Sunday, October 2, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Bill and Susan Thompson and the congregation at Lone Oak Wesleyan Church just outside Anderson. This was homecoming Sunday and featured musical guests Sacred Calling. We celebrated World Communion Sunday and then joined the church family for their homecoming luncheon.
Pastor Bill leads our Madison County Zone and is also chair of the Anderson Christian Clergy Association. I was encouraged to hear his report of the Reconciliation March held on Saturday that was jointly organized by the predominantly white Christian Clergy Association of Anderson and the primarily African American Concerned Ministers of Anderson. The idea for the march came about when the Rev. Anthony Harris with the Church Upon the Rock had a dream of a march to bring the entire community together.
Pastor Bill Thompson reported that more than 30 pastors led this march bringing together black and white congregations to walk together across the 8th Street bridge then they gathered for prayer in Athletic Park. Approximately 150 people were part of this demonstration of unity. They are already planning to expand participation in next year’s event. Thank you, Pastor Bill, for stepping up to lead in this way!
Today was also a special time at The River Church in Marion as they celebrated their 9th birthday. Congratulations to Pastor Matthew Trexler and the team who stepped out in faith 9 years ago. God has blessed the church in remarkable ways as hundreds of lives have impacted for eternity. Thank you, Pastor Matthew and Nicole for leading with vision and courage!
Last week was an exciting time of connecting with our Crossroads District team. Many of you will know that we’ve organized the new district into 3 regions. Region 1 is comprised of the churches in the northeast centered around Fort Wayne. Region 2 is comprised of the churches centered around greater Indianapolis area. Region 3 includes the churches on the west side of our district from Lafayette to the south suburbs of Chicago. Last week, Region 2 met on Monday at Indianapolis Trinity, Region 1 met on Wednesday at Fort Wayne Three Rivers, and Region 3 met on Thursday at Plymouth Wesleyan. It was so encouraging to hear the praise reports at each gathering and to see our pastors close the meeting in prayer groups.
There was a very strong turnout across the district with 120 pastors and ministerial staff joining in for these roundtables on the ministry strategy of our new district. We talked about leadership development (especially DBMD) and the role each pastor plays in raising up the next generation of disciple-makers. We are challenging each pastor to preach at least once this year on the call and to share their own testimony of being called to ministry.
We talked about the strength of the district in partnering together to plant churches. It was a joy to hear first-hand reports in Region 2 from Rev. Jordan Gardner, pastor/planter at Westfield Paradox Church, and in Region 3 from Rev. Marc Ulrich, pastor/planter of Rethink Church in Merrillville. Every church is being challenged to prayerfully consider the steps they will take to plant or partner in planting a new church in the next 5 years. If every church we plant also plants, we will be well on our way to achieving our vision of 100 new multiplying Kingdom communities by 2026.
The third focal point for our district is church revitalization. We want to see every church reaching its maximum potential for Kingdom impact. One of the ways we do that is through Maximizing Impact weekend consultations and follow-up coaching. The team has already worked with Anderson Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church and will be serving Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church and Westview Wesleyan Church before Christmas. If you’d like your church to benefit from this experience, please contact our office. The mission of every church is to make more and better disciples. Together, we can baptize 10,000 new disciples by 2026.
This conference year, each region will hold a fall and a spring meeting. In the interim, the pastors are gathering in zones for a Christmas fellowship and then again in the spring to prioritize church planting projects. I’m grateful to Assistant District Superintendents, Rev. Jason Tash (Region 1), Rev. Mike Colaw (Region 2), and Rev. Chris Williams (Region 3), for the leadership they are bringing to these partnerships. I also want to say thanks to Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Wesleyan), Rev. Mike Colaw (Indianapolis Trinity) and Dr. Ollie Dongell (Plymouth Wesleyan) for their generosity in hosting these regional gatherings last week.
On Tuesday, I was blessed so sit in on the Region 1 DBMD interviews led by Dr. Jim Lo, the Region 1 chair. In our new organization, ministerial students are recommended by zones to their regional DBMD. licensed ministers are recommended to the district-wide DBMD by the regional DBMD, and ordination candidates are recommended to the District Conference by the district DBMD. This alignment is designed to ensure that the role of DBMD is development, not just gate-keeping.
On Thursday evening, I met with the LBA at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church as they made interim plans for the church while Pastor Paul Trent is undergoing treatment. Mr. Doug Shuck is the vice-chair and the LBA is responding well to the increased responsibility. Pastor Paul Trent and I talked by phone and he once again expressed his deep appreciation for the Crossroads District team and their prayer support.
Friday, I joined Dr. David Smith, chair of the DBMD, along with 9 representatives (3 from each Regional DBMD) to interview licensed ministers moving toward ordination. Dr. Smith brings the mind of an scholar and the heart of a pastor to this important work. We met with outstanding candidates and it was a joy to hear how God is calling and preparing workers for His harvest field. We anticipate as many as 16 ordination candidates will be ready to recommend to the district conference on June 23, 2017.
On Saturday, Sherry and I and two of our children attended the funeral of Mrs. Charlotte Ann Eckart, mother of Pastor Dan Eckart (Indianapolis Warren Park Wesleyan) and Rev. Jeff Eckart, founder of NTS (Never The Same youth camps) and Claim Your Campus (a national student-led prayer movement). I served on Jeff’s board as these ministries were launching and he was the youth pastor for our children while we were members at Kentwood Community Church. This was a celebration of life service for a woman of God who served faithfully alongside her husband, Rev. Creston Eckart, in ministry at the Antioch Pilgrim Holiness Church in Bass Lake, IN, and then for 34 years together at Warren Park Wesleyan. She continued serving at Warren Park after her husband’s death playing the piano there for a total of 57 years. The last song she played on the piano was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Our sympathies and prayers are extended to the Eckart family. Special thanks to Pastor George Martin for hosting the service at The Sanctuary Church (formerly Eastlawn Wesleyan) and to Rev. Ernest Batman (retired District Superintendent) for bringing words of remembrance and prayer.
There’s still time to register for this year’s ReEquip Conference coming up next Monday and Tuesday, October 10-11, in Fort Wayne. Join us for these nationally-recognized speakers at an affordable learning experience in your own backyard. Thank you to Pastor David Dignal for his leadership in organizing this event.
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent