Sunday morning, I had the joy of worshiping at Anderson United Wesleyan Church. Rev. Joe Jackson leads the overall ministry, assisted by Rev. Nick Wilson. Rev. Adriana Zarate and Rev. Nicholas Zarate lead the Hispanic congregation. I had the privilege of preaching to the combined congregation with Rev. Jarvis Ferguson translating the sermon and other proceedings. Anderson United offers simultaneous services on Sunday morning, one in English and one in Spanish. During the sermon time, the children and youth breakout into a shared ministry of discipleship classes. The highlight of yesterday morning was the baptism of three new believers from the Hispanic congregation. Pray that God will continue to bless this unique ministry partnership.
Sunday afternoon, I traveled north to meet with the members of Albion Wesleyan Church. Rev. Mark and Sharie Schnell, who commute from Marion, have been a blessing to this congregation. They were planning to conclude their ministry there last spring but agreed to continue serving the church through this pandemic. The meeting was hosted by Brian Frisk, another of the many exceptional lay leaders in our district. Pray that God will grant wisdom and unity as they move forward together.
Last week’s schedule was a little different. Two of the boards with which I serve were scheduled to meet. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the General Board of The Wesleyan Church met online. The Executive Committee met via Zoom on Monday evening and then the full board met on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Board of the Wesleyan Bible Conference Association was meeting in person at Brooksville, Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. I traveled to Brooksville on Sunday evening and returned home on Wednesday afternoon.
Both meetings were productive but the most newsworthy development is that General Conference has now been postponed until 2022. The uncertainty of travel restrictions into and within the USA, along with likely financial penalties from the convention center and hotels, argued in favor of this delay. Pray for General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt and his team as they navigate these challenging decisions.
I was back in the office on Thursday and then in Pendleton on Friday morning to meet with a pastor who is transferring into our denomination and preparing to church plant. Friday evening, Sherry and I had the honor of hosting pastors and spouses from Region 1 South Zone 2 for an evening of fellowship and prayer. There’s nothing quite like the fellowship that ministerial colleagues share as we share our joys and lift one another’s burdens. Special thanks to Rev. Mark Atkinson, our zone chair, for coordinating our evening together.
Saturday morning, I met with Interim Pastor Dr. Bob Hallett and the leadership team at Lancaster Wesleyan Church. Dr. Hallett has provided positive transitional leadership for the LWC team as they prepare to launch their pastoral search. I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Hallett in the future with other churches in transition.
God is on the move in exciting ways across our district team. Three more church planting projects are moving toward DBA approval next month. Let’s continue to pray that God will raise up and send out dozens of church planters to help us reach the 3 million people without Christ in our state.
We are also rejoicing with the reports of lives being made new. In addition to the three baptisms at Anderson United, I received word of 21 more baptisms this past weekend. Campus Pastor Ryan VanMatre reported 5 baptisms at the LifeSpring Church South Campus. Rev. Rick Fletcher reported 3 baptisms as Lifeway Church in Fort Wayne with another profession of faith. Rev. Chris Williams reported 5 baptisms at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion. Rev. Logan Patriquin reported 8 baptisms and two more professions of faith at The Branch Wesleyan Church in Lafayette. Lives are being made new! Heaven is rejoicing and so are we!
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to Rev. Steve Cunnington and his family on the passing of Wanda, beloved wife and mother. The Cunningtons retired after 39 years of faithful service in the Crossroads District, most recently at Beaver Creek Wesleyan Church. Pastor Ed Friberg conducted the graveside service and Rev. Cunnington expressed his appreciation for the way the Plymouth Wesleyan Church ministered to their family.
Our sympathies and prayers are also extended to Assistant Pastor Elizabeth Rhyno (Waterline Church) on the passing of her mother, Vivian Hill, last week after an extended illness. Elizabeth was able to be with her mother and father in Canada for these last difficult months. Pray for Pastor Elizabeth as she prepares to return to Indiana later this week.
We also extend our sympathies and prayers to Rev. Dr. Colleen Derr, President of Wesley Seminary, on the passing of Dixie Derr, her mother-in-law. Dixie Derr is also the grandmother of Megan Cox, who serves as Assistant Pastor at New Journey Community (Wesleyan) Church in Wabash. Other family members have also been hospitalized. Please remember the Derr family in your prayers.
In addition to those who have lost loved ones, this season is especially difficult for our health care professionals. Three of our Marion churches, Brookhaven, Lakeview, and The River, gathered at Marion General Hospital on Wednesday evening. In addition to providing this prayer support, the churches also combined to provide care packages for the nursing staff who are going the second and third mile in their service to others.
Pastor Allen Laws (Warren Wesleyan Church) is requesting prayer for Cheryl, his wife. Cheryl was hospitalized first in Huntington and has now been transferred to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne.
Our district office will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and Friday, but our pastors can call me directly if I can help in some way. We are praying that this will be an especially meaningful Thanksgiving Day in the light of these unique and challenging days. Atlantic DS Rev. Peter Moore, my friend and colleague, shared this thoughtful reminder from C.S. Lewis: “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent