More than 150 Crossroads District team members (pastors and their spouses) joined with another 1800 Wesleyan leaders who came from across the USA, Canada and even New Zealand for The Gathering. First established in 2007, this marked the fourth time that Wesleyan leaders have convened like this for worship, training and renewal.
Rev. Carol Schenck, Noblesville campus pastor for Circle of Hope and our District Secretary, posted this on her Facebook page:
“Preparing to head back home after an amazing Pastors’ Conference. We thank our home district, Crossroads, for their assistance in helping provide many of us as district pastors funding to attend. This conference was life-changing in so many ways for many of us. On behalf of all of us from Circle of Hope campuses, we say thank you for the care you give to us as district pastors. We are the blessed ones!”
Congratulations to Executive Director Becci Wood and her team who organized The Gathering, a ministry of the HQ Department of Education and Clergy Development. The generosity of the Wesleyan Investment Foundation as the lead sponsor was a special blessing to this event.
The music team led us in Spirit-filled worship. The speakers were real and relevant. And the fellowship was sweet as new friendships were formed and long-time ministry colleagues reunited. Special appreciation goes to our District Board of Administration who committed resources from our Thrive Fund to match the contributions of local churches and make it possible for so many of our pastors and their spouses to attend.
Sherry and I left on Sunday afternoon and drove to the event with 8 large boxes of T-shirts to be distributed as the Heartland Region launched its new website:
My first appointment was with the members of the Boards of Trustees from all five our Wesleyan higher education institutions. Our sessions began with lunch on Tuesday and concluded on Wednesday afternoon. We covered a variety of helpful topics for the challenging times that face our colleges.
My schedule changed when we received word that Assistant DS Chris Williams’ mother, Mrs. Joyce Williams, had unexpectedly passed away on Tuesday. We were already scheduled to host our Crossroads District team for a luncheon on Thursday so Sherry, Seth and I handled that and then I had a planning meeting with the Heartland Region DS team late Thursday afternoon. As soon as that meeting was over, I left for Maryland and arrived in Salisbury, MD on Friday evening to represent our team at the visitation time. The funeral was held at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church on Saturday morning.
Rev. Chris Williams and Sean, his son and Joyce’s oldest grandchild, both did a great job sharing memories and paying tribute to Mrs. Williams as a loving mother and grandmother. Rev. Mark Bunting and Rev. Tom Bunting conducted the funeral and they both affirmed the wonderful legacy of faith that Joyce left for her family and friends.
From Maryland, I was heading west into the oncoming snowstorm so Rev. Damian and Anne Williams graciously hosted me in the Pittsburgh suburbs. The Williams generously funded several of our first Maximizing Impact weekends here in Indiana and it was good to reconnect with them. I worshiped with them at Allison Park Church, their home church, on Sunday morning,
This wonderful ministry, led by Pastor Jeff Leake, has launched more than 100 church plants across the northeastern states in the past 10 years. After a brief lunch with the Williams, I hit the road and made it safely back to Indiana before sunset. No matter how far you roam, there’s no place like home!
This week we’re praying for Pastor Joe & Dawn Deckard who are hosting their first preview service in Pendleton this coming Sunday, 10:30 a.m., for a new church plant as part of the Waterline Church network. If you have unsaved, unchurched friends or relatives in the Pendleton area, let them know about this new campus of Waterline Church:
There is still time to register for the Crossroads District’s Youth Ministry All-Nighter. This year’s event is scheduled for Fri-Sat, Feb. 22-23, in Fort Wayne. All the youth leaders who are on file with our district office have received detailed information from DYP Lane Sander. If you haven’t received the information, please add you name to the list at our office and make sure your teenagers don’t miss this powerful event! Click here for more information!
Mark your calendar for ReEquip 2019, on April 6, in Marion. Our guest speakers will be Pastor Mike & Tina Hilson, (New Life Network in LaPlata, MD) who are setting the pace for church multiplication, and Dr. David Smith, TrueNorth Ministry, who is helping churches deepen the level of Bible engagement among their members. There will also be specialized breakouts for children and youth leaders. Click here to visit the ReEquip website!
We’re praising the Lord with Pastor Tony Bye and the Brookhaven Wesleyan Church who are off to a great start in 2019 baptizing 7 new believers yesterday morning. Praise the Lord for each one who publicly professed their faith in Christ!
I’m believing with you for a great year of Kingdom advance in 2019!
Your servant in Christ,
Happy New Year! It’s always exciting to launch into a new year of ministry. Sunday morning, January 6, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Brent and Naomi Miller and the welcoming congregation at Southside Wesleyan Church in Gas City. After the service, I held a brief meeting with the Local Board of Administration.
Pastor Brent is completing his sixth year of ministry as lead pastor after a season on staff with Pastor Mark Atkinson at Eastview Wesleyan. Pastor Brent is one of our effective bi-vocational pastors. Southside is his home church so he’s navigated some unique challenges as he’s led the church from averaging 40 to running more than 70. They’ve made positive improvements in the ministry and facility. One of their recent initiatives was to host a community outreach event called: Who-Bilation.
The team worked hard to pull off this special event and were blown away when the community responded with more than 500 attending. Pray for Pastor Brent and the Southside team as they follow-up on some new friends and reach out to their community.
The last Sunday of the year, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Franz & Yuldia Gonzalez at Vida y Esperanza. Pastor Frank and his family received immigration status in the USA among the many thousands who have fled the socialist regime in Venezuela. They came to Goshen, Indiana, with little but their vibrant faith in Christ. In March, 2016, Pastor Franz gathered the first small group in his home. Today, they worship in rented space with as many as 60 people now comprising the congregation. Through our mutual friend in Elkhart, Pastor Eliorgy Guerrero, Pastor Gonzalez and this Goshen congregation are taking steps to joining our Crossroads District team. Pray that God will bless their outreach to the growing Hispanic community in northern Indiana.
Last week included our staff meeting on Wednesday, attending the funeral of Dr. Thomas Phillippe (beloved church leader and a ministerial member of the Crossroads District), meeting with Pastor Tim McClellan and the StratOp team at Lakeview Wesleyan Church, meeting with one of our pastors in preparation for his upcoming vote, and meeting with an LBA members from another church who will be leading their team’s pastoral search. (As much as I enjoyed the break, I was excited to get back to the work that God has called us to do together!)
I trust your Christmas was blessed with meaningful times of celebration and connection, both with your church family and with loved ones. There are inspiring reports posted on social media from many of our churches who also made this a season of focused outreach to their communities. Thank you to each church leader who went the second and third mile to mobilize their teams for these high impact opportunities. If you haven’t already done so, make time to debrief with your team. Take notes on what worked and what you can improve. Christmas 2019 will be here before you know it!
Sherry and I will be joining about 1500 other Wesleyan pastors and their spouses in Orlando this week for The Gathering. Please pray that God will meet with us and pour out His Holy Spirit on us in fresh ways for the Harvest.
Three upcoming events that you’ll want to add to your calendar:
Our Crossroads District’s Youth Ministry hosts an amazing all-nighter each year. This year’s event is scheduled for Fri-Sat, Feb. 22-23, in Fort Wayne. All the youth leaders who are on file with our district office have received detailed information from DYP Lane Sander. If you haven’t received the information, please add you name to the list at our office and make sure your teenagers don’t miss this powerful event! Click here for more information!
ReEquip 2018 was terrific and this year’s one-day training event for lay leaders and pastors promises to be even better. Our guest speakers will be Pastor Mike & Tina Hilson, (New Life Network in LaPlata, MD) who are setting the pace for church multiplication, and Dr. David Smith, TrueNorth Ministry, who is helping churches deepen the level of Bible engagement among their members. There will also be specialized breakouts for children and youth leaders. Plan to bring your team and join us in Marion on April 6. Click here to visit the ReEquip website!
Oswald Chambers wrote that, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” If that quote challenges you as much as it challenges me, please join us for “Crying Out” our 2019 prayer retreat to be held this year at Fairmount Camp on April 12-13. Dr. Jim Lo and a team of intercessors will be leading pastors and local church leaders through guided corporate and personal prayer during this retreat. Please put this date on your calendar and plan to join us.
Let’s pray and work together for an amazing year of Kingdom harvest in Indiana in 2019!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of joining Pastor David and Suzanne Cox yesterday morning for worship at Laketon Wesleyan Church. Established in 1903, Laketon Wesleyan, another of our small rural churches, is located in a community with 97 homes. Led by Pastor Dave, another of our faithful, bi-vocational ministers, the congregation is reaching out to their families, neighbors and friends. David stepped in to “temporarily supply the pulpit” in 2014 and has been there ever since.
Pastor David and Suzanne commute from Warsaw, where they live and work, but they have seen the church rebound from worship attendance of 19 in 2014 to averaging close to 40. They now have a vibrant children’s ministry on Wednesdays, led by Assistant Pastor Josh Warren, and have recently added on to the building providing a nursery, two bathrooms and an office on the main level. Last year they recorded 6 professions of faith and celebrated 2 baptisms. We’re excited about the future for Laketon Wesleyan as they work together to share God’s love in their community.
Sunday evening, I joined with Lead Pastor John Freed and the team from Waterline Church as hosted a vision-casting gathering for their new campus launching this spring in Pendleton with Rev. Joe Deckard serving as campus pastor. It was wonderful to hear how God has been raising up key ministry leaders (worship, children, tech) to join this launch team. I also heard encouraging stories that God has already been opening hearts and providing pathways into the community.
Last Monday, I had the opportunity to connect with pastors in the Fort Wayne area. I met with Pastor Aaron Lee (LaOtto Cultivate Church) and Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Church) over lunch, then met with Pastor Heath Croft (Level 13) before having coffee with Pastor Dave Dignal (Edgerton). Pastor Rick Fletcher had invited me to share the Christmas meal with LifeWay Church’s Local Board of Administration. LifeWay is experiencing a wonderful season of growth, averaging 250 over the last few weeks.
Tuesday morning, I met with our district staff before heading back to Fort Wayne for the 25k service on our district vehicle. I was able to make good use of the downtime catching up on phone calls and reading a book called “Reinforcements.” The book explores the research that reveals how people are more willing to help us then we are to ask them.
Wednesday morning, I dropped in at Lapel Daybreak Church to check on Pastor Andy Cole. Elicia is getting the family settled in while Andy is mobilizing volunteers to complete some needed construction projects at the church. I met with Pastors Rochelle and Travis Jenkins for lunch in Irvington before visiting their ministry location in the Little Flowers neighborhood. They’re making in progress launching their house church network by building relationships with coworkers and neighbors. One of their friends even gifted them with a donation to purchase coffee branded mugs to use in spreading the word about Circle City Wesleyan Church. It has been a joy to welcome Rochelle and Travis to the Crossroads District team this year.
My final meeting in the city was with Pastor John Miller. He and Heather are building the launch team for Way City Church to be launched this next year in Speedway. They faced a real challenge finding a meeting space in which they could hold their public worship services. After many closed doors, Pastor John was excited to show me around in “The Factory” a state of the art fitness center on right at the Speedway exit off I-465. You may not tell from this picture but John is just a little bit excited about this answer to prayer!
Thursday morning, I joined Dr. Richard and Pastor Carol Schenck at Circle of Hope’s Noblesville campus for a conversation with another prospective partner church for their growing network. This past weekend, between the 35 in their Dhaka campus and the 4 sites in Indiana, 288 people worshiped as part of the Circle of Hope network.
Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege of convening our quarterly meeting of the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church. We had a wonderful team of representatives, lay leaders and clergy, from larger churches of 1000 in attendance to a house church with 3 families, from congregations 175-years-old to ministries that are just being launched, from single-site congregations in the core city to multi-site networks that span the globe. In addition to the accountability steps of policy compliance and financial reporting, we engaged in strategic conversations about leadership development and funding strategies for launching ministries in new zip codes.
Two of the highlights of our meeting was hearing an update from Pastor Mike Hewitt about Rising Hope, our newest church in Muncie, and hearing an update from Dr. David Drury about the house church network that he and Kathy are launching Fishers. Following this productive meeting, we gathered with G.S. Dr. Wayne and Jan Schmidt to share in a delightful Christmas meal. The DBA presented Jan with a lovely Christmas basket and we added to Dr. Schmidt’s collection of novelty socks. (The picture below is from his public Facebook page so I can share it with you.)
Friday morning, Assistant DS Chris WIlliams and I met at Abbey Coffee for planning and to handle follow-up items from the DBA. Friday evening, Sherry and I were honored to host Pastor Mark & Ronda Atkinson, Pastor Brent & Naomi Miller, Pastor Tom & Kara Parsons, and Pastor Ryan & Rachel Budde for their zone’s fellowship gathering at Thornapple. These evenings are a blessing to us and we hope these times are encouraging to our team members. We received a text on Saturday morning from one couple who wrote, “We sure had a great time. Thank you for your incredible hospitality. Definitely was an aura of love in the house.” Special thanks to Sherry, my amazing wife, who goes the second mile to make these evenings possible.
Saturday, I was able to drop in on amazing community outreach called “The Big Give” that River Church hosted in Marion. We join them in praising God for more than 1000 Christmas boxes donated, more than 3000 attendees, and more than 200 decisions for Christ. Saturday evening, I joined with Pastor Clifton Ashlock at United Wesleyan Church in Anderson in their Spanish-language evening service as they hosted Rev. Dr. Diego Chuyma as their guest speaker for the weekend. Dr. Chuyma holds a D.Min from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves cross-culturally as a church planter and theological educator in Bolivia. We’re praying with Anderson United Wesleyan as they move through this year of leadership transition.
Just a reminder that it’s not too late to register for the Gathering! We’d love to have you join our team in Orlando next month (January 9-11) and, at last word, there are still district matching funds available. Link to the Gathering info
Our office will be closed next week but I will still be available to our district pastors, as needed, by phone or email. This will be our last weekly team update of the 2018 calendar year so, on behalf of our Crossroads District team, please know that our prayers are for you, your family, and your congregation to have a blessed Christmas celebration and all the best that God promises in the new year!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Dan and Alana Van Cise at West 8th Street Wesleyan Church this morning, December 9. Dan is one of our district’s faithful bi-vocational pastors. One of the things most I appreciate about Pastor Dan’s leadership is the intentional way that he involves and mentors IWU students in the ministry at West 8th Street. IWU students helped lead worship this morning and offered the Advent candle reading. After preaching a Christmas message in the service, I met briefly with Pastor Dan and members of the LBA before Sherry and I enjoyed hosting Pastor Dan & Alana for lunch.
Sunday evening, Sherry and I joined Pastor Tim & Cynthia McClellan for the annual Lakeview Wesleyan Church Christmas Cantata. Some of you may know that Sherry works part-time with Pastor Tim’s finance team. Congratulations to Pastor Tim and the Lakeview team for working together to pull off this inspiring concert.
Last Monday was an office day. It was good to catch up on some reading, email, and phone calls. Tuesday morning, our district team met at Abbey Coffee for our weekly staff meeting. Tuesday afternoon, I had a scheduled meeting via ZOOM with GS Dr. Wayne Schmidt for an annual prayer connection. I was in the northern part of our district Tuesday evening for our annual coaching conversation with Rev. Jere Gowin, pastor of Kingsford Heights Wesleyan Church. Rev. Gowin is another of our bi-vocational pastors. It was encouraging to hear of the teenager who gave his life to Christ at the church this year. Pastor Jere is also mentoring someone who is taking steps to answer a call to ministry.
The highlight of Wednesday was an ideation session with Chris and Seth as we looked at the resources available to assist our pastors with life planning. We are working on a series of three events. The first will be for new pastors in the launching phase of ministry. The second event will be for mid-career pastors in the prime season of ministry. The third event would be for pastors who are preparing for their encore phase. Stay tuned for opportunities to help pilot these leadership development experiences in 2019.
I spent Thursday morning in my office doing sermon preparation for Sunday’s assignment and then Sherry and I hosted Rev. Steve & Beth Jones for a visit in the afternoon. Beth is my younger sister and Steve and I served together in ministry for 4+ years in North Dakota. It is always exciting to hear how God is blessing their work at LifeChange Community Church in Burnips, Michigan.
Friday morning, I attended IWU’s closing chapel of the fall semester. Dr. John Bray, IWU’s Chaplain, does a great job leading the spiritual life team. I checked in on Mrs. Roxene Lo after chapel and was glad to hear that her cataract surgery went well.
Friday afternoon, Sherry and I picked up Chris & Marietta Williams and drove to Monon for the Region 3 Christmas fellowship at The Whistle Stop. More than 30 people, pastors and spouses, joined us at this unique restaurant which features America’s largest private museum of railroad memorabilia. The food was delicious and the fellowship was terrific. Thank you to Chris and Seth for their exceptional work in putting this event together to express appreciation to our pastors.
Saturday morning, I was with Assistant DS Chris Williams in Tipton at Ash Street Wesleyan Church as he rolled out a modified Maximum Impact model for smaller churches. The team had already completed a self-study before this session. Chris worked with Pastor Logan Westrick and a committed team of leaders learning about the marks of a faithful church and core growth engines.
Then, on Sunday morning, Chris was on site for observations in the first impressions, worship experience and children’s ministry. Chris will follow-up with a report that includes observations and recommendations. If the LBA adopts the report, Chris will also be available to provide implementation coaching. If you pastor a church that averages less than 50 in worship attendance and would be interested in learning more about this consultation, please contact our office.
Saturday evening, Sherry and I were able to enjoy IWU’s Christmas Extravaganza. It was an amazing evening with 240 talented vocalists and musicians delivering an uplifting experience for a packed house. It was also a special occasion as President David Wright recognized Dr. Earle Wilson, General Superintendent Emeritus, who was present and celebrating his 84th birthday!
Many of you will know that The River Church in Marion accepted the challenge of launching a campus in Chesterton with a core team and our existing facility. They’ve been in a silent phase of training the team and planting seeds for several weeks but this past weekend was a significant step forward. The River Church in Chesterton blessed their city with a “Big Give” inspired and resourced by the team in Marion. More than 100 families were blessed with Christmas gift boxes on Saturday and, best of all, 17 people prayed to receive Christ as the Gospel was presented. Special thanks to Pastor Matthew Trexler and the Marion team for the extraordinary investment of prayer, time and energy they’ve made in preparing to launch this campus.
This coming week’s schedule includes our District Board of Administration meeting on Thursday and a Friday evening fellowship at Thornapple with Pastor Mark Atkinson’s zone members. Then, next Sunday morning, I’m looking forward to my first visit at Laketon Wesleyan Church with Pastor David & Suzanne Cox.
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom in this Advent season!
Your servant in Christ,
ReEquip (One Day District Leadership Training Event) – April 6, 2019
Crying Out (District Prayer Retreat) – April 12-13, 2019
Sunday morning, December 2, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Brian Williams and the congregation at Sims Wesleyan Church. This is a warm and welcoming church family serving a rural community on the west side of Grant County.
Pastor Brian and Dianna Williams have pastored here since 1987. Rural ministry can be challenging but last year they averaged 42 in worship with 30 in Sunday School and 3 professions of faith. Pastor Brian has encouraged the congregation to be faithful in sharing their stories and testimonies of God’s grace with their relatives and friends. We closed the service yesterday with a commissioning prayer.
I also enjoyed meeting with the LBA after the service. It was good to be able to affirm the progress they’ve made in maintaining and updating their property. I was reminded again that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and rural churches can still play a key role in advancing the Kingdom!
Last Monday, I met with the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for Fairmount Camp. David Tippey has done a great job of chairing the Board for the past few years but felt the time had come to turn over the gavel to the next leader. The Executive Committee developed a strong list of potential candidates that they’ll be contacting and would invited you to join them in praying for God’s direction in this important selection process.
Tuesday morning, I met with Pastor Mark Atkinson for an update on the multi-site ministry of Eastview Wesleyan Church before heading to Indy. Assistant DS Mike Colaw has opened his monthly all-staff meetings for Region 2 pastors and their teams. Chris Williams and I were able to join in for this month’s session which featured Rev. Ian Swyers from Global Partners. Ty Combs led in the Scripture meditation, Josh Lavender led us in worship and then Ian brought a challenging talk about flourishing where we’re planted. It’s great to see new team members connecting with our long-tenured leaders.
After the meeting, I met with Pastor Scott McDermid, our next pastor at Sheridan Six Points Church, for an update on the exciting developments since he’s arrived. Six Points is strategically positioned for significant impact as Hamilton County’s population continues to grow in their direction. We’re glad that Pastor Scott and Nicole (and their sons Caleb & Isaac) are part of the Crossroads District team!
Tuesday afternoon, I participated in the monthly ZOOM call that General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt hosts for the 25 district superintendents each month. This month Dr. Schmidt provided a recap from our recent General Board meeting. Tuesday evening, I met with Pastor Dan Heylmann (Grant City Wesleyan) for our annual coaching conversation.
Wednesday morning, I met with Aaron Wilkinson at Wesley Seminary for an update on some of the ways that the seminary is developing to better serve the Church. I’m grateful for Dr. Colleen Derr and the team at Wesley Seminary who provide such a valued educational resource for our students and denomination. Keep them in your prayers!
Wednesday afternoon, I joined the other 3 district superintendents of the Heartland Region for a meeting with General Treasurer Kevin Batman, Jake Lapp and Matthew Ray. We’re making progress toward a shared services agreement that will allow us to contract with the General Treasurer’s office for accounting and financial support. Both Kevin and Jake have been local church treasurers in the Crossroads District so they bring expertise and a great heart for the lay finance/accounting volunteers who serve our congregations.
Rev. Jim Weinmann and I met later Wednesday afternoon for our annual coaching conversation. The Weinmann family are still mourning the loss of their brother and son Richard (Rick) Weinmann who passed away earlier this month. Pastor Jim conducted the funeral at Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church on November 25.
