Sunday morning, May 13, I had the privilege of bringing greetings from our district, leading in congregational prayer, and worshiping with Pastor Aaron and Jennifer Lee and the congregation of LaOtto Wesleyan Church. Founded in 1850, LaOtto Wesleyan has a wonderful multi-generational ministry serving their four-county region.
This coming weekend, the congregation is voting on a new name “Cultivate Church” to mark this new season of ministry. The church has seen many changes over the years but the message and the mission stays the same. Almost 170 years old and going strong!
I was able to make it over to Albion Wesleyan Church just as Rev. Mark Schnell was wrapping up their worship service. The pastoral search continues there and I was able to connect with Brian Frick, their LBA vice chair to discuss next steps in their process. Rev. Schnell had been an incredible blessing to the team serving in this interim ministry.
From Albion to Elkhart in time to join Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero and the growing congregation at Iglesia Cielos Abiertos. Mutual ministry friends introduced us several months ago and it is a joy to witness the progress of this ministry. Yesterday, more than 30 people gathered in their home for worship.
Most of the congregation are refugees from the political unrest in Venezuela, but there are also new immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. Rev. Guerrero and a team of leaders, including other potential church planters, will be joining us at District Conference, June 23, in Marion and I know you’ll enjoy meeting them and hearing their passion for advancing the Kingdom!
Yesterday was the second preview event for Rising Hope Church in Muncie as they prepare to launch this fall. Pastor Michael and Kim Hewitt led the launch team in a creative experience at Muncie’s Northside Middle School for mothers and that families that saw several first-time connections from the community.
Pastor Michael described it as “one of the best Mother’s Day services I have ever been a part of in ministry... decisions for Christ, tears in service–we did a really powerful drama. After the service, people hung out way too long. Way past our rental time. People didn’t want to leave.” Pray for Pastor Hewitt and the team as they follow up on these new connections and make disciples in Muncie’s newest church. (www.risinghopechurch.com)
Last week was a great opportunity for learning and fellowship as Wesleyan district superintendents gathered for their annual roundtable. This year’s gathering was graciously hosted by Rev. Buddy and Joan Rampey in Charleston, South Carolina.
One of the highlights was connecting with Pastor Wayne and Amy Otto who are leading the church multiplication team in South Carolina District. We heard presentations from four new church planting leaders, two of whom were just launched out this year as Wayne and Amy sent 60 of their best team members from Providence Wesleyan Church to seed these new congregations.
In addition to discussions about regional partnerships and an update on the USF Study Committee’s work, we were privileged to welcome Greg Surratt, founding pastor of Seacoast Community Church (a multi-campus ministry of 17,000 plus attending one of 14 campuses) who also leads ARC (Association of Related Churches).
ARC has now planted 800 churches, 120 in the last 12 months, including partnerships with Wesleyan, Vineyard and Free Methodist projects. Greg was generous with his time and shared insights like this:
I arrived home Wednesday evening and enjoyed taking the next few days off catching up on reading and yard work while minimizing phone calls and e-mail.
This promises to be a full week with College Wesleyan Church hosting their Festival on Discipleship beginning Monday evening and through the day Tuesday. There’s still room to slip in on these terrific sessions featuring Dr. Steve DeNeff, Dr. David Drury, Rev. Jon Wiest, Rev. Matt LeRoy and Dr. Jason Runyon. https://www.collegewes.com/festival/
Thursday, our District Board of Administration meets for our last full session wrapping up the 2017-2018 conference year. It’s a joy to work with the dedicated team of lay leaders and pastors who represent our district and guide our mission so well.
Another highlight this week will be hosting pastors and spouses from the Lafayette Zone at our place on Friday evening for the DS-Zone Fellowship. Sherry and I always enjoy the blessing of these evenings spent in sharing and prayer with our co-laborers.
Please remember that this Pentecost Sunday, May 20, is also the day that Wesleyans across North America receive a special offering for church multiplication. This is not an offering you send into the denominational office, but an offering your church takes to invest in church multiplication opportunities that God places on the heart of your leadership team. For more information and video links, visit this helpful website: https://www.wesleyan.org/event/cms
Thank you for all who joined in prayer for Pastor Matthew Trexler. He and Nicole returned home safely on Friday but Matthew continues to be treated in what looks to be a long recovery. I spent time with Matthew this morning and he testifies to the power of answered prayer. His condition was far more serious than many may have realized and he would be grateful for your continued prayers for a full and speedy recovery.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,