Sunday morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Mike Colaw and the team at Trinity Church in Indianapolis. Earlier this week, Mike had shared the vision that God had planted in his heart. This Sunday, after the third worship service, the ministry directors and small group leaders of the church gathered for a luncheon and powerful vision-casting conversation with Pastor Mike. They are building out a mobilization strategy to unleash hundreds of lay pastors in the marketplace. Pray that God will bless this missional initiative. I am personally grateful for Mike’s partnership as Assistant DS.
Later on Sunday afternoon, I connected with Pastor Aldean and Jesse Pablo in Fort Wayne. The launch team for SEND Church was hosting a community connection event with their local YMCA. Pastor Aldean has been approved as one of the volunteer chaplains for this YMCA and they will also have the opportunity to host launch team meetings here. Pastor Aldean is working toward launching their first micro-church by Easter weekend. Please keep this team in your prayers.
Tuesday, February 18, our district staff met in the morning for planning and prayer. Pastor Steve DeNeff and I met over lunch for our annual coaching conversation. I met with Assistant DS Mike Colaw in the afternoon to review the annual DS evaluation that our district pastors completed. Thank you to each pastor who took time to provide this helpful feedback to our District Board of Administration.
Wednesday morning, I met with Pastor Brad LeRoy (Harvest Church) for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Michael Hewitt (Rising Hope Church) and I met in Muncie for our annual coaching conversation in the afternoon. Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and I met with a prospective church planter over supper in Marion. Pray that God will send workers into His Harvest!
Our District Board of Administration met at the Branch Coffee Shop in Fairmount on Thursday. Special thanks to Pastor Jeff Luedtke and his team for their hospitality to our board. Kathy Drury brought our devotional and Rev. Emily Hines led our prayer time. I am grateful for the diverse perspectives and collective wisdom of this board. After a productive meeting, we shared a supper meal with members and their spouses who were able to join us. Our next meeting is set for April 30.
Assistant DS Chris Williams and I met on Friday for follow-up work from the DBA meeting. Later that morning, I met with one of the leading UMC pastors in our area and appreciated his insights on the transitions taking place within their movement. Friday evening, I was in Fort Wayne to connect with Rev. Lane Sander and the fearless leaders of our Crossroads District All-Nighter. More than 500 students and their leaders/chaperones shared an action-packed event that included sermons from Rev. Aldean Pablo and worship led by Olivia Eckart. Thank you to every pastor, parent, and volunteer who helps to make this annual event a huge success!
Saturday morning, I joined Assistant DS Chris Williams and a great group of Region 3 pastors for their spring meeting at the Whistle Stop Restaurant in Monon. It was great to hear the stories of God at work in our ministries. Pastor Chris shared a preview of the church revitalization seminars we’ll be rolling out this fall and encouraged the pastors in keeping our churches focused on multiplying disciple-makers.
We are always thrilled to praise God with our local churches as they celebrate baptisms. Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis passed along word of five more baptisms on February 16. Here’s a picture of some of those new believers:
Pastor Rick Fletcher and Associate Pastor Andy Jellison were excited to pass along this photo of the 19th, 20th, and 21st baptisms of the year that they celebrated on February 23 at Lifeway Wesleyan Church in Fort Wayne.
Pastor Mark Atkinson and the team at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church are praising God for more lives being changed by the Gospel through their ministry. They celebrated the baptism of three more new believers on Sunday, February 23.
Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church shared the news of this young man who prayed to receive Christ with his mother and with Aleah, the children’s pastor. Eli’s testimony was “I want to be baptized because I believe in Jesus… I want to show others that I’ve made that decision. I cannot wait to grow in my relationship with Jesus.” Praise God and pray for Eli to continue to flourish in his faith!
Congratulations to Jeff Clark, ViceChair of the LBA at Marion College Wesleyan Church, on the regular season championship for the men’s basketball team at Indiana Wesleyan University. Jeff, the Associate Head Coach, and Greg Tonagel, Head Coach, are both graduates of Wesley Seminary and recognized nationally for their excellence in coaching with their philosophy of “I Am 3rd.”
Our sympathy and prayers are extended to Mrs. Esther Osborne, wife and ministry partner at Warsaw Pathway Wesleyan Church with her husband Rev. Jarod Osborne. Esther’s father, José Antonio Nuñez, passed away earlier this month and was buried in Uganda where he had effectively served as a missionary for 16 years.
Thank you for all that each one of you are doing to advance the Kingdom of God in your corner of His Harvest!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, February 16, I was in New Castle to worship with Pastor Eric George and the congregation of Memorial Wesleyan Church. The technical team was scrambling after an equipment failure but they were able to patch something together in time for the service (thank you, Mark!). I appreciated the warm reception and the privilege of preaching to this responsive congregation. After the service, I had a brief meeting with the LBA before heading on to Carmel.
Sunday afternoon, I met with Pastor Neftali Lopez and the leadership team at Carmel Amistad Cristiana Iglesia Wesleyana for a ministry planning session. I was able to arrive in time to bring greetings in the service and then to enjoy a cup of coffee in their spacious new welcome center. This is a wonderful multi-generational congregation and I appreciate the leadership that Pastor Neftali brings both to his church and to our Crossroads District Hispanic ministries.
Last Monday, I represented our Crossroads District team at the funeral service for Rev. Dr. John Dunn, retired CEO of Wesleyan Investment Foundation, former district superintendent and church planter. Dr. Kevin Myers officiated the memorial service, General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt brought remarks on behalf of The Wesleyan Church, and Dr. Craig Dunn shared cherished memories from the family. Dr. Dunn left an amazing legacy of faithful leadership in the The Wesleyan Church. His family carries that legacy well. Please remember the Dunn family in your prayers.
Monday afternoon, I met with Pastor Theo Griffin (Greenfield Brown’s Chapel) for our annual coaching conversation. We are delighted to have Theo and Randy as the newest members of our Crossroads District team.
Monday evening, I was with Pastor George and the LBA at New Castle Memorial as they prepared for the upcoming pastoral vote. I was reminded once again of how deeply The Wesleyan Church is indebted to faithful lay leaders who serve alongside pastors to provide direction and protection to the ministry of our congregations.
Tuesday morning, I met with our district office staff for planning and prayer. Seth Bye reported that more than 300 have registered for the first Heartland Gathering next month in Pigeon Forge. Pastor Dan VanCise (Marion West 8th Street) and I met over lunch for our annual coaching conversation.
Pastor Aldean Pablo and I met for our coaching conversation and an exciting update on doors that God is opening for our SEND Church planting project in Fort Wayne. Please remember Aldean and Jesse in your prayers as they lead this disciple-making mission.
Tuesday evening, I joined the LBA at North Anderson Wesleyan Church as they prepared for the upcoming pastor vote. The board enthusiastically affirmed the ministry that Pastor David Shafer and Rev. James Stamper are bringing to the congregation. Both of these effective leaders serve their church bi-vocationally.
Wednesday morning, Pastor Steve Colter (Marion Chapel Pike Wesleyan) and I met for our annual coaching conversation in Marion. The next coaching conversation was with Rev. Paul Walden, supply pastor at the Muncie 8th Street Wesleyan Church. While in Muncie, Rev. Mike Hewitt and I connected with a prospective church planter who is prayerfully considering a project in the Yorktown community. Join us in praying that God will send workers into His harvest!
Thursday morning, after teaching at IWU, I met with Dr. Colleen Derr, our president of Wesley Seminary. I am grateful for the leadership she is bringing to this vital ministry that is training so many of our present and future leaders for The Wesleyan Church.
Co-pastors Carla and Zach Working met with me over lunch in Marion to update me on the ministry of Hope Rising in Huntington and the possibility of expanding the impact of their congregation in neighboring communities.
My final meeting of the day was with the leadership team at Wabash New Journey Community Church. They are celebrating significant progress in updating their facility and their technical capacity. Pastor Brian Scramlin has done a terrific job following in the footsteps of the church planter, Tom Cochran.
Friday morning, Assistant DS Chris Williams and I met in Marion. I was in Fishers for a lunch meeting with Rev. Scott Rhyno, General Manager of Leadership League. Nancy Schoonmaker, District Treasurer, and I met via Zoom in the afternoon to prepare for this week’s DBA meeting and to begin budget preparations for the coming conference year.
Nancy Schoonmaker has done an incredible job serving as Crossroads District Treasurer since our district was created in 2016. In addition to her many other responsibilities at IWU, with national boards, and in her local church, Nancy has just started a doctoral program. In light of that, we’re reluctantly accepting her resignation at the rise of the conference with our deep gratitude and prayers for every success in her new endeavor.
Dr. Richard Schenck, Rev. Emily Hines, and Rev. David Hines were in Bangladesh representing our Crossroads District partnership and serving alongside Rev. Joshe Bose, National Director, for the annual conference and leadership training. The Wesleyan Church of Bangladesh began with 11 churches in 2002 and today has grown to 56 congregations with 2,185 members. Four new churches were launched in the past 12 months with 140 new believers. Up to 95% of the members of these churches are new believers reached through the Jesus film and evangelistic efforts of church planters.
Here in Indiana, our own mission field, we are celebrating with churches reporting baptisms this past week. Pastor Jeremy Armiger and Assistant Pastor Dr. Jim Lo had the privilege of baptizing a new sister in Christ at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church on Sunday morning. Carol’s story is unique in that she was delivered from involvement in Wicca. Praise God for setting captives free!
Pastor Jim Weinmann and the Indianapolis Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church are also rejoicing this week. Pastor Jim has the privilege of baptizing a new believer on Sunday morning. Due to physical limitations from a stroke, Pastor Jim was glad to accommodate her with a pouring baptism. We join the team at Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church in celebrating another life made new by the grace of God!
Thank you for all that you are doing to advance the Kingdom in your corner of His Harvest!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, February 9, I joined Pastor Dan and Shannon Heylmann for worship at Grant City Wesleyan Church. Dan is another of our faithful bi-vocational pastors who has been commuting from Indianapolis. Last month, Pastor Dan had announced his resignation (to take effect this summer) with plans coming together to continue his studies onsite at Dallas Theological Seminary in the fall. After the morning service, I had an opportunity to connect with members of the leadership team as they begin the search process for their next pastor.
Sunday afternoon, I joined Pastor Paul VanCise and the Local Board of Administration (LBA) at Bryant Wesleyan Church. Pastor Paul has been serving at Bryant since 2003. The LBA was very encouraging in their pre-vote review and I was glad to join them in affirming the wonderful progress made under Pastor Paul’s leadership.
Tuesday, I was in Marion for the IWU class and our office staff meeting before connecting with Rev. Darrel Herring, supply pastor at Indianapolis Central Wesleyan, in Westfield for our annual coaching conversation. My final meeting of the day was with Rev. Don Glenn and the LBA at Marion Nelson Street Wesleyan on Tuesday evening.
Wednesday morning, I was at the IWU chapel service as Dr. Jim and Roxene Lo renewed their wedding vows. Dr. Lo preached a powerful message on keeping Christ at the center of your marriage. Dr. David Vardaman and I led the renewal of vows for Dr. & Mrs. Lo.
I met with Pastor Don Glenn to review the LBA meeting of the previous evening at Nelson Street. My last meeting of the day was with Dr. Judy Crossman. It was encouraging to hear Pastor Judy’s testimony of God’s calling and leading in her life.
Thursday, I met with Pastor Ben Parker (Fairmount Back Creek Wesleyan) for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Ben made a commitment to use FaceBook to provide a live devotional for his congregation every morning and is receiving positive feedback. I was able to take in the Exponential webinar Thursday afternoon before heading to Fort Wayne to meet with Pastor Heath Croft and the leadership team at Level 13 Church.
I participated in a General Conference memorial subcommittee chaired by Carl Shepherd at HQ on Friday. This team is doing the spadework on a series of recommendations that will be brought back to the General Board meeting in March.
Friday evening, Region 2 Assistant DS Mike and Leslie Colaw joined Sherry and me to host the Region 2 East Zone pastors and spouses fellowship. An icy driveway resulted in us relocating to the BBQ restaurant in Daleville. These are always great times together.
Pastor Steve Binn reached out with terrific “before and after” pictures from their foyer renovation project. Like many of our church buildings, Lone Oak Wesleyan had a very narrow hall foyer and hallway leading to their sanctuary. There was no space to welcome guests or for congregation members to connect before and after worship. The construction crew did a great job completing this project in just one week. Congratulations to the Lone Oak team on this exciting step to “get ready for company!”
Pastor John Hannan, planting the CrossRoads Church in Union City, checked in Sunday evening with news that they had four new families as guests for their launch team meeting and celebrated another baptism. Here’s a picture of Pastor John with the three folks who’ve been baptized in the last two weeks. Thank you for keeping this church planting project in your prayers.
Just a reminder that today, February 10, is the last date to register for the Heartland Gathering. Please join us in praying that God anoints our time together in Pigeon Forge. Click here to register.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, February 2, I had the joy of worshiping with Pastor Steve and Rosie Binns at Lone Oak Wesleyan Church in Anderson. Pastor Steve left his previous career and answered the call to lead this congregation in 2018. Now, in his second year of leading Lone Oak, they are taking new steps to reach out to their neighborhood and the nearby elementary school. The LBA just voted for Pastor Steve to begin a Sunday evening home Bible study for younger adults and folks on the margins, and the mature members of the congregation will take responsibility for the Sunday evening gathering at the church. I was also glad to connect with the LBA for a brief meeting after the service. Pray that God will continue to bless their efforts to move the church into mission.
Last Monday evening, I met with the Local Board of Administration at Lancaster Wesleyan Church. Rev. Doug Sharrard has faithfully served the Lancaster congregation for more than two decades but felt that the time was right for his transition. Doug and Cheryl purchased a home in Marion and will make that the base for their next season of ministry. I enjoyed working with the LBA as we mapped out next steps. They committed to leading the congregation in a 30-day prayer focus as we begin the pastoral search.
After teaching at IWU and meeting with our office staff on Tuesday, I flew to Tampa for a series of meetings. My first schedule stop was in Brooksville. I was recently elected to serve as denominational representative on the Wesleyan Village Board of Director. (I think this officially confirms that I’m past being middle-aged.) Dr. Don Maness is doing a great job as Executive Director. More than 800 lively seniors enjoy this active Christian community during the winter season, including my father. After our meeting, we shared lunch in the dining hall and I ran into some Crossroads District friends (Rev. Dennis & Barbara Hilton and Dr. Joe Harmon) who were enjoying their time at Wesleyan Village.
Wednesday evening supper began the Wesleyan Superintendents’ Institute back in Tampa with Dr. Wayne Schmidt and my colleagues from across North America. We enjoyed our meal together that evening and discussions continued through lunch on Thursday. Dr. Schmidt shared an update on the “ReThink Small” Church Conference recently held in North Carolina and Dr. Dennis Jackson cast vision for a strategic prayer initiative that will lead us into General Conference. There is warm collegiality among these district leaders and a growing sense of anticipation as we approach GenCon 2020.
Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, I was part of the Exponential Multipliers Learning Cohort that met at the Tampa Underground. Crossroads District leaders joining us in this year’s Exponential cohorts include Zach Szmara (Logansport – The Bridge), Terry Vaughn (South Bend – The Bridge Urban Church), Ollie Dongell (Plymouth Wesleyan), Steve Bray (Richmond LifeSpring), Tony Bye (Marion Brookhaven) and Matthew Trexler (Marion River Church). Brian Sanders and Larry Walkemeyer led our main sessions and stretched our thinking about what we might envision in the church of tomorrow. Larry’s church in California was involved in launching 19 new congregations. Brian and his team at the Underground now form the resource hub for more than 200 micro-churches scattered across Tampa. I love learning about the creative ways that God is moving to mobilize the church for disciple-making in this generation.
Lifeway Church in Fort Wayne recently knocked out walls for expanded capacity (up to 400), remodeled their auditorium, and replaced their pews with comfortable chairs. Yesterday, they had 215 present for their first service in this welcoming space and reports are that everyone loved the renovation. Associate Pastor Andy Jellison preached and encouraged the congregation to keep on sharing Christ with their personal mission field of 8-15. Pastor Rick Fletcher and Pastor Andy are doing a great job leading together through this season of intentional succession. Congratulations, Lifeway Church!
Last evening, I was blessed to connect with Pastor John Hannan by phone for an exciting update from CrossRoads Church, our newest church in Union City. Instead of football party, they gathered for a baptism celebration. While they have not yet begun to hold regular Sunday morning worship services, they are staying focused on meeting needs and making disciples. Yesterday, they baptized two new believers and celebrated together with a new high of 40 people in their launch team gathering. Pray for Pastor John and Beth Hannan as they lead in planting this new congregation.
Dr. Rich Schenck, lead pastor of the Circle of Hope Network, passed along the encouraging report that their Beech Grove campus had 1 baptism last week and that Pastor Nicolas and Adriana Zarate, celebrated 4 baptisms yesterday at the Rey de Gloria (King of Glory) campus in Noblesville with 44 in attendance.
Pastor Jeremy Armiger and Dr. Jim Lo continue leading the Chesterfield Parkway Wesleyan Church in reaching their community with the Gospel. They celebrated another baptism yesterday of an adult who was far from God this time last year. God is moving!
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. - There is only one week remaining to register for The Heartland Gathering! Don't miss out on this opportunity!