Wednesday evening, I was able to attend Bible study at The Pour House. The study on “Fighting Temptations” was led by Pastor D’Aldo Jones, a friend and ministry colleague of one of our pastors. After the service, I appreciated the opportunity to sit with Pastor & Lisa Jones to hear their 19 year journey of church planting in the inner city.
Thursday, a group of pastors from the Heartland Region gathered from 10 until 3 at the IWU Greenwood campus for ELEVATE, a day of leadership development with Rev. Ken Murphy, pastor of Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. One of the clarifying questions that Ken asked that day is: “Am I owning the results of the behaviors/systems that I have either created or allowed?” Another one was: “Are we focused on building a great church but neglecting to build great people?”
Later Thursday afternoon, I met with a prospective church planter in Avon who connected with us through Wesley Seminary. He’s still a few years from launching but it was encouraging to hear how God is working in his life.
Thursday evening, I met with Rev. Barry Dixon, pastor of Indianapolis Calvary Family Church and member of the Crossroads DBA, for our annual coaching conversation. Rev. Dixon is a faithful pastor in a difficult context with a heart to reach the next generation. I’m grateful for his example and encouragement.
It was good to connect with Assistant DS Chris Williams on Friday morning before heading to Indianapolis for a coaching conversation with Rev. George Martin, pastor of The Sanctuary Church. The Sanctuary Church is an affiliate congregation that leases the former Eastlawn Wesleyan Church on Post Road. They have a dynamic ministry and it was good to catch up with Pastor Martin who recently returned from a Lilly sabbatical.
Each of our 3 regions in the Crossroads District handles their own logistics for gatherings like the Christmas season. This year, Region 2, led by Assistant DS Mike Colaw, gathered at Trinity Wesleyan Church for a banquet featuring special musical guests, Zion’s Joy. Pastor Mike & Leslie and the entire Trinity Church team did a terrific job in welcoming more than 100 pastors and spouses for an inspiring evening. (Special thanks to Barbara Nichter who makes magic happen behind the scenes at Trinity.) Dr. Joe and Lois Sawyer. were among our special guests that evening. What a blessing to see their joy in the Lord!
May the joy of the Lord be our strength as we make the most of every opportunity in this Advent Season!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday, November 25, I had the privilege of installing Rev. Andrew Cole as the new pastor at Lapel Daybreak Community Church. Daybreak was planted more than 20 years ago by Rev. Richard and Debbie Cole, Andy’s parents, so he’s no stranger to the congregation. After a successful pastorate with the Church of the Nazarene in Muncie, Andy and Elicia most recently served as lead pastor at Brookview Wesleyan Church in Birmingham, Alabama. While a member of the South Coastal District team, Rev. Cole helped lead the district church planter training and where he was also an Assistant District Superintendent.
It is exciting to see the Daybreak congregation’s positive response to Andy’s leadership. Attendance has more than doubled and there’s a wonderful sense of anticipation for this new chapter in the life of the church. We’re also looking forward to Andy’s leadership as part of our Crossroads District Team. Welcome home Andy & Elicia!
Sunday evening, I joined Pastor Terry and Lennaire Vaughn and their team at the Bridge Urban Church in South Bend. It was great to catch up with the progress of this disciples-making ministry. They have a growing core of 20-30 young adults meeting in their home on Wednesdays.
We also had the opportunity to walk through a vacant church building that may be an option as their ministry takes the step toward weekend worship services. Pray that God will grant this team His wisdom and provision as they reach out to make disciples in the challenges and opportunities of the urban mission field.
The most exciting news I heard this week was from Pastor Dan Fisher in Delphi where two people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior yesterday morning! Praise the Lord!
Last week's ministry schedule was abbreviated with the wonderful and much appreciated Thanksgiving break. On Monday, I was able to connect with Assistant DS Matthew Trexler’s Region 1 leadership cohort as they work through “DiscipleShift.”
This was a big week for the Trexler family with Adrianna, their oldest child, signing her official letter accepting an athletic scholarship with the basketball program at Indiana Wesleyan University. Pastor Matthew and Adrianna may be the first father-daughter combination to have both played intercollegiate basketball at IWU.
Tuesday morning was our district team meeting and then Assistant DS Chris Williams joined me to interview a prospective church planter over lunch. The final meeting of the day was with Pastor Tim McClellan to debrief the StratOp planning retreat at Lakeview Wesleyan and to map next steps for the two teams that are tackling the key initiatives.
Our children all made it home for Thanksgiving by Wednesday and we enjoyed having a full house to celebrate together through Saturday noon. We are blessed to have a family that loves God and loves each other. Like you, we have so much for which to be thankful!
Pastor Logan Patriquin announced this past week that The Branch (formerly Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan Church) in Lafayette successfully concluded their search for a worship and students pastor. Ms. Amber Bass will be joining their team on December 2. This is another big step of faith for the team at The Branch as they reach out to their community. We’re excited to welcome Amber to the Crossroads District team and to celebrate this answer to prayer!
The week after a break always seems to be exciting and this one will be no exception. The Region 2 pastors are meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday with Assistant DS Mike Colaw. On Thursday, the Heartland Region hosts our second ELEVATE leadership development with Pastor Ken Murphy, this time in Greenwood at IWU’s campus. Then, the Region 2 Christmas party is scheduled for Friday evening at Trinity Wesleyan Church. In between those events, I’m looking forward to coaching conversations with our pastors and at least two interviews with prospective church planters.
Please continue to pray that the Lord of Harvest will send workers into His fields!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday, November 18, I had the unique privilege of visiting one of our newest and one of our longest-established churches on the same day. Pastor Steve Bray and the team will be celebrating Fountain City Wesleyan Church’s 175th anniversary this coming Sunday. I was able to drop in and bring congratulations on this amazing milestone of ministry.
