Sunday, March 11, I had the privilege of worshiping at Harvest Church in McCordsville. Pastor Brad and Heidi LeRoy have done an amazing work in planting and establishing this life-giving church on the east side of Indianapolis. Last year they averaged 292 in worship with 36 professions of faith and 22 baptisms. Many of you will know that Pastor Brad has persevered through significant health struggles. Continue to pray for strength and a full recovery as Harvest Church advances the Kingdom!
It was also fun to catch up with Rev. Wayne Richards (Habitat for Missions) and then with Rev. Gwen Jackson, author of Unforced Rhythms, who had just returned from Bangladesh and the ordination of Rev. Joshe Bose, the leader of that church planting movement. Gwen and Dr. Dennis Jackson attend Harvest when they’re not traveling on behalf of Global Partners.
I know the Jackson’s appreciate the church for many reasons but at least one of those reasons is that Harvest is the home church for their grandchildren because Mike Morgan, their son-in-law, does a great job leading the church’s worship ministry. If you haven’t ordered it yet, check out Gwen’s book at http://www.unforcedrhythmsbook.com
On the way to Harvest, I stopped by The First Wesleyan Church building in Knightstown. The congregation has dwindled down to a handful of wonderful people who love the Lord and love each other. They anticipate concluding the ministry at the end of this conference year. Knightstown is not a large community but there are still 5,000 people in the zip code. Please join me in prayer for what God has in store for Knightstown.
Rev. John and Danielle Freed, pastors at Waterline Church, hosted the Crossroads District Church Planter Training Center (or Boot Camp, as it’s affectionally called) at HQ on Friday and Saturday for 18 leaders who are actively considering launching a new Kingdom community. John and Danielle do a great job serving our team by leading this training event and coaching planters. This opportunity is offered at least twice each year and you don’t have to be an ordained minister to learn more about church planting. A great first step in exploring church planting is the free pre-assessment that we offer on our district website: Crossroads District Church Planter Pre-Assessment
Last Monday, I was in Anderson to connect with Rev. Bill Thompson, then on to Elwood to meet with Rev. Doug Slack before heading over to Colfax Wesleyan to meet with their LBA and begin the pastoral search process.
Tuesday morning, I hit the road for coaching conversations with Pastor David Cox (Laketon Wesleyan), Pastor Jarod Osborne (Warsaw Wesleyan) and then with Pastor Rick Fletcher (Lifeway Wesleyan) in Fort Wayne. My last meeting on Tuesday was with Pastor Tom Bradley and the leadership team at Huntington Etna Avenue. We were able to interview a prospective candidate who meets with the entire congregation on March 18.
Wednesday, I was in Indianapolis for a meeting with Assistant DS Mike Colaw in preparation for the DBA meeting and then on to Albion Wesleyan Church for prayer meeting and to connect with their LBA team in beginning the pastoral search process. Pastor Joe Allen resigned and continues to need our prayers for ongoing health concerns including a surgery last Friday and follow-up surgery scheduled for April.
Your Crossroads District Board of Administration met in Marion at the River Church on Thursday. We were missing a couple of our members, including Coach Jeff Clark who was unable to be present due to IWU Men’s Basketball advancing in the playoffs. Dr. Norman Wilson set a new record by joining us via technology from Costa Rica.
Among the highlights of our meeting were interviewing prospective church planters for Speedway and for Pendleton. Both projects came recommended from their respective zones (Indy and Madison County) so it was a joy for the DBA to approve and affirm these leaders to launch 2 new Kingdom communities. It was also encouraging to see the high level of participation in USF, pulling ahead of last year to date. Thank you to each of you as leaders who are making this team contribution a priority.
Friday morning, I was in Fishers to meet with a prospective church planter referred to me by Dr. Lenny Luchetti from the doctoral program at Wesley Seminary. Continue to pray that God will send out workers into His harvest field! (Matthew 9:37-38)
Friday evening, Sherry and I had the privilege of welcoming lead pastors and spouses from the North Zone of Region 3, led by Rev. Don Bayne (New Carlisle). The group was a little smaller than usual with others having calendar challenges but it’s always an honor to spend an evening in fellowship and prayer with these soldiers of the Cross!
Special prayer requests this week for two of our pastoral families. Rev. Steve DeNeff’s mother passed away on Saturday and Rev. Johnnie Blair’s father passed away on Sunday afternoon. Both of these saints were faithful servants of Christ and the Church. Funeral arrangements have not been announced at the time of this post but will be forwarded to our district team as soon as possible.
April 21 is just over 4 weeks away and I can’t wait to see you and your leadership team at ReEquip 2018! Yes, the location is convenient, the price is affordable and the training is invaluable. Don’t miss Professor Mark Wilson (http://markowilson.com/), Pastor Ron Wickard, and Fuller Youth Institute’s Matthew DePrez all live and in person for this one-day event. Here’s the link to register your team today: http://www.reequipconference.org/
Save the dates:
April 9-11 – Crossroads District Regional Meetings
May 14-15 – Festival on Discipleship at College Wesleyan
June 22 – Ordination (all credential ministers are expected)
June 23 – Crossroads District Conference
August 9-10 – Global Leadership Summit
October 1-2 – Crossroads District Disciple-Making Workshop
November 6-7 – Exponential Regional Conference in Chicago
January 9-11 – THE GATHERING (Orlando)
Keep on pressing on!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Tom and Jane Bradley at Huntington Etna Avenue Wesleyan Church. It was a special delight to be there for Pastor Tom’s 71st birthday and to lead the congregation in singing “Happy Birthday” for him. I also had the joy of meeting Pastor Tom’s 91-year-old mother and other family members.
Pastor Tom is completing 11 years of ministry marked by his strong gift of personal soul-winning. He has had the privilege of baptizing 75 new believers in those 11 years. While he is stepping away from full-time ministry at Etna Avenue this June, we’re looking forward to seeing how God blesses this new chapter in Pastor Tom’s ministry of reaching people for Jesus. They’re already working on building a new home and spending some more time assisting Pastor Marc and Heather (Bradley) Ulrich with the ReThink Church plant in Merrillville.
I welcome your prayers as I meet with Etna Avenue’s leadership team on Tuesday evening to review their progress with the Maximizing Impact implementation under way and commencing the search for their next pastor.
We really do believe that our churches can become more effective through prayer and through Holy Spirit-anointed ministry with an intentional focus on disciple-making and multiplication. We have two primary resources available to Crossroads District churches in our Maximizing Impact consultation team and StratOp, a strategic operations planning process first introduced to our district by Tony Morgan’s UnStuck Group.
This weekend (Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon) I was able sit in with two of our congregations who were taking their first steps with our StratOp process. Rev. Jason Tash was working with Pastor Ryan Budde and a leadership team at Westview Wesleyan Church in Jonesboro. Rev. Matthew Trexler, with assistance from Rev. Chris Williams, was working with Pastor Tony Bye and a leadership team at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. These weekends are a lot of work for the teams but it is exciting to see how God brings clarity and unity through the process.
The national Exponential Conference was held in Orlando last week. Chris Williams and I joined with a strong delegation from our district among the 420 Wesleyan leaders who gathered for this premier event focused on disciple-making and church multiplication. The Wesleyan Church hosted a shoulder event that was well-attended and featured inspiring stories of what God is doing across our denomination.
Special guests, including General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt and Will Mancini, founder of the Auxano Group, challenged us to be churches that are intentionally focused on working to see lives and communities transformed by the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ until The Wesleyan Church has a transforming presence in every zip code.
We are making plans for our district team to take advantage of Exponential’s MidWest Regional Conference in Chicago, November 6-7, 2018. For all the details, check out their website: https://exponential.org/events/2018chi/ The location is convenient, the price is affordable and the impact is eternal!
We have received the reports from the pastoral votes for Rev. Logan Patriquin at Lafayette Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan and Rev. Lyle Breeding at Bluffton Sonlight Wesleyan Church. Both votes were extremely positive and both pastors have announced their intention to accept these 4-year calls. Bluffton Sonlight hosted their first Maximizing Impact weekend last year and Schuyler Avenue is hosting their Maximizing Impact consultation next weekend. It is encouraging to see the progress in both of these congregations!
