Sherry and I had the privilege of joining Pastor Tom and Kara Parsons for morning worship at Hartford City Wesleyan Church on Sunday, October 7. It was a joy for me to be able to bring the message from God’s Word in this special service with Pastor Tom dedicating 4 children and baptizing 8 new believers. The congregation celebrated these steps of spiritual progress while also enjoying the comfortable new chairs that were installed just this week. After the morning service, I met with the LBA and then we hosted the Parsons family for lunch. It is encouraging to see another multi-generational, Gospel-preaching Wesleyan church thriving in small-town America!
On Monday, Wesley Seminary President Dr. Colleen Derr welcomed the Board of Advisors for our fall meeting. This fall semester marks the beginning of the 10th year for Wesley Seminary. It’s been a remarkable story from the dream stage with President Henry Smith, Dr. Ken Schenck, Dr. Keith Drury, Rev. Russ Gunsalus, and others brainstorming about a new kind of seminary that would serve the changing needs of the local church.
President Wright and the Board shared a supper with seminary faculty on Monday evening and together celebrated Rev. Stan Hoover’s service as he announced that this would be his final year as board chair. Rev. Hoover has effectively served alongside the leadership of seminary from the beginning days with Dr. Wayne Schmidt to the transition to Dr. Derr’s leadership this past year. Pray for Dr. Derr and the administration of Wesley Seminary as they chart the exciting course for this next decade of vital ministry.
Pastor Mike Colaw, Pastor Jon Wiest, and the team at Trinity Wesleyan Church hosted their first Disciple Making Conference Monday and Tuesday with more than 200 leaders from dozens of churches across several states gathering to glean insights from the disciple-making movement that God has been blessing at Trinity.
Guest speakers included Rev. George Martin, Dr. Ed Love and Dr. Wayne Schmidt joining with Jon and Mike in making the case for “disciples making disciples” as the fundamental mission of the church. If you haven’t picked up Jon Wiest’s new book (Banding Together) that tells the story, you can find it here: Banding Together listing on Amazon
I was able to jump in on the Tuesday morning session and then join with Pastor Mike Colaw as he hosted the Region 2 Pastors for a lunch meeting. We welcomed new team members to the region including Pastor Eric George (New Castle Memorial), Pastor Steve Binn (Anderson Lone Oak) and Pastor Scott McDermid (Sheridan Six Points). I’m always encouraged to hear praise reports from across our churches and there’s nothing better than seeing our pastors join in prayer for harvest opportunities in greater Indianapolis.
I was back in the office on Wednesday morning catching up on correspondence and phone calls. I met with one of our ministerial students over lunch at IWU and then enjoyed learning from Dr. Lo in his class on Evangelism and Discipleship. Rev. Russ Gunsalus and the HQ team from the Education and Clergy Development met with Dr. Smith and several members of our DBMD on Wednesday afternoon to preview the new online, competency-based ministerial preparation process that they’ve been developing. While this new process will not impact licensed ministers who are approaching ordination, it will be a significant move forward for the next generation of ministry leadership development and credentialing in The Wesleyan Church.
Thursday and Friday, I was honored to represent the Crossroads District at the IWU Board of Trustees meeting. President David Wright and his team do an exceptional job of navigating the challenging currents of Christian higher education in a society that is increasingly hostile to our Biblical values. It was inspiring to hear the reports of spiritual growth from across the campus and we enjoyed being part of the exciting 2018 Homecoming celebrations including an inspiring concert with Lauren Daigle. Congratulations to the IWU Wildcats on their first Homecoming football game.
Your prayers are always appreciated for Dr. Wright and his team as they work together to develop a truly great Christian university serving Christ and The Wesleyan Church.
Saturday morning, I dropped in on the Fairmount Camp Married Couples Retreat to thank the volunteers and staff who worked hard to pull this event together after severe September weather forced a rescheduling. Fairmount Camp’s Executive Director Angela Spangler always does a great job hosting groups. Pastor Mike and Leslie Colaw were outstanding as the keynote speakers for this year’s retreat.
This week, I’ll be meeting with pastors for coaching conversations and joining Pastor Matthew Trexler on Wednesday morning for the Region 1 Pastors Meeting at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. Then, Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck, Rev. David and Rev. Emily Hines, and I will be heading to Bangladesh for the week to continue our leadership development partnership with Rev. Joshe Bose and his team. I’ll have the privilege of teaching pastors from the insights captured in “Lead Like Wesley.” We’ll be returning on October 18 and would be grateful to be remembered in your prayers.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, September 30, I enjoyed worshiping with Pastor Dave & Carol Leitzel and the folks at Hamilton Wesleyan Church. I brought greetings from our team, met with the LBA after the service, and hosted the Leitzels for lunch. It was encouraging to see the full house and to sense the energy of 30 children worshiping in this intergenerational church. Pastor Leitzel is preaching through a series of what it means to follow Jesus on Sundays and leading a Bible study prompted by Dr. Jim Garlow’s book, Well-Versed.
Sunday evening, Sherry joined me as I traveled to New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church to install their new pastor, Rev. Eric George. I shared the message for the evening and the liturgy of installation. The service closed with a circle of leaders gathering around Pastor Eric & Diana George. Rev. George most recently served in the Greater Ohio District. Originally from New York, Pastor Eric holds degrees from Houghton College and Indiana Wesleyan University. Memorial Wesleyan has a wonderful facility, a strategic location in their community and a committed core of lay leaders. We’re joining them in praying for a bright future of Kingdom impact.
The highlight of last Monday was connecting with Dr. Richard and Rev. Carol Schenck. They are leading an innovative network of churches based out of what was Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan Church. Their new network of ministries will be called Circle of Hope Wesleyan Church. The network includes the Noblesville campus, a campus in Beech Grove, the Bethel ministry in the core city of Indianapolis, and the former Central Wesleyan Church in Anderson, The network is combining staff and core services (website, communication, finance, administration, teaching team) to better reach these communities for Christ.
I was at Memorial Wesleyan in New Castle on Tuesday morning for the funeral of Rev. James Judd, one of our retired ministers. Rev. Ernest Batman, retired DS, and Rev. Paul Kirk, former pastor at Memorial, shared scriptures and memories of this faithful servant. Rev. Judd never pastored a large church but he was faithful in preaching the Word and leading people to Christ in every appointment. Our prayers and sympathy are extended to his family. Tuesday afternoon, I had two meetings back in Marion with ministerial students. It was interesting to connect with these leaders in the beginning chapters of their ministry on the same day we celebrated Rev. Judd’s homegoing. May God continue to send laborers into His harvest field.
Wednesday over Friday, I was in Pittsburgh for training in the life planning process developed by Leadership League. One of the commitments our District Board made last year was to develop capacity to offer life planning retreats for younger, mid-stage, and convergence seasons of their ministry. We believe that everyone in the church benefits when the leader is more effective. You’ll be hearing more about this development at District Conference 2019.
Saturday afternoon, I met with Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero and Rev. Frank Gonzalez in Warsaw to take next steps in building a network of Hispanic church leaders with a vision for church planting in the northern tier of Indiana. Both of these effective leaders immigrated to America from Venezuela and bring strong-track records of church planting experience to our team. I’m also grateful to Dr. Norman Wilson and Pastor Jarod Osborne (Warsaw Pathway) for their generosity in developing this partnership.
I’m looking forward to all that this coming week holds with board meetings at Wesley Seminary (October 1-2) and Indiana Wesleyan University (October 4-5), but the highlight will be the Disciple Making Conference at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis: https://www.encountertrinity.com/DMC2018/ This event is sold out. Please pray for Pastor Mike Colaw and Pastor Jon Wiest as they invest in ministry leaders in our region.
Thank you for making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. As new privacy requirements take effect, Wesleyan Headquarters is proactively updating their email opt-in process so consent can be given freely from individuals. We are encouraging all leaders to subscribe to WesLife newsletter. Their mission is to resource district leaders with relevant content, valuable tools and insider information. If you are not already signed up to receive this valuable resource, please do so.
Sunday, September 23, Sherry and I were in Chesterton for an exciting new chapter as Expansion Church officially became part of the River Church Network. Pastor Tom & Sarah Cochran have resigned from their faithful service at Expansion Church to join Rev. Jason Tash on the staff of Destiny Rescue Mission. You can read more about their journey and learn how you can support them here: https://www.tomsarahcochran.com/
As the leadership team in Chesterton considered next steps, they remained committed to the original vision of the church when it was first planted by the Gearharts: to reach people far from Christ. Pastor Tom encouraged them to consider the option of becoming a campus church of a larger thriving ministry. Pastor Matthew Trexler and the leadership at River Church were approached and prayerfully considered the challenge, even while preparing to launch a campus near Huntington University next month.
The leadership team at Expansion (a developing church) voted to request that River Church adopt them as a campus, pending DBA approval. The River Church gave their approval last Monday evening, and the DBA approved the request at our meeting on Thursday. There are logistical questions yet to be navigated but there is exciting potential as the River Church works with the committed team in Chesterton to reach the 100k unchurched people in Porter County. Pray that God will grant wisdom and unity for all of those leading in this faith venture.
Last week began at the Branch, Fairmount Wesleyan’s coffee shop, as a cohort of Region 1 leaders met to discuss the book “Gaining by Losing” (J.D. Greear) and challenge each other to become multiplying churches. One of the most challenging quotes they shared that morning came from C.S. Lewis: “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you… Only real risks tests the reality of a belief.”
The group that day included David Dignal (Edgerton), Rob Tippey (Fairmount), Tony Bye (Brookhaven), Zack Working (Huntington Hope Rising), Matthew Stewart (Sweetser), Kaleb Wakeman and Matthew Trexler (The River). Each of these leaders is committed to working with their teams to map out a multiplication strategy to be adopted by their church and presented to the DBA. In another exciting note from that meeting, Pastor Dave Dignal also reported 5 baptisms at Edgerton just the day before!
The highlight of Tuesday was joining with Dr. Ken Schenck and other faculty members of the School of Theology and Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University to kick off a series of forums with ministry practitioners. Everyone acknowledges that the landscape of ministry is rapidly changing in our culture. These are opportunities for leaders from the field to come alongside the academics for a series of conversations about ministry practice in these changing times. I was encouraged by the strong attendance (103 students who might have been enticed by the promise of pizza) and the high level of engagement as evidenced by their questions. Next month’s speaker will be Rev. Chris Conrad, DS of the newly-merged Great Lakes District. I commend Dr. Schenck and the STM faculty for this positive initiative.
Wednesday was a prep day for our DBA meeting on Thursday. The DBA met at Trinity Wesleyan Church where Pastors Johnnie and Amanda Blair were our gracious hosts. Half of our District Board at-large membership is new this year so we took time to hear one another’s stories and to review the policy governance (Kaiser/Carver) model with which our DBA operates. In addition to approving the River/Expansion Church campus request and appointing ministerial staff requests, we approved a building loan for The Branch in Lafayette, approved the Waterline Church request to develop a campus in Pendleton, and had a helpful discussion on ways the district can assist with both church planting and campus development matching grants to help launch 100 new Kingdom communities. One of the most exciting steps we took was to approve “One MultiChurch Network” as a new church multiplication project to be led by Dr. David & Kathy Drury in Fishers. God is writing a wonderful story in their outreach to immigrants from majority Muslim countries.
Friday morning, I met with Pastor Jerry Alexander in Anderson for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Jerry has led the church in a turnaround from 30 in attendance to averaging 57 last year. Anderson Central voted last conference year to become part of the Noblesville Lakeview campus network. That ministry is expanding and will be rolling out “Circle of Hope Wesleyan Church” as the new name for each of their locations.
Friday evening, Sherry and I hosted three of our church planting couples for an evening of fellowship and encouragement. We were honored to welcome Rev. Mike & Kim Hewitt (Muncie Rising Hope), Pastor Travis & Rochelle Jenkins (Circle City Wesleyan), and Pastor Craig and Tiffany Thurmon (The Encounter — coming soon to Indy’s east side). We are blessed with such wonderful leaders who are stepping out in faith to plant these new Kingdom communities. Thank you for each one who is supporting these pioneers with your prayers!
Rising Hope Church in Muncie held their second Sunday of public worship yesterday with 90+ in attendance. They are excited to welcome a growing group of Ball State University students who are pitching in to help get this ministry off to a strong start.
Saturday morning, I was able to attend the funeral for Mrs. Ellen Soultz, Pastor Al Soultz’s mother, at the former Main Street Wesleyan Church, before dropping in the Region 1 DBMD meeting at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. Sherry and I drove to Chesterton on Saturday afternoon to be part of the River Church Expansion leadership connection hosted by Dr. Nathan & Michelle Hoover on Saturday evening.
We extend our sympathy and prayers to the family of Rev. James Judd, a retired ordained minister in the Crossroads District, who died September 19, 2018, at the age of 89. He pastored churches in Elwood, Frankton, Lapel, and Mechanicsburg in the Indiana Central (Crossroads) District. The funeral is Tuesday, September 25, at Memorial Wesleyan Church (2701 N Memorial Drive, New Castle) at 11 a.m., with Rev. Paul Kirk and Rev. Ernest Batman officiating. There will be an additional hour of visitation at the church preceding the funeral service.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. – Pastor John Miller, our church planter at Way City Church in Speedway, passed along this link for Indiana congregations who could use some extra help through a resource grant from the Lilly Foundation: https://centerforcongregations.org/faqs Way City Church just received a $6000 grant to help with marketing and children’s ministry curriculum!
Congratulations to Rev. Michael & Kim Hewitt and the team at Rising Hope Church in Muncie on their successful launch yesterday, Sunday, September 16. The team has prayed hard and worked hard for the past year to plant the seeds of this new Kingdom community. It was exciting to worship with them and to hear their vision for a life-changing church committed to multiplying disciples and planting at least one daughter church in their first five years.
In addition to a great crowd from the community, several special guests were part of the celebration including Dr. David Wright (President of IWU) who has a tremendous heart for church planting. Jon Wiest, Multiplication Pastor at Indianapolis Trinity, and Andy Riemersma, resident pastor at Trinity and Awaken Ministry leader, were in attendance. Danielle Freed (Fishers Waterline) brought church-planters in-residence from the Waterline network to help serve and take notes.
There is much to be done to see Rising Hope Church build a strong foundation for their long-term vision but this was a wonderful day of celebration. Thank you to every church in the Crossroads District that has played a part in this first chapter of the Rising Hope story. Continue to pray, support and encourage the Hewitt’s and their team.
It was a blessing to join with students at IWU last Monday as they hosted evangelist Nicole Reyes Smithee for their annual Summit. There was a wonderful spirit of worship in the service and a heartfelt response to Nicole’s challenging message on Jacob.
Tuesday morning, I joined with Pastor Mark Atkinson and his team to bring the devotional for their staff meeting at Eastview Wesleyan Church. Then I joined our office team for staff prayer time and our weekly connection in Marion. My final meeting of the day was a coaching conversation with Pastor Tomasa Granados (Indianapolis Monte de Sion) and Christopher, her son who assists her in the ministry, at our office in Fishers. It was good to hear of a recent convert through their ministry.
Wednesday morning, I was in Fishers with the Heartland Region district superintendents. We met with Kevin Batman, our General Treasurer, to consider the potential of a shared services contract with his office. After lunch, we were joined by members of the Heartland Region Multiplication Roundtable for a planning session.
Then, on Thursday, a group of 30+ pastors met at HQ for ELEVATE, a leadership development experience hosted by Ken Murphy. There were many great takeaways from Ken’s sessions including this one: "Whatever I have today in my organization, I have either created it or allowed. As the leader, I am responsible."
Friday, I was in Delphi to connect with Pastor Dan Fisher for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Dan also serves as Zone leader in Region 3 and is faithful in calling us to pray for revival.
On Saturday morning I was in Indianapolis to join Rev. Ervin Webster and the men of St. Stephen Wesleyan Church for their "Men’s Day" with guest speaker Rev. Fred Talley. There was a good turnout, a frank discussion time led by Rev. Talley and heartfelt worship led by Rev. Webster. Following the meeting, the ladies from the church blessed us with a wonderful meal.