From their earliest days as one of the stops on the Underground Railroad to the global impact of the present day ministry, Fountain City Wesleyan Church has been a flagship ministry. There was a wonderful spirit of worship in the service and Rev. Ian Swyers brought the missions message for their Faith Promise Sunday.
Sunday afternoon, I had the joy of bringing the message for one of our newest congregations, Shalom Christian Church, on the south side of Indianapolis. The congregation of Shalom is comprised of wonderful believers from the Chin tribe who came to the USA as refugees from Myanmar (Burma).
Attendance now averages in the 60s and 70s with children and teenagers. After the service, I met with the leadership team and Mr. Benjamin Tlungloei who serves as their lay supply pastor. This year, one of their members became the first of their congregation to enroll on campus at Indiana Wesleyan University. Special thanks to Pastor Rick Matthews and the congregation at Southview Wesleyan Church for being such gracious hosts for this growing church.
Before heading back to Upland, I was able to connect for two more meetings, one with a prospective pastor and anther with a prospective church planter.
Monday through Wednesday of last week, I represented the Crossroads District on the General Board at the regular fall session held in Indianapolis. Dr. Wayne Schmidt led the Board through a series of discussions and decisions, not all of which were easy.
One of the highlights was the presentation from the Hephzibah Ministries revisioning task force. The full announcement will be made at The Gathering but I can share that they are charting a course to engage every Wesleyan church in caring for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC).
Two of our Crossroads District leaders participated in the closing session that focused on discipleship. Rev. Jon Wiest shared the story of the D-groups at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis and Coach Jeff Clark (a lay member of our District Board of Administration) shared about the discipleship strategy that is shaping the culture of IWU’s championship basketball program.
Thursday’s highlights were coaching conversations with Pastor Doug Sharrard (Lancaster Wesleyan), Pastor Jeff Luedtke (Fairmount Wesleyan), and Pastor Ryan Budde (Westview Wesleyan). Our office team also hosted Jake Lapp and Matthew Ray from the General Treasurer’s Office to map out our implementation plan for shared services. We’ll begin working with them for payroll services in January and are moving toward utilizing them as our accounting team beginning in the 2019-2020 conference year.
The highlight of Friday was co-hosting our Retired Pastors & Spouses Thanksgiving Fellowship at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. Rev. Duane Seitz gave an inspiring devotional from his study of Bible prophecy. Seth Bye did a wonderful job of handling the logistics and Big Dog BBQ provided a delicious meal for our team. The singing and prayer times are always a blessing with this dedicated group of ministers.
I met with Pastor Allen Gross (Cicero United Wesleyan) later on Friday afternoon for our coaching conversation and was encouraged to hear the progress that Allen is seeing.
Saturday morning, I hosted a small group of bivocational pastors at The Branch in Fairmount to discuss the joys and struggles for ministers who serve full or part-time in the marketplace. We’ll be having a follow-up meeting after the Gathering to explore the ways our district can better serve and support the large number of our leaders who serve as bivocational pastors. Special thanks to The Branch for their hospitality!
My final meeting on Saturday was with a terrific group of leaders from Venezuela who have reached out to us for partnership in the planting and establishing of a new Hispanic church in Goshen. Pastor Franz Gonzalez leads this team and connected with us through Pastor Eliorgy Guerrero who leads our Hispanic Wesleyan church in Elkhart. We had a wonderful conversation about the vision, mission and beliefs of The Wesleyan Church.
Dr. Norman Wilson met with this congregation earlier in the fall. Now they are preparing a letter to our DBA requesting adoption as our newest church. Pending DBA approval, I’ve been invited to preach Iglesia Vida y Esperanza in Goshen on December 30 to welcome their charter members into our fellowship and install the leadership team.
May God bless you and your loved ones as you take time this week to thank our Father for His faithfulness and His many mercies.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, and I were privileged to invest this past weekend in StratOp planning and training with Pastor Tim McClellan and a team of 14 leaders at Lakeview Wesleyan Church. The initial phase of StratOp is a 3-day retreat that builds on the lessons of the past, brings clarity to the realities of the present, and develops a strategic operating (StratOp) plan within the church’s vision to create momentum around key action initiatives that the team prioritizes.
We appreciate the invitation from Pastor McClellan and the team to serve them in this process. It was also a joy to preach in the morning service. Lakeview Ministries (with the powerful combination of the church, Christian counseling center and Christian school) has unique positioning for significant Kingdom impact in Grant County and around the world. Pray that God will bless their intentionality to move forward with ever increasing effectiveness in the Great Commission ministry!
We are excited to welcome Rev. Andrew and Elicia Cole back to our Crossroads District team as they’ve accepted the call to lead Daybreak Community Church in Lapel! Pastor Andy has more recently been serving in Alabama and is a certified trainer with Dynamic Church Planting International. Special thanks for Rev. Dr. Joe Harmon for a great job serving the Daybreak congregation during this transitional season. (Dr. Harmon will have a little more time for golf now but he wanted to make sure that I let you know he’s available for weekend revivals and pulpit supply.) Attendance doubled on Pastor Andy’s first Sunday, November 4, and they are expecting great things ahead for Daybreak!
Monday is usually a catch-up day after the weekend but I was delighted to meet with Dr. Aron Willis on Monday morning. He is a wise mentor and trusted friend so these opportunities, more limited since his move to North Carolina, are always valued.
On a personal note, Dad (Dr. Ken Gorveatte) and Merle Stevens Gorveatte, his new bride, stopped in on Monday enroute to Brooksville, Florida. It’s always a blessing to have them in our home but they didn’t stay long with colder temperatures forecasted here and Florida’s sunshine calling!
Our Crossroads District team marked three passings this week with retired minister Rev. Jimmy Robbins’ funeral on Saturday, Pastor Chuck Moorer’s son’s funeral on Wednesday, and faithful lay leader Mr. Jack Bickel’s funeral on Tuesday.
I was honored to be able to represent our team on Tuesday at Jack’s funeral and extended our sympathies to Rev. Dan Bickel, DS of Wisconsin District, and his family who gathered in Muncie for Jack’s funeral. Rev. Michael Hewitt, pastor of Rising Hope Church, officiated and brought a message of hope and comfort from God’s Word.
Tuesday afternoon, I was back in Marion to meet with a prospective church planter and took advantage of the opportunity to cheer on the IWU Wildcats Men’s Basketball team. Assistant Coach Jeff Clark is a member of the Crossroads District Board of Administration so I was glad to be there to cheer him on. And, yes, the Wildcats won!
On Wednesday, morning I connected with Assistant DS Chris Williams in Marion before heading to Indianapolis to attend Chadwin Moorer’s funeral. Rev. Chuck and Crystal Moorer, Chad’s parents, are valued members of our pastoral team as they lead Divine Direction Church on 46th Street. There was a strong representation from our Region 2 pastors led by Rev. Mike Colaw, Assistant DS. Indiana Wesleyan University was well represented with faculty, staff and Chad’s friends, led by Rev. Dr. John Bray, Chaplain.
After the funeral, I met with Rev. John & Danielle Freed, pastors at Waterline Church in Fishers, who play a key role in our district’s multiplication initiatives. They have been effectively leading our bootcamp for church planters and we are working on next steps to increase the capacity of our church multiplication systems.
I met with Rev. Jarod Osborne, pastor of Warsaw Pathway Church, in Fort Wayne on Thursday as he and his team prayerfully consider their next steps in ministering to the growing Hispanic community in the Warsaw area. From Fort Wayne to Kokomo that afternoon to meet with Rev. Alan Downing, pastor of Frankfort’s Connecting Point Church, for our annual coaching conversation. My final stop of the day was a quick check-in with Rev. Matthew Trexler, Region 1 Assistant DS and pastor at The River.
StratOp was the highlight of the weekend. We started at 6 p.m. on Friday evening and wrapped up that first session just before 9. We were back at 9 a.m. on Saturday and worked together until just before 6. Then, immediately after the worship service on Sunday, we worked through the process and wrapped up before our 6 p.m. deadline. Special thanks goes to the members of the Lakeview team who worked together so well and stayed fully engaged through a long weekend!
(Please connect with one of our team members if you would like to explore using these StratOp resources for your ministry’s next planning retreat.)
Thank you to each of our churches, including Lakeview Wesleyan Church, who took time in their services yesterday to thank our veterans for their sacrificial service in the cause of freedom. May we never forget.
Your prayers are appreciated as the General Board of The Wesleyan Church meets this week in Indianapolis. God’s wisdom is always needed but never more than in these days of challenge and opportunity for the church.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, I dropped in for worship at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion in preparation for the StratOp consultation our team will be providing this coming weekend. It was great to connect with Rev. Tim McClellan and his team. Pastor Tim brought an encouraging message from Philippians 4 on overcoming anxiety. We look forward to serving Pastor Tim and the Lakeview team this weekend.
Sunday evening, I joined with Rev. Dr. Richard Schenck and the leadership team of the congregations in a new network that launched tonight as Circle of Hope. The network includes the congregation of Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan, Noblesville Gloria el Rey, Beech Grove Wesleyan, Anderson Central Wesleyan, and a new ministry being launched as Circle of Hope at the Indy North campus of IWU. This network also is partnering with Pastor Joshe Bose for a new campus in Dhaka that met today with 20 in attendance.
The network shares a common vision and leadership resources. They will also provide administrative, marketing and financial services at a central location for the congregations. The first step in building this network was when Noblesville Lakeview adopted Beech Grove. At the time, Beech Grove was running in the 20s. This morning, Beech Grove had 42 in attendance. Since then, Anderson Central voted to join the network. Dhaka campus just started meeting this fall and the Indy North IWU campus congregation will begin meeting in January. The combined attendance at their campuses this weekend was 282.
The week began with a quick trip to Maryland to visit with the team for the New Life Network based in LaPlata and led by Pastor Mike Hilson. This is an amazing group of young leaders advancing the Kingdom in the bedroom communities surrounding Washington, DC. I spent Monday with Robert Hilson, network development leader, visiting sites and connecting with campus pastors. On Tuesday, I led the staff devotional for the LaPlata campus and sat in on a variety of staff meetings. I met with Robert Hilson on Wednesday morning for debriefing before flying home in the afternoon.
I was glad to reconnect with Pastor Jordan DeMerchant, one of our own Crossroads team members, who now serves as a New Life campus leader in Alexandria. We’re excited to announce that Pastor Mike and Tina Hilson have agreed to join us for ReEquip, our district-wide training day, on April 6.
Thursday morning, I joined with Assistant DS Chris Williams and our pastors in Region 3 for our fall meeting hosted by Rev. Ollie Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. Chris brought a great leadership lesson on finishing well in ministry. It was good to hear how God is at work in this region and to welcome Rev. Matt Ohime, Davis Wesleyan Church, as the newest member of the team.
Several of our Grant County pastors joined me for a supper meeting on Thursday evening with one of our Global Partners medical missionaries who serves effectively in restricted access fields in Asia. It was encouraging and challenging to hear how God is at work in the most challenging of circumstances. Thank you to our pastors and churches that prioritize financial and prayer support for our Global Partners missionaries.