Special prayers were going up this weekend as Pastor Logan and Shaina Patriquin’s daughter, Emery, was hospitalized with what appears to have been the flu. She is responding to treatment and we are expecting to hear that she has been released to go home today (Monday).
Pastor searches are underway at Greenfield Brown’s Chapel, Colfax Wesleyan and Huntington Etna Avenue (as noted above). Brown’s Chapel has already posted their opening on the denominational website: The Wesleyan Church
Colfax and Etna Avenue are both developing churches so their new pastors will be DBA appointments in consultation with the local leadership teams. I will be meeting with the Colfax leadership team this evening (Monday). Your prayers are needed and your nominations are welcomed.
Don’t miss it! ReEquip, April 21, is fast approaching! Register your leadership group and next generation ministries team members today! http://www.reequipconference.org/
One final and encouraging note: Pastor Dan Fisher (Delphi Wesleyan) reported that 14 people responded to the invitation for prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit yesterday morning. Praise the Lord! We still believe that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can cleanse us, fill us, empower us, and keep us!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, I had the joy of worshiping in my home church, Waterline in Fishers, where Pastor John and Danielle Freed are doing a great job leading their team forward. They’ve broken 280 in attendance the last two weeks and are ramping up for their Easter outreach to Saxony. They’re also aggressively forging ahead to partner with 5 church plants in the next 2 years. Yes, we’re celebrating every time a church multiplies!
After the early service at Waterline, I drove on to Grant City Wesleyan Church for their worship service and then conducted a meeting with their LBA in review of Pastor Dan Heylmann’s upcoming vote. Pastor Dan brought an encouraging message from Philippians 3 and the LBA affirmed his continued service with the congregational vote scheduled for March 11. Grant City faces the same challenges as many rural churches in communities with declining populations. I’m grateful for the faithful way that Dan and Shannon are serving this congregation.
Last week began with multiplication leaders from the Greater Ohio District, the Indiana South District and Crossroads District meeting at Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. Pastor Ken Murphy and his team were gracious hosts and the meeting focused on ways that our districts in the midwest could partner together to unleash, encourage and resource the emergence of more apostolic multipliers. The shaping of such a partnership will be a topic during our 2018 District Conference, June 23, at Marion College Wesleyan.
Monday evening, I met with Pastor Jeff Luedtke and the Fairmount Wesleyan Church LBA in the conference room at The Branch. The LBA enthusiastically affirmed Pastor Jeff’s leadership and the extended call. It is exciting to see the progress the church has made as they move from an inward to an outward focus on impacting their region.
Tuesday, I was in Indianapolis for a coaching conversation with Rev. Darrell Herring, supply pastor at Central Wesleyan Church. I met with Pastor Logan Westrick and the LBA at Tipton Ash Street Wesleyan. Pastor Logan’s ministry was warmly affirmed by the LBA and he’s still going strong at age 78! Pastor Logan and Nancy joined me for supper at a local restaurant and it was fun seeing them connect with community members.
Wednesday morning, I was back in Indy to meet with Rev. Stephen Nelson, to share in coaching conversations with Pastor Mike Colaw (Indy Trinity) and then with Pastor Jim Weinmann (Indy Evanston Ave). While in Indy, I also dropped in on the denominational Church Planter Assessment Center led by Sarah Cochran. Other members of the assessment team included John & Danielle Freed, Lennaire Vaughn, Rob Tippey, Michael Hewitt, and Seth Bye. If you are interest in exploring church planting, check out our free pre-assessment tool at our district website: http://www.crossroadsdistrict.org/
Rev. Scott Rhyno and Rev. Damian Williams invited me to join them for a supper meeting on Wednesday focused on raising up more Kingdom force multipliers from the marketplace. There are some exciting developments on this important front.
Thursday morning, I joined with Rev. Chris Williams to welcome Kevin Batman, General Treasurer, to meet with our Investment Committee. This team will be bringing a recommendation to our March DBA meeting.
Thursday afternoon, Sherry and I hosted Rev. Jon Wiest and the Discipleship Cohort at Thornapple Lodge. The group shared lunch and then went to work sharing their learnings from studying "No Silver Bullet" by Daniel Im. You’ll be hearing more from this group as they prepare to host a district workshop on discipleship on October 1-2, 2018.
Friday morning, I met with our staff team in Marion. I’m grateful for the partnership of Rev. Chris Williams, Mrs. Roxene Lo, and Seth Bye as we work together to serve our growing team here in the Crossroads District. Friday evening, Sherry and I had the privilege of welcoming 7 of our pastoral couples from the Grant County team led by Pastor Jeff Luedtke. We had a delightful time of fellowship and meaningful time of prayer together.
After the zone fellowship, Pastor Tony Bye and I made a quick trip to Fort Wayne to drop in on Rev. Lane Sander, District Youth President, and his amazing crew led by Pastor Andy Jellison who hosted more than 500 teens and more than 100 sponsors for our annual Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter! Pastor Michael Hewitt, Muncie Rising Hope, was the keynote speaker and the team reported dozens of spiritual decisions.
On Saturday morning, I dropped in on the StratOp weekend that Rev. Chris Williams was leading with Pastor Steve Martin at Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church and then stopped by Waterline Church on Saturday afternoon for their leadership event.
This week, Chris and I will be in Orlando with 400+ other Wesleyans at the Exponential Conference. Roxene and Seth will be holding down the fort while we’re gone.
Some of the main sessions of Exponential will be streaming live from this site: http://live.exponential.org/
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Elwood Main Street Wesleyan with Pastor Tim and Jennifer Becker on Sunday morning, February 18. Main Street is a vibrant, multi-generational church with exceptional music teams and a big heart for teens and children. The Sunday evening youth group runs 20 or more and Main Street also offers a Monday evening AWANA program. I enjoyed preaching to the receptive congregation and meeting with the LBA after the service.
After lunch with the Becker family, I drove on to Elkhart for a follow-up meeting with the leaders of Iglesia Cielos Abiertos (Spanish for “Open Heaven Church”). Pastor Eliogy Guerrero is leading this team and it was a joy to connect with members of the launch team that is meeting in his home. Pastor Guerrero has extensive experience in leading church planting teams in Venezuela and has a great vision for church planting in northern Indiana. This may be an answer to the prayer that the Warsaw Zone has been praying about church planting possibilities among the growing Hispanic population in Warsaw and Goshen.
Congratulations to Fountain City Wesleyan Church as they have called Rev. Steve Bray to be the next Senior Pastor, following the incredibly effective ministry of Dr. David Anderson who will now step into a newly-created role as Assistant Pastor. It was great to speak with Pastor Steve as he let me know he was accepting the call and passionate about the future of Fountain City Wesleyan Church. Let’s lift Pastor Steve and Susan in our prayers as they step into this new leadership role!
Last week’s ministry schedule included pastoral calls reviews with the boards at Tipton Trinity (Monday), Marion Chapel Pike (Tuesday), and Hartford City (Thursday). Each of the pastoral calls was extended and I was reminded again of the significant value that our board members add in their key governance roles.
Last week also included coaching conversations with Pastor Marvin Lamb (Miami Wesleyan), Pastor Tom Bradley (Huntington Etna Avenue), Pastor Shane Wilson (Columbia City New Hope), Dr. Oliver Dongell (Plymouth), and Pastor Dale Munsell (Albion Cornerstone). Pastor Lamb will be retiring in June after a combined 30 years of pastoring Miami Wesleyan. Rev. Bradley is completing 10 years of ministry in Huntington with 77 new believers baptized during his tenure.
I enjoyed time off on Friday which allowed me to have a lunch date with our daughter, a senior at IWU, and a supper date with Sherry which was followed by a delightful evening in Tipton watching Johnnie & Amanda Blair (pastors at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan) debut in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat” with the Tipton Community Theatre. Not only did they perform well but they’re also reaching into another sector of their community. They still have three more performances this coming weekend if you’d like to cheer them on.
Rev. Paul James (lead consultant), Rev. David Dignal and Rev. Chris Williams were in New Castle providing a Maximizing Impact consultation for Pastor Steve Arnett and the Mt Zion Wesleyan Church. I was able to drop in on the leadership training portion of the consultation on Saturday and it was good to see the positive response of Mt. Zion’s leadership team. We are now booking consultation teams for next fall, so let us know if your congregation is ready to take advantage of this helpful district resource.
This week includes a roundtable with apostolic multipliers from the Heartland Region meeting at Cypress Wesleyan in Columbus, Ohio on Monday; Our District is also hosting a Church Planter Assessment Center (CPAC) this week (Monday-Wednesday) led by Rev. Tom and Sarah Cochran. On Thursday, Sherry and I will be hosting the new Discipleship Cohort at Thornapple Lodge and then, on Friday night, we’ll be welcoming the lead pastors and their spouses for the Region 1 South Zone 1 for supper and fellowship.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars and remind your leadership team members to join us on April 21st as we gather in Marion for ReEquip. For details and registration visit our website: http://www.reequipconference.org/
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of making our way to Fort Wayne this morning to join Pastor Kyle & Nadine Horton and their team at Three Rivers Wesleyan Church. The roads were a bit icy but it was worth it to worship with them and then to spend time over lunch meeting with their Local Board of Administration. Pastor Kyle is completing his initial four-year call and the LBA unanimously affirmed his leadership and recommended another four-year call.
This Sunday was a day of celebration across our district. Dr. David Anderson and the Fountain City Wesleyan Church celebrated being debt free 17 years ahead of schedule and burned their $4 million mortgage with Dr. Craig Dunn representing WIF, their funding partner. This is a tremendous accomplishment that speaks so well to Pastor David’s leadership and the generosity of the Fountain City congregation in response to God’s provision as they reach out to impact the world for Christ!
Noblesville Waterline Church celebrated their 7th anniversary on Sunday and announced their vision to help plant 5 more congregations in the next 2 years. Congratulations to Pastor John and Danielle Freed and their team for this important milestone and for their exciting vision for a future filled with multiplication.
Last week, I was at Southern Wesleyan University on Monday through Wednesday, preaching in chapel and guest lecturing in class with Professor Mark Wilson (who will be with us on April 21 for ReEquip). It is always encouraging to connect with Pastor Mark!
Dr. Todd Voss is doing a great job as President at SWU, my alma mater, and I enjoyed interacting with a wonderful group of students who wanted to learn more about church planting in the Crossroads District. It is also exciting to see the progress as Dr. Mike Tapper has stepped in to lead their Christian Ministries Department.
I was back on the road in Indiana on Thursday for a meeting at HQ with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent, and lunch in Fishers with Rev. Wayne Richards (Habitat for Missions). I closed out the day in Crawfordsville with Rev. Keith Jones and the fine folks at Sonlight Wesleyan Church.
Friday included a meeting with a prospective supply pastor and then touring Huntington with a couple who are praying about the possibility of following Pastor Tom Bradley at Etna Avenue Wesleyan Church.
Sherry and I are always grateful for the opportunity to host our lead pastors and their spouses for zone fellowships at Thornapple Lodge. This past Friday evening we were joined by Pastor Mark Atkinson’s team (Region 1 South Zone 2) for a delightful evening of laughter, singing, and prayer. We have an incredible team of pastors here in the Crossroads District!
On Saturday, I attended the memorial service for Rev. Howard Barefoot at the Lebanon Wesleyan Church. Rev. Ernest Batman brought a heartfelt sermon and members of the family contributed memories and readings. Pastor Barefoot leaves an incredible legacy of faith in his family and from his ministry. Please continue to remember Mrs. Dorothy Barefoot in your prayers.
Saturday afternoon, I was at Southview Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis to meet with Pastor Rick Matthews for our annual coaching conversation and then to meet with the Local Board of Administration as they unanimously affirmed his extended call.
Pastor Matthew Trexler and The River Church joined with dozens of churches across America and the Tim Tebow Foundation this week to provide “Night To Shine,” a wonderful evening for special needs adults. The IWU women’s basketball team and IWU Chaplain Dr. John Bray got in on the excitement this year.
I love receiving baptism reports from across our district team! Last weekend, Pastor Jim Weinmann and the Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis celebrated two baptisms after the service had already concluded!
Pastor Ben Thomas and the Nehemiah Church in Avon celebrated the baptisms of two young men this weekend. There is nothing more exciting than celebrating with Heaven as people find new life in Christ!
Don’t miss these coming events! The Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter will be held in Fort Wayne on February 23. The leaders of our student ministries do a great job of pulling together this event which welcomed more than 500 students last year!