Congratulations to Pastor Brad and Heidi LeRoy and the team at McCordsville Harvest Church. They hosted their 5th annual "Touch a Truck" on Saturday with another great turnout from first responders for this community connection. I was able to take a sneak peek at their remodeled worship center. It was also fun to connect with Dr. John Connor and Rev. Wayne Richards. I was admiring John’s 1948 John Deere tractor!
Pastor John and Danielle Freed lead the Waterline network with a vision to plant in dozens of rural communities. Pastor Joe and Dawn Deckard accepted the call to the first of these plants and last evening they met with potential launch team members in Pendleton. We have a building in Pendleton that they’ll be able to access next year but they found a great temporary space to meet downtown in the Studio 3 Music Academy.
One of the highlights of the coming week will be our Crossroads District Board of Administration meeting in Tipton on Thursday. Your prayers are needed and appreciated as we seek God’s wisdom to pursue the mission of reaching 3 million Hoosiers for Christ.
Just a reminder to our church planters and their spouses that they’re scheduled to join us for a fellowship supper at Gorveatte’s place on Friday evening. If you’ve not yet sent your RSVP, please connect with Seth Bye so we can plan accordingly.
Many in your church will be asking how they can respond to Hurricane Florence. World Hope is mobilizing relief efforts and you are encouraged to direct them to this website:
HURRICANE FLORENCE RELIEF
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. Thank you to those who joined us in prayer this week for Pastor Tom Cochran’s father and for Dr. Ed Hoover’s surgery. We’re grateful to God for His healing touch for these men.
Sunday, September 9, I had the privilege of bringing district greetings in the three Sunday services at the River Church. Pastor Matthew and Nicole Trexler stepped out in faith 11 years ago to plant this church focused on bringing Christ to the unreached in Marion. At the time, most experts told them that Marion didn’t need another church, but Pastor Matthew grew up in Marion and knew there were thousands of people in need. Today, they know that there are 12,000 people within 5 miles of their building who have no relationship with a church and the team at River Church is willing to do whatever it takes to reach them.
God has blessed their vision and sacrifice. Last year, the River Church averaged 540 in attendance with 161 professions of faith. This year. they are launching a new campus near Huntington University and prayerfully considering other open doors for expanded impact. In addition to his leadership in the local church, Rev. Trexler serves as Assistant District Superintendent and leads StratOp consultations teams in our district.
Yesterday, Pastor Michael and Kim Hewitt led Muncie Rising Hope Church through their last preview service in preparation for their launching service this coming Sunday. They’ve done a great job of building a team and connecting with the community. If you have unchurched friends or relatives in Muncie, would you be able to encourage them to attend and pass along this link: http://risinghopechurch.com/
Last week’s schedule was shortened with Labor Day on Monday. Sherry and I were glad to have some of our family visiting with us for a quiet day at home.
Tuesday, I was back on the road for coaching conversations in Fort Wayne. Pastor Aaron Lee (LaOtto Wesleyan — soon to be Cultivate Church) met in the morning. Pastor David Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan) and I met over lunch in New Haven. Pastor Rick Fletcher (Lifeway Church) and I met in his office that afternoon. Pastor Kyle Horton (Three Rivers Church) and I met over supper at Caliente (Cuban style) in downtown Fort Wayne. It was encouraging to hear how each of these leaders is living out their commitment to making disciples in the unique context of their congregations and communities.
I made a quick run to Indy on Wednesday morning and signed loan documents for one of our churches at the WIF office. Wednesday afternoon, I met with one of our ministerial students who exploring his call to minister to the the disabled community. My last meeting of the day was with Cam Kirvan, an IWU ministerial student who is serving as supply pastor at Countryside Wesleyan Church. Cam is an ROTC student at IWU and making plans to serve in military chaplaincy.
On Thursday, Rev. Chris Williams and I welcomed Duffy Smith, former CEO of Campbell Soup and a committed Christ-follower, who has been coaching several pastors in our district through the implementation of their Maximizing Impact consultation report. Rev. Mark Atkinson graciously hosted us at Eastview Wesleyan Church. We had a productive conversation with a group of pastors who will be part of our coaching cohort as we move forward with Maximizing Impact.
On Friday, I had a coaching conversation with Rev. Mark Schnell who is serving as pastor at Albion Wesleyan Church this year while he is also teaching and completing his doctoral dissertation in homiletics (University of Toronto). Some of you may know that Mark is the son-in-law of Rev. Art O’Dell who is going through a difficult health challenge. Mark expressed appreciation for those who have been remembering Art in their prayers.
The Executive Committee of the General Board of The Wesleyan Church was convened by Zoom on Friday by General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt. Our next General Board meeting will be in November and Dr. Schmidt reviewed several items with us in preparation for that important meeting. Please keep Dr. Schmidt in your prayers as he leads our team and carries the weight of spiritual responsibility for our denomination.
I was looking forward to hearing Pastors Amanda and Johnnie Blair preaching at the Married Couples Retreat on Friday night but the heavy rains caused the retreat team to reschedule the event for October 5-7. You can still register for this marriage enrichment event here:
Saturday evening, Dr. Norman Wilson (DBA member), Rev. Alan Downing (pastor of Frankfort First Wesleyan) and I joined with Rev. Calimerio and Maria Rodriguez (Templo de Poder) who introduced us to a prospective church planter for the Lafayette Zone. Brother Omar and Sandra, his wife, were visiting from El Salvador where they have planted a church and had an effective ministry. We had a helpful conversation about the steps our district takes including the process of applying for a religious worker’s visa. Pray that God will continue to send out workers into His Harvest!
Dr. Colleen Derr, president of Wesley Seminary, extends a special invitation to the Crossroads District to join the faculty and students of Wesley Seminary for a special event featuring Dr. Richard Foster and Nathan Foster at College Wesleyan Church, September 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. Many of you have enjoyed Dr. Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity!
Dr. Richard Schenck (pastor at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan) is flying home today from Bangladesh but very much appreciates the prayers on his behalf as a medical emergency had resulted in hospitalization. Rev. Carol Schenck has been keeping us updated on his treatment and recovery and expressed appreciation for our prayers
This week, I’ll be at HQ on Wednesday and Thursday for meetings with leaders from the Heartland Collective. We continue to explore ways to create value through partnering with our neighbor districts in Ohio, Kentucky-Tennessee and Indiana South. I would welcome your prayers that God would grant us wisdom and a spirit of unity as we work together to close the Gospel gap in our region.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, September 2, I had the joy of worshiping at Lifeway Wesleyan Church in Fort Wayne. Rev. Rick Fletcher (senior pastor) along with his assistant pastors, Rev. Andy Jellison and Rev. Gary Livengood, are doing a great job of leading this multigenerational congregation. Pastor Rick is in his 21st year as the lead pastor.
Last year, Lifeway Wesleyan Church averaged 217 in worship with 29 people saved and 12 new believers baptized. On a given week, Lifeway averages 60 teens and 80 children in their midweek ministries. They are also on their way to paying off their indebtedness on their beautiful new gymnasium and Christian education wing. After the service, I enjoyed a brief meeting with the LBA and then hosted Pastor Rick and Debbie for lunch.
Last Monday, I met with Assistant DS Matthew Trexler in Marion before heading to Fishers for a meeting with Rev. Ervin Webster, pastor of St. Stephen Wesleyan Church. Tuesday, after our staff meeting at Abbey Coffee, I drove across to the west side of the state to meet with Rev. Judy Hatt, pastor of Fowler Hope Wesleyan Church. Fowler Hope Wesleyan was almost closed last year but Pastor Judy has helped the small group regroup. They have updated the facility and are reaching out to their neighbors.
Wednesday morning, I joined DS Les Crossfield (Greater Ohio), DS Aaron Sherman (KY-TN), and DS Mark Eckart (Indiana South) on a Zoom call for the Heartland Collective. We have meetings planned at HQ next week in Fishers to convene the Mission Multipliers in a roundtable event (Wednesday) and for ELEVATE, a leadership development experience, with Ken Murphy (pastor of Cypress Wesleyan) on Thursday.
I met with Rev. Eric Roemer for our annual coaching conversation at Greentown Wesleyan Church. Amanda Roemer, his wife and a former DBA member, joined us for lunch. The church is making positive strides under Eric’s leadership. One of the most noticeable changes on this visit was the paving of additional parking spaces for anticipated growth. I’m also grateful for the role that Pastor Eric has played in leadership development events for the Crossroads District.
Thursday morning, I joined Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, with other district superintendents for the monthly Zoom call he hosts to update and dialogue. Thursday afternoon, Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and I made our way to Chesterton to meet with Pastor Tom Cochran and the leadership team at Expansion Church. Pray that God will grant wisdom for significant decisions that will be made in the next few weeks.
Friday and Saturday, Sherry and I were in Grand Rapids to connect with our children. Friday evening, Pastor Jon Allen and the Journey Church team hosted a wonderful wedding reception for Joel and Christie Gorveatte. It was a beautiful evening with a good turnout from the congregation, along with family and friends. Pastor Jon led in a powerful prayer of blessing for the newlyweds.
We celebrated Sherry’s birthday on Saturday and her favorite birthday gift always is to have her growing family gathered around the table together with her. It was a special surprise to have our son Josiah fly in from Florida for this special event so that we could celebrate together. Those of you with an “empty nest” know just how delightful and rare such occasions can be as our children grow older and launch out on their own. We are grateful to God for these amazing young adults who are walking with Him.
I made it back to Marion in time to join Dr. Wright and several thousand students, alumni and friends as Indiana Wesleyan University kicked off its inaugural intercollegiate football season against Taylor University. This kick-off classic was blessed with a beautiful day and an exciting, well-played game. It was inspiring to see the power of a vision that is diligently pursued. The current and former Board of Trustees members were introduced at halftime and presented with signed footballs from the team. (I’m confident that is the first and last time my name will be called out on ESPN.) Thank you to so many of you who made it to the game and showed your school spirit. Congratulations to Dr. David Wright and his team at Indiana Wesleyan University!
In other exciting news, we’re also pleased to welcome to Scott McDermid as our new lead pastor at Six Points Wesleyan Church in Sheridan. Scott is a Taylor University graduate with 17 years of ministry experience, most recently leading the contemporary worship experience at Carmel United Methodist Church. The Six Point members voted 53-1 to extend a 2-year call and the Six Points leadership team is looking forward to welcoming Scott, Nicole, his wife, and their two young sons to the congregation.
Even if you’re unable to attend the Fairmount Camp Marriage Retreat this weekend, please add this event to your prayer list. Pastors Johnnie and Amanda Blair will be leading the main sessions. Pray that God will bless their ministry and use this event to establish even stronger foundations for these marriages and their families.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, August 26, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Tony Bye and the team at Marion Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. It was a joy to participate in the dedication prayer for their newly-remodeled children’s ministry and Christian education spaces. After the service, Sherry and I hosted the Bye family for lunch. While Brookhaven has a great legacy of faithfulness, I am glad that they are still taking risks to share the Gospel to the next generation.
Sunday evening, Sherry and I were at our home church, Fishers Waterline Church, for an outdoor worship gathering and baptism. This was also a special anniversary marking 8 years to the day from the first launch team meeting with Pastor John & Danielle Freed. Praise the Lord for the difference this young church is making!
After the service, Sherry and I had the special privilege of connecting with Bishop D’Aldo Jones and his members of his team from "The Pour House", an urban church that stepped out in faith to plant 19 years ago. We have mutual friends in Pastor Terry and Lennaire Vaughn. Pastor John Freed also stopped by our table to meet our new friends.
On Monday morning, I joined Pastor Matthew Trexler's (Region 1 Assistant DS) and his leadership cohort in Huntington at Hope Rising Church. This mentoring group has been meeting monthly through the summer and are working through J.D. Greear's challenging book "Gaining by Losing." (Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, hosted his Region 3 leadership cohort for their first meeting this past Thursday in Logansport.)
Sherry and I had a new experience leading an online prayer meeting on Monday evening as part of Waterline's 21 Days of Prayer. Once we figured out the logistics of FaceTime Live, it was good to connect with several other members of the congregation to lift up specific prayer requests. Waterline does this with different volunteers leading in each of the 21 evenings leading up to the fall launch.
Tuesday, I joined Rev. Chris Williams as he led a StratOp renewal with the leadership of Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. It is exciting to see the progress at Trinity and to join them in planning for extended impact through their new campus in Kokomo.
Wednesday was an office day for phone calls and emails before heading over to Lapel Daybreak to meet with their LBA as they interviewed a pastoral candidate. The congregation voted unanimously on Sunday to call Rev. Andy Cole as their next pastor. Pray for Pastor Andy and Elicia as they seek God’s direction.
Thursday morning, I met with Elvin Weinmann, head of our district audit committee, and Nancy Schoonmaker, District Treasurer. While this is not a full professional audit, it was good to receive the clean bill of health from our audit team.
Later that morning, I met with Dr. Ed Hoover to review the update stats report program that he has developed. He does a wonderful job of compiling helpful information and charts that are valuable to the planning process for our local churches. Please keep Ed in your prayers as he prepares for a serious surgery on September 10.
Friday morning, I met with John Bonham, Town Council Chair for Upland. In addition to his active role with the town of Upland, John is also actively involved in our Hartford City Wesleyan Church. I met with him to better understand the needs and opportunities of the town in which Sherry and I now live. I was glad to pray with him in the leadership role that God has entrusted to his stewardship for our community.
Friday evening, Sherry and I hosted Pastor Jarod Osborne and the Warsaw Zone pastors and spouses for a time of fellowship at Thornapple. This zone has been praying for an open door for Hispanic ministry in their zone and are excited to partner with Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero and the team in Elkhart to explore church planting in Warsaw and Goshen. In addition to the food, fellowship, and prayer, we managed to enjoy another Indiana tradition. Pastor Seitz was the beanbag tossing champion of the evening.
On Saturday, Sherry and I hosted Pastor Dale Munsell and the team from Albion Cornerstone for their first annual planning retreat. Some of you may recall that Cornerstone has the highest ratio of conversions to attendance in our district this year with 25 professions of faith. They are also looking at hosting a Maximizing Impact team next spring as they reach out to the thousands of lost people in their zip codes.
It’s hard to believe that summer is nearly over and Labor Day Weekend is upon us. Sherry and I will be with our children in Michigan for a couple of days and then I’ve heard a rumor about a football game in Marion on Saturday that I don’t want to miss. Hope to see you there. Go Wildcats!
This coming Sunday, I’m looking forward to worshiping with Pastor Rick Fletcher and the team at Lifeway Wesleyan Church.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. There’s still time to register for the Discipleship Making Conference at Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church on October 1 and 2, but slots are filling fast! Register here:
This morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Dr. Mark & Kari Rennaker at Southdowns Wesleyan Church in Kokomo. Pastor Mark is dearly loved by his people and they treasure his expositional Bible teaching in their adult Sunday School class. Mark came to Southdowns in 1993 and has faithfully taught this class since then, taking them through every book of the Bible more than once.
The last time I was with them they were finishing up their second year in the book of Job. This morning, I joined them as they were working their way through the book of Genesis. After the morning service and a brief meeting with their LBA, I enjoyed fellowship over lunch with Mark, Kari and Joel, their youngest son, who is headed to IWU for his freshman semester. Pastor Mark is a bi-vocational who also serves as Chair of the Department of Leadership Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University and plays a key role in the denomination’s THRIVE initiative funded by a grant from Lilly.
Sunday afternoon, I joined Pastor Clifton Ashlock and Ministry Leadership Team (MLT) at Anderson United Wesleyan Church for a review of their Maximizing Impact initiatives and future planning. They are making significant progress on their projects and strongly endorsed the MLT format for ministry coordination.
Sunday evening, Rev. Zack Working was installed at the senior pastor at Hope Rising Church in Huntington along with Rev. Carla Working (assistant pastor), and Caleb & Kiana Kimball (resident pastors). Pastor Carla is also staying busy as she works with Dr. Colleen Derr at Wesley Seminary. There is a growing tide of momentum as they reach out to the community. There were 91 in attendance this morning, which marks a new high for the summer. A good group came out for the evening service and the dessert reception in their fellowship hall. Pray that God continues to direct and bless Hope Rising!
Thank you to all who have been praying for our churches in transition. The LBA at Marion Nelson Street Wesleyan Church has voted to recommend that the Local Church Conference vote to extend a two-year call to Rev. Don Glenn.
Congratulations to New Castle Memorial Drive Wesleyan Church on the successful completion of their pastoral search. Rev. Eric George, from the Greater Ohio District, candidated last weekend and accepted a strong vote for a 2-year call as their next pastor. We look forward to welcoming Pastor Eric and Diana George to the Crossroads team!
I was in Knightstown last Monday to do a final walk-through of the building with one of the trustees. They’ve not had services since earlier in the year. The few members left, primarily due to declining health, have determined that they’re unable to continue. Pray for wisdom in the stewardship of the facility. Monday afternoon, I was at HQ to meet with Scott McDermid, the pastor who has been invited to candidate at Sheridan Six Points Church this coming weekend.
On Tuesday, I joined Rev. Chris Williams in meeting with Pastor Tim McClellan and the staff at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church. There is a rising tide at Lakeview and we’re looking forward to working with their team this November in a StratOp planning retreat.
Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of meeting with Pastor Gary Bingham and the LBA at Marion Hillside Wesleyan Church. Hillside had another strong year of ministry with 20 people saved and 11 baptisms. It was good to affirm their team and to walk through the Maximizing Impact consultation process as they prayerfully consider a date next spring.
I had a variety of other calls and correspondence through the week, but the highlight was undoubtedly being able to attend Old Time Camp Meeting with Dr. Jim Lo speaking. I was able to attend Wednesday-Saturday evening. I appreciated Dr. Lo’s exposition of the Sermon on the Mount with the repeated call to seek righteousness, not happiness. He reminded us of the importance of purity in our attentions, our affections and our allegiance. We don’t need to grow colder just because we’re getting older!
There’s still time to take advantage of the Crossroads District matching fund for churches who are helping with their pastor’s registration for the Gathering. This opportunity for renewal and retooling happens once every four years. Don’t miss out! Here’s the link: Gathering 2019
And the Discipleship Conference at Trinity Wesleyan Church is just around the corner, October 1 and 2. People are coming from across the US but we’re blessed to have this next door. Here’s the link to register: https://www.encountertrinity.com/DMC2018/
Here’s a reminder of why we do what we do: Rev. David Dignal has been leading the Edgerton Wesleyan Church in implementing the Oikos (8-15) model of intentional evangelism. Just this week, Pastor Dave had the joy of leading another one of the men in his 8-15 circle to Christ. The men in Dave’s discipleship group stepped up and committed that each one of them would take a specific day to pray for this new brother in Christ who is going through a tough time. Today, this new believer was in church and brought along his father who is also taking first steps in following Christ.
Keep on making disciples who make disciples!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday, August 12, I worshiped at Chesterton Expansion Church with Pastor Tom and Sarah Cochran. Pastor Tom has been preaching through the Lord’s Prayer this month and shared the truth of “God’s Will, God’s Way” yesterday. He reminded us that prayer is not about seizing control but about surrendering control to God. After the service, I met briefly with their leadership team and then shared lunch with Tom and Sarah.
Sunday afternoon, on the way back south from Chesterton, I had the joy of stopping in at Davis Wesleyan Church to welcome Rev. Matthew and Kendra Ohime. This is a homecoming to Indiana for Matt and Kendra after serving in Wisconsin District for several years as church planters. Kendra is the new band director at Oregon-Davis High School and we’re excited that Matt has agreed to provide leadership at Davis Wesleyan while he attends Wesley Seminary. They have three terrific children so keep the family in your prayers as they settled into these new responsibilities and relationships.
Sunday evening, I joined with the congregation at Anderson North Wesleyan Church for the pastoral installation of Rev. David Shafer, as senior pastor, and Rev. Scott Stamper, assistant/administrative pastor. This is a great team and there are exciting days ahead at Anderson North. The service concluded with a meaningful time of consecrating prayer around the altar. It was good to see retired pastor Rev. Eddie and Julianne Purciful there for the service. Rev. Purciful led so well that it’s taking two pastors to fill his shoes.
Last week included coaching conversations with Rev. Duane Summitt (Fishersburg), Rev. Brent Miller (Gas City Southside), and Rev. David Leitzel (Hamilton). On Wednesday evening I met with the LBA (Local Board of Administration) at Marion Nelson Street Wesleyan Church. They have asked Rev. Don Glenn to fill in for the remainder of this conference year. Continue to pray for the Fletcher family and for this Nelson Street congregation.
Dr. Aron Willis was in town this week and it was a delight to connect with him over breakfast on Thursday morning. On Thursday evening, I interviewed a prospective youth pastor/church planter couple in Marion.
Friday evening, Sherry and I joined with Rev. Dr. Richard Schenck and Rev. Carol Schenck to host Rev. Joshe Bose, National Director of The Wesleyan Church of Bangladesh. Bangladesh and Mozambique are the two fields in which the Crossroads District has ongoing commitments with Global Partners for the Jesus Film, church planting, and pastoral education.
Under Rev. Bose’s leadership, The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh now numbers 45 congregations with 1900+ in attendance in a country that is less than 1% Christian. The Schenck’s have played a key role in the development of this field and I’ll be joining their team for leadership training there in October.
On Saturday, Dr. Norman and Kim Wilson joined us to host our Hispanic leaders for lunch at Thornapple Lodge in Upland. We had a great time of fellowship and worship with this growing group of pastors who have joined our team from Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela. Rev. Nephtali Lopez, pastor at Carmel Amistad leads this zone and it was a special joy to welcome Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero representing our newest congregation in Elkhart.
Like many of you, I participated in the Global Leadership Summit last Thursday and Friday, joining the Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church staff on Thursday morning and watching the remainder from home. The speakers were terrific again this year and Craig Groeschel provided a classic example of what it looks like to lead in a crisis. If you weren’t able to attend, you can catch up through blogger Brian Dodd’s summary (Brian Dodd on #GLS18) or check out Megan Brigg’s selection of quotes from the event (GLS Top 50 Quotes).
I received word last week from our Wesleyan Education and Clergy Development Office that Wesleyan pastors are being invited to participate in an important national study on clergy wellness conducted by Dr. Matthew Bloom. Dr. Bloom (University of Notre Dame professor) is the principal researcher. The ECD office will send an explanatory email to all Wesleyan pastors on August 14 and the survey will be sent out on September 18. This is part of the Lilly Endowment Fund’s ongoing commitment to clergy well-being over a lifetime of ministry. One of the fruits of the previous research is the THRIVE initiative from which many of our pastors have received financial assistance. Please participate!
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Three last thoughts from #GLS18:
Pastor Zach and Lyndy Szmara thought they were preparing for an international mission field when they graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University. They were but it turned out to be in Logansport, Indiana. I had the privilege of worshiping with them and the growing congregation at The Bridge on Sunday morning, August 5.
Nico Loran led the music and prayer (in Spanish and English) and Pastor Zach Szmara brought the message from Acts 6 (in English with Spanish translation via headsets). The Bridge also hosts Immigrant Connection and the Intersection Coffee Shop, building bridges of hope and reconciliation in this rebounding community.
Sunday afternoon, I worshiped with Rev. Calimerio & Maria Rodriguez at Templo de Poder in Frankfort. The worship here is always inspiring and Pastor Calimerio’s messsage from John 16:33 was a call to live in the peace of God.
Sunday evening, I had the privilege of representing our district in the installation of Rev. Harold Henson as the new pastor at Colfax Wesleyan Church. Rev. Henson graduated from Wesley Seminary at IWU this spring and returned to his home church after a term of service in Oklahoma. The congregation has warmly welcomed Harold and Angie.
I appreciated the special effort of Rev. Logan and Shaina Patriquin to come down from The Branch (former Schuyler Avenue) Wesleyan Church to represent the pastors in the Lafayette Zone. Following the installation service, the congregation hosted a reception in the fellowship hall. Pray that God will bless the ministry of the Henson’s and reach out to extend your welcome.
Monday morning, I assisted Rev. Rick Fletcher and Rev. Marty Fletcher in the memorial service for Rev. Steve Fletcher, pastor of Marion Nelson Street Wesleyan Church. Fairmount Wesleyan Church, where Steve and Patsy has served for 17 years, hosted the service and a reception. The service was a celebration Steve’s faith in Christ and love for his family with inspiring music and meaningful memories. Please remember Patsy, their family, and the Nelson Street congregation in your prayers as they move forward.
Last week included a variety of meetings with members of our district team, including the first coaching conversation of this new conference year. Some of you will know that I have the privilege of meeting one-on-one with every lead/senior pastor in our district each year for a guided conversation that covers personal and family well-being, along with ministry growth and challenges. Pastor Tom Parsons (Hartford City Wesleyan Church) and I met on last week. Coaching conversations this week will include Pastor Duane Summit, Pastor Brent Miller, and Pastor Dave Leitzel.
On Thursday afternoon, I joined Rev. Jon Wiest and members of his Discipleship Cohort who convened via ZOOM to continue this year-long learning journey. They’ll be wrapping up next month and then coming together for the Discipleship Conference at Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church on October 1-2. You can register here:
Leadership development is one of the core values of the Crossroads District. Assistant DS Chris Williams and Dr. David Smith (chair of the DBMD) led our District Board of Ministerial Development in meetings on Friday and Saturday at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. With nearly 100 students already in our process, and another 60 individuals from our district taking ministry preparation classes but not yet licensed, this team plays a significant role in shaping the future of our Crossroads District and our denomination.
DBMD team members invest significant time, energy and prayer into the task of preparing Christ-servant leaders. You may be aware that our denominational leadership is updating and revising the educational track from a checklist of courses to a core set of competencies. These core competencies will be developed and assessed in both educational environments and the supervised ministry of the local church.
Our DBMD recognizes and affirms that every believer is called to ministry, regardless of their context or career. We also affirm the specific equipping ministry of Word and Sacrament that The Wesleyan Church recognizes in ordination. Pray that God will continue to bless this team as they serve our ministerial students.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. It’s not just for people over 55 (like me)! Regardless of your age, if you appreciate familiar hymns and warm-hearted preaching, you’ll want to attend the “Old Time Camp” next week, August 15-19 at Fairmount Camp, with prayer gatherings led by Alex Mandura, Bible Study with Pastor Don Glenn, and the preaching of Dr. Jim Lo.