Friday, I met with Pastor Ben Capshaw for our annual coaching conversation. It was inspiring to hear how God is blessing at Elwood Central Wesleyan Church under Pastor Ben’s leadership. They thrived in spite of being forced out of their worship facility due to a structural issue that required replacing the entire roof. They even grew while meeting in their fellowship hall. The church has more than doubled in size in the past 3 years and they have recorded 31 professions of faith so far this year.
Saturday morning, I attended the fall meeting of the Fairmount Camp Board of Directors under the leadership of David Tippey, chair. Angela Spangler, Executive Director of Fairmount Camp, reported on another successful summer of camping ministry and expanding rental opportunities.
The Fairmount Camp Board is blessed with a wonderful group of committed and generous volunteers. You’ll be hearing more from this team as they move forward with enhanced marketing and fundraising initiatives.
Our prayers and sympathies are extended to Rev. and Mrs. Charles Moorer on the passing of Chadwin Timothy Moorer (age 23), their son and a beloved student at Indiana Wesleyan University where he had served as chaplain in Kem Hall. The funeral will take place at Divine Direction Christian Church in Indianapolis on Wednesday, November 7.
We also extend our prayers and sympathies to Mrs. Ruth Bickel and the family of Mr. Jack Bickel, long-time lay leader of The Wesleyan Church in Muncie, who passed away on Thursday evening at the age of 89. Jack was a leading proponent of helping to launch Rising Hope Church. Jack was also father to Rev. Dan Bickel, a former pastor in our district and who now serves as the Wisconsin District Superintendent. His funeral will be held on Tuesday, November 6, at Union Chapel Ministries.
Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Jim Dunn and his new bride, Wendy Agner Dunn, on their wedding this past Friday evening. Dr. Dunn, a member of our district family, serves at the Wesleyan Investment Foundation as Vice President of Church Relations.
I’m looking forward to coaching conversations this week and preparing for the StratOp consultation this weekend at Marion Lakeview. Your prayers are always appreciated.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, October 28, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Rich and Cynthia VanVuren at Shiloh Wesleyan Church. Shiloh is a vibrant, multi-generational church on a country crossroad in the middle of cornfields near Plymouth.
But don’t let anyone tell you that rural churches can’t thrive. Pastor Rich challenges the church to impact their neighbors and to have a heart for the world. They averaged 147 in worship last year with 10 professions of faith and 12 baptisms. November is their month for global missions emphasis and Rev. Luis Martinez will be their keynote speaker. Assistant Pastor Levi Lehman leads the growing youth ministry and they also have an exciting children’s ministry. After the service, I enjoyed connecting with the members of the Local Board of Administration.
Last Monday, I joined several of our district pastors to support Rev. Ron Herring at the funeral of his beloved wife and ministry partner, Mrs. Sarah Herring. Rev. Tim McClellan, Marion Lakeview Church, conducted the service and brought an encouraging message of hope. Please keep Pastor Ron in your prayers.
Tuesday morning, I met with our staff at Abbey Coffee before heading to Carmel for an afternoon coaching conversation with Pastor Darrell Herring, pastor of our Indianapolis Central Wesleyan Church. The last meeting of the day was with Rev. Jonathan Lewis, DS of North Carolina East, (via ZOOM) who had some questions about the Heartland pilot project that we are part of with Indiana South, Greater Ohio, and Kentucky-Tennessee.
Wednesday was invested in coaching conversations with Rev. Paul VanCise (Bryant Wesleyan), Rev. Clifton Ashlock (Anderson United Wesleyan), and Pastor Benjamin Tlungloei (Shalom Church – Burmese in Indianapolis). These coaching conversations are helpful to keep me connected with the joys and challenges our pastors encounter in the wide variety of contexts that make up our district family.
I participated in two different ZOOM meetings with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, on Thursday before joining Pastor Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS, for lunch and a walkthrough of their recently completed facility. This is an exciting development for River Church and the good news is that it was completed on budget and ahead of schedule.
My last meeting on Thursday was a coaching conversation with Pastor Randy Yaryan (Winchester Wesleyan) over supper in Muncie. Pastor Randy was on his way to conduct the funeral for a relative in Pennsylvania who received Christ as a result of Randy’s sermon at family funeral this past year. Never miss an opportunity to share the Gospel!
Friday morning, Dr. Wright was preaching at IWU’s chapel service and presented the theme for this year “Christ’s Ambassadors” from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. He challenged the students with the vision that IWU could become an embassy of God’s Kingdom, or “a little bit of Heaven dropped into the cornfields of Indiana.” He reminded students that an embassy of the Kingdom is a place of transformation (2 Cor. 5:17), a place of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19) and a place of delegation (2 Cor. 5:20) “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…” Please keep Dr. Wright, our faculty, staff and students in your prayers as they live this out!
Friday evening, Sherry and I were delighted to host our first Thornapple fellowship for youth pastors. DYP Lane Sander helped coordinate this gathering and we’ll be having more opportunities to connect in the spring as we take time to express our appreciation for these leaders who invest deeply in the next generation. Friday night was also a happening time for our students in Fort Wayne and Richmond. Pastor Andy Jellison and his team at Fort Wayne Lifeway Church hosted several area youth groups for their annual FallNighter and Pastor Jacob Gibson welcomed Rev. Zach Coffin for Ignition2018!
I’m at New Life Network in La Plata, Maryland for meetings through Wednesday afternoon but will be back in time for our Region 3 Fall Gathering in Plymouth on Thursday morning and our Indy Zone Fellowship at Thornapple on Friday evening.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,