Mark your calendars and bring your team to ReEquip 2018 in Marion on Saturday, April 21. There are multiple events happening from 9-3 so bring your staff and volunteer leaders to this affordable learning experience: http://www.reequipconference.org/
We have an amazing privilege of serving together in the only cause that counts for eternity! Let’s keep reaching for one more!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, Sherry and I worshiped with Pastor Eric Roemer and the team at Greentown Wesleyan Church. After the challenging message from Pastor Eric, I met briefly with the LBA and then we hosted Eric and Amanda and their precious girls for lunch. Amanda is a great partner with Eric in their ministry and also takes time to serve as a lay member of our District Board of Administration.
Greentown was one of the first churches in our district to welcome the Maximizing Impact team consultation. It was encouraging to be back on site and to see the continued progress they are making in reaching their community for Christ. Pastor Eric is great help on district events and is also serving as chair for the Greentown Ministerial Association this year.
Last week’s schedule included coaching conversations with the following pastors: Matthew Trexeler (The River), Paul Van Cise (Bryant), Randy Yaryan (Winchester), Steve DeNeff (College), Eric Roemer (Greentown), Don Bayne (New Carlisle), Marc Ulrich (Merrillville-ReThink), Tom Cochran (Chesterton), and Rick Patterson (Colfax).
In this week’s coaching conversations, I’ve heard praise reports of miraculous healing, stories of life change, and one church that has seen a 40% increase in tithing since last year. God is on the move in Indiana!
I also met with three of our pastors through the week to work on property matters in Muncie, Crawfordsville, and Indianapolis. Retired Chaplain Gordon Ritchie was in town for a few days and it was good to connect and hear more about the doors that God is opening for his continued ministry after 24 years of active military duty.
Another highlight this week was dropping in on FUEL, the denomination’s training for the leaders of next generation ministries (children and youth). More than 300 leaders gathered from across the US and Canada for this event that one young leader described as “life-changing!” Congratulations to Zach Coffin and his team from HQ for an excellent training experience! Lane Sander, our Crossroads District Youth Leader, did a fine job of hosting our participants for supper on Friday. Just a reminder to mark your calendars for the Crossroads ReEquip training event in Marion on April 21 which will feature Matthew Deprez, one of the keynote speakers from FUEL.
Many of you have been praying for and supporting the launch of ReThink Church in Merrillville. We’re grateful for Pastor Marc and Heather Ulrich who are leading the team in planting this new congregation in our northwest corner. ReThink celebrated their one-year anniversary last month with 70 people in attendance. Since moving their worship experience to Sunday morning, in January, they’ve welcomed 35 first-time guests. Keep on praying!
On Friday, we received word that Rev. Howard Barefoot, beloved pastor, husband, father and friend, had passed away. He and Dorothy had been wintering in Brooksville, Florida. Rev. Barefoot was know for his warmth, his optimism, his love for God and his gracious way with people. Our prayers are with Mrs. Dorothy Barefoot, the family and the many friends who will miss him. I am grateful for his prayers and encouragement to me. Funeral arrangements will be shared as soon as we receive the details.
Saturday afternoon, I had the joy of connecting with three prospective church planters from Venezuela. It was exciting to pray with them and to consider the possibilities of planting many Hispanic churches across northern Indiana, beginning in Elkart and Goshen. The Warsaw zone, led by Pastor Jarod Osborne, has made this a matter of focused prayer and has prioritized Hispanic church planting as one of the key needs in their region. Pray that God will continue to send out workers into His harvest!
This week, I’ll be speaking in chapel at Southern Wesleyan University and connecting with prospective residents and church planters for our district, returning on Wednesday. Your prayers are always appreciated.
This Friday evening, February 9, Sherry and I are looking forward to hosting Rev. Mark Atkinson and the lead pastors and their spouses for the Marion Zone 2 fellowship at Thornapple Lodge. Cindy Horn has graciously assisted in sending out reminders. The doors open after 6 pm and supper is served at 6:30. We value these times of fellowship and encouragement that are building a stronger, more connected Crossroads team!
May God continue to bless as you pursue the Great Commission in the Spirit of the Great Commandment!
Your servant in Christ,
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,