follow-up coaching. The team has already worked with Anderson Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church and will be serving Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church and Westview Wesleyan Church before Christmas. If you’d like your church to benefit from this experience, please contact our office. The mission of every church is to make more and better disciples. Together, we can baptize 10,000 new disciples by 2026.
This conference year, each region will hold a fall and a spring meeting. In the interim, the pastors are gathering in zones for a Christmas fellowship and then again in the spring to prioritize church planting projects. I’m grateful to Assistant District Superintendents, Rev. Jason Tash (Region 1), Rev. Mike Colaw (Region 2), and Rev. Chris Williams (Region 3), for the leadership they are bringing to these partnerships. I also want to say thanks to Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Wesleyan), Rev. Mike Colaw (Indianapolis Trinity) and Dr. Ollie Dongell (Plymouth Wesleyan) for their generosity in hosting these regional gatherings last week.
On Tuesday, I was blessed so sit in on the Region 1 DBMD interviews led by Dr. Jim Lo, the Region 1 chair. In our new organization, ministerial students are recommended by zones to their regional DBMD. licensed ministers are recommended to the district-wide DBMD by the regional DBMD, and ordination candidates are recommended to the District Conference by the district DBMD. This alignment is designed to ensure that the role of DBMD is development, not just gate-keeping.
On Thursday evening, I met with the LBA at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church as they made interim plans for the church while Pastor Paul Trent is undergoing treatment. Mr. Doug Shuck is the vice-chair and the LBA is responding well to the increased responsibility. Pastor Paul Trent and I talked by phone and he once again expressed his deep appreciation for the Crossroads District team and their prayer support.
Friday, I joined Dr. David Smith, chair of the DBMD, along with 9 representatives (3 from each Regional DBMD) to interview licensed ministers moving toward ordination. Dr. Smith brings the mind of an scholar and the heart of a pastor to this important work. We met with outstanding candidates and it was a joy to hear how God is calling and preparing workers for His harvest field. We anticipate as many as 16 ordination candidates will be ready to recommend to the district conference on June 23, 2017.
On Saturday, Sherry and I and two of our children attended the funeral of Mrs. Charlotte Ann Eckart, mother of Pastor Dan Eckart (Indianapolis Warren Park Wesleyan) and Rev. Jeff Eckart, founder of NTS (Never The Same youth camps) and Claim Your Campus (a national student-led prayer movement). I served on Jeff’s board as these ministries were launching and he was the youth pastor for our children while we were members at Kentwood Community Church. This was a celebration of life service for a woman of God who served faithfully alongside her husband, Rev. Creston Eckart, in ministry at the Antioch Pilgrim Holiness Church in Bass Lake, IN, and then for 34 years together at Warren Park Wesleyan. She continued serving at Warren Park after her husband’s death playing the piano there for a total of 57 years. The last song she played on the piano was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Our sympathies and prayers are extended to the Eckart family. Special thanks to Pastor George Martin for hosting the service at The Sanctuary Church (formerly Eastlawn Wesleyan) and to Rev. Ernest Batman (retired District Superintendent) for bringing words of remembrance and prayer.
There’s still time to register for this year’s ReEquip Conference coming up next Monday and Tuesday, October 10-11, in Fort Wayne. Join us for these nationally-recognized speakers at an affordable learning experience in your own backyard. Thank you to Pastor David Dignal for his leadership in organizing this event.
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent