Sherry and I worshiped at Larwill Wesleyan Church yesterday morning with Pastor Thomas and Julie Beck. This community church is located just off Hwy 30 between Warsaw and Columbia City. Attendance averages in the 20s and at least half of the congregation are children and teens. Julie and Alyssa, their daughter, led the singing while Nicholas, their son, ran the sound system.
Thomas is one of our denomination’s many bi-vocational pastors who works a full time job in a manufacturing facility doing quality control before taking on sermon preparation and pastoral care. Thomas started at Larwill Wesleyan by just filling in as a supply pastor. Seventeen years later he continues to serve this congregation and community. Bi-vocational pastors like Thomas are unsung heroes who faithfully minister out of the spotlight and keep making a difference for eternity. (The sanctuary, built in 1869, is one of our older buildings still in use.)
After hosting Tom and Julie for lunch, Sherry and I drove to Muncie to drop in on the first launch team development meeting hosted by Pastor Mike and Kim Hewitt. It was good to see some familiar faces from the Northview congregation and some new friends from the community and Ball State University who were interested in learning more about the project. Please let Pastor Mike know ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) if you have contacts in the community that might be open to joining in this launch team. Do remember Mike in your prayers as he undergoes a scheduled surgery this Thursday.
I arrived home from Dad’s wedding on Tuesday night and was back at our HQ office in Fishers on Wednesday morning to meet with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent and then met with Pastor Jorge Escalante for an update on his work with immigrant services. Wednesday evening, I was at the Grant City Wesleyan Church for their midweek Bible study followed by a meeting with the LBA. It was good to serve Pastor Dan Heylmann and his team as they implement the new discipleship/membership model.
Our staff hosted the district conference planning team on Thursday at the new office in Marion for a debrief and preplanning for next year’s event. Chris Williams does a great job leading this team. Thank you to each one who provided helpful feedback that will helps us make our district gatherings to be as productive and inspirational as possible.
Friday morning, I met with Dr. David Smith who chairs our District Board of Ministerial Development. David is one of those truly unique educators who has both a scholar’s mind and a pastor’s heart. I’m grateful for the profound investment that Dr. Smith makes in shaping future leaders for the church.
Friday evening, Sherry and I joined Rev. Bob and Cindy Burchell at Lake Placid Camp (near Hartford City) for the annual retreat they host for the chaplains who serve students in IWU’s adult and professional studies degree programs, both online and at the extended campus sites. Chaplains gathered from across Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky for this event. It was a privilege to bring the evening message and lead them in communion.
Saturday morning, I joined Pastor John Freed with the leadership team at Waterline Church meeting for a planning retreat in Fishers. Waterline is our home church and Sherry volunteers as their treasurer. John and Danielle Freed are doing a terrific job in leading the charge at Waterline and these are exciting days as God is opening new doors for ministry partnership in their community.
Saturday afternoon, I met with the LBA at Lapel Daybreak Community Church as they move forward in their search to find someone to fill the big shoes of Rev. Richard Cole, their founding pastor. Richard and Debbie are moving toward retirement after 20 years invested in launching Daybreak. The LBA has several resumes to consider and is prayerfully moving forward.
On the pastoral search front, I received the good word from Columbia City New Hope Wesleyan Church that the congregation approved the recommendation of the LBA to call Rev. Shane Wilson as their new senior pastor. Shane served effectively as part of the pastoral staff under Rev. Jason Tash and the congregation’s overwhelming vote was a strong affirmation of Rev. Wilson’s calling to this leadership role. Join us in welcoming Shane and praying for this family as they lead the ministry at New Hope.
I’m continuing to work with the LBA and search team at Level 13 in Fort Wayne and will meet this coming Thursday evening with the LBA at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church as they move forward in their pastoral search.
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to Pastor Joe Park on the death of his father, Joseph Park, who passed away on August 24. For many years before his retirement in 1996, Mr. Park worked as a printer for Wesley Press. Visitation will be at Evergreen Wesleyan Church in Lafayette on Tuesday evening from 5 to 8, and for one hour before the funeral there at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
We challenged our pastors to schedule one more baptism service this year than last year. I was delighted to receive the following report from Pastor Steve Runyon:
“I planned a baptism liked you challenged us to do last fall (or winter). When I told you about it, you asked me to send some pictures when we had the baptism. Please find attached pictures of the 5 we baptized on Saturday. The Lord blessed us with a fantastic day for a baptism and church picnic. There were over 50 people who attended. We were all blessed.”
Just to better understand the context, Beaver Creek Wesleyan had only baptized 5 new believers in the last 10 years and none in the past 2 years. Praise God for changed lives!
The Madison County Zone senior pastors will be meeting at our home on September 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. Before the conference year is over, Sherry and I look forward to welcoming the senior pastors from every zone for a time of food, fellowship, and encouragement. Your zone chair will have the dates and we’d love to have you join us!
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent