Sunday morning, March 24, I was able to worship with Pastor Mark Atkinson and the team at Eastview Wesleyan Church in Gas City. These are exciting days of Kingdom advancement at Eastview as they prepare to launch their first campus in Jonesboro on April 7 in the building of the former Main Street Wesleyan Church. Rev. Noah Farmer has been commissioned to lead the launch team. Eastview is believing God for 30 baptisms in this conference year. Pastor Mark did a great job casting vision in his message for their 3 focal points: 1) influencing their community, 2) impacting their children and 3) increasing their capacity to fulfill their M&M calling: to Make and Mature disciples.
Before heading to Eastview, I dropped in at Exit Church, a ministry launched 14 years ago by our friends Darren & Nancy Campbell. Olivia Eckart, daughter of Rev. Jeff & Arriana Eckart, was preaching her last sermon as she wraps up her master’s degree in IWU’s Kern program. The future of the church is bright with emerging leaders like Olivia stepping out to answer God’s call to ministry.
Last week began with a Monday meeting of our Region 1 leaders hosted by Pastor Matthew Trexler and the River Church team in Marion. Pastor David Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan) and Pastor Mark Atkinson (Eastview) shared updates from the multiplication initiatives at their respective churches. We broke into groups for a productive conversation on trends and how they shape the context in which we minister. After the session, we continued the conversations and laughter over lunch at Casa Brava. I’m always encouraged to hear us sharing stories of bold vision and Kingdom-expanding faith from our front line leaders.
Tuesday began with a meeting at IWU with Dr. Jim Lo, Mrs. Sue Wampner, and Dr. David Smith as they finalized plans for our spring Prayer Gathering, April 13 (Registration Link). I appreciate their willingness to adjust the schedule to a one-day event on Saturday to facilitate greater participation by lay leaders and bi-vocational pastors. We’ll be meeting for prayer at Fairmount Campground from 10-1 with a free lunch provided. Later on Tuesday, after our weekly office staff meeting at Abbey Coffee, Pastor Brian Scramlin and I met for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Brian is teaching through Genesis and has been able to answer tough questions with wisdom and grace.
Wednesday morning, I met with one of our pastoral couples to explore possibilities for their upcoming sabbatical. I’m glad to be part of a denomination that provides a minimum of 30 days for sabbatical after every 7 years of service. For more information, check out this link: https://www.wesleyan.org/sabbaticals-learning-to-thrive and Sabbatical Policy example
Wednesday afternoon, church planter Rev. Marc Ulrich and I met in Merrillville. Marc and Heather are in their fourth year of planting ReThink Church. Church planting is never easy but they’ve encountered some unique challenges in a city that is heavily Catholic/Lutheran and skeptical of new ministries. They are sowing good seeds through community engagement and making disciples who are now reproducing. Keep these faithful church pioneers in your prayers!
Thursday, I was on the road again for coaching conversations with Dr. Ollie Dongell (Plymouth Wesleyan) and Rev. Mike Cloud (The Cross in Rochester). One of the highlights of the day was having Dr. Dongell drive me past the four sites where Plymouth Wesleyan held services after its beginning from a revival service held back in the 1890s. Here’s a picture of the first building they constructed for worship.
Each of those relocations required faith and sacrifice. Today, they minister to more than 600 people each weekend because of the previous generation’s faithfulness and vision.
Thursday evening, I met with the Local Board of Administration at Hartford City Wesleyan Church as they continue in their pastoral search process. They’ve received a large number of resumes and are prayerfully seeking God’s woman or man who will lead the church into the next chapter of ministry.
Friday morning, I met with Dr. Robert Hallett, founder of TLC Ministries, to explore future opportunities to leverage his experience in stewardship development for our Crossroads District churches. Dr. Hallett is semi-retired near Hartford City and would be available to partner with your church in capital campaigns or pulpit supply.
Friday afternoon, I represented the Crossroads District at the funeral of Rev. Dr. Robert McIntyre, General Superintendent Emeritus. Pastor Tim McClellan and the team at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan graciously hosted this celebration of Dr. McIntyre’s life and ministry. Dr. Norman Wilson preached the message and Rev. Chad McCallum shared a powerful tribute built around the theme “But I called him, Grandpa.”
Friday evening, I had the privilege of hosting Rev. Joshe Bose, National Director of The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh, and Dr. Richard Schenck for supper in Noblesville. It was good to hear more of their plans for the future in our continued partnership with the Crossroads District. Rev. Bose will be returning to Indiana in April for his graduation from Wesley Seminary. We are planning to take another team to Bangladesh in the coming conference year so let us know if you’d be interested in this vision tour.
Saturday morning, several of our bivocational pastors joined me at The Branch in Fairmount for a meeting designed for those who have responsibilities that preclude their participation in our weekday events. Special thanks to Pastor Jeff Luedtke and his team for hosting this meeting and catering our lunch.
Saturday afternoon, I was in Muncie to meet with Rev. Victor and Rev. Claudia Silva who lead Casa del Alfarero, the Hispanic Wesleyan Church in Richmond. I am grateful for their leadership and commitment to reaching their community for Christ.
My last stop of the day was at Rising Hope Church’s remodeling project. Rev. John Wiest and more than a dozen volunteers from Indianapolis Trinity jumped in to help with the project. Several of Rising Hope’s congregation that are students at Ball State University also showed up for the work day. The team is excited to finish up this project in the next few weeks so they can move from the middle school into their permanent home. Thank you to each of our churches who are praying, giving and volunteering to help this new church get off the ground!
Many of you have heard of the devastating cyclone that ravaged northern Mozambique. General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt has issued a call to activate WERF, the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund. Mozambique is one of the two mission fields that the Crossroads District has been partnering with in recent years. Our district Global Partners co-leaders, Rev. David Hines and Rev. Steve Mathews, are challenging us to respond to this urgent need and will be releasing matching funds at churches give. You’ll receive a further communication from our office later this week, but begin now praying about how your church can respond to this crisis.
Registrations for ReEquip 2019 are running ahead of last year. There’s still time to sign up and bring your lay leaders for inspiration and ministry training in the breakout sessions for youth, children, worship and multicultural ministries. Spanish language translation services will be provided. (Se prestarán servicios de traducción al español.)
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, March 17, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Jarod Osborne and the team at Warsaw Pathway Church and preaching in both of their morning worship services. These are exciting days at Pathway with more than 30 people responding to an altar call last weekend to become missionaries in their community. Pastor Jarod leads a young and gifted staff who are committed to making a difference among the 52,000 people who are still unreached in Warsaw and Kosciusko County.
Sunday evening, I met with the LBA at Gas City Southside Wesleyan Church as they voted unanimously to recommend an extended call for Pastor Brent Miller. Pastor Brent and Naomi are making a difference in turning the church outward to serving Gas City.
Last Monday, after completing the Team Update, I was in Marion to check in with Roxene Lo at her office and then I met with a prospective church planter over lunch. Tuesday morning, I met with our district staff at Abbey Coffee and then connected with Pastor Mark Atkinson in Gas City for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Andy Cole, Tim Johnson and I met in Anderson for an update on the revitalization project that he’s leading at Lapel Daybreak. Tim is a key leader serving alongside Pastor Andy. It was an encouraging progress report of how the church is rebounding and will be adding an additional worship service leading up to Easter Sunday. Tuesday evening, I met with Pastor Calimerio Rodriguez (Frankfort Templo de Poder) and a prospective church planter in Frankfort. Pray that God will open the right door for a possible Hispanic church planter in Lafayette.
Wednesday morning, I was in Fishers to met with Chris Classen, the new executive pastor at McCordsville Harvest Church. Pastor John Freed (Waterline Church) and I met over lunch for our annual coaching conversation. These are exciting days at Waterline as they’ve successfully launched their first campus in Pendleton. Pastor John Miller and I met in Avon for an update on the progress of planting Way City Church and then I met with a young pastor who is prayerfully considering coming into The Wesleyan Church. My last meeting on Wednesday was with Pastor Neftali Lopez as we signed some property documents for Carmel Amistad Iglesia Wesleyana.
Thursday morning, I joined Rev. Williams, Assistant DS, at Plymouth Wesleyan Church as Chris led the Region 3 spring gathering. Dr. Ollie Dongell and his team are always gracious hosts for this gathering and there was a strong showing of pastors from across the region. Pastor Johnnie Blair brought an inspiring update on the progress they’re making at Tipton Trinity as the church has refocused on the Harvest and is preparing to launch their first campus in Kokomo.
Thursday afternoon, I was back in Marion to meet with Rev. Juden Sia, one of the district superintendents of the Zambia Wesleyan Church. My last meeting of the day was with Rev. Ben Parker and the LBA at Fairmount Back Creek Wesleyan Church. The LBA unanimously affirmed Rev. Parker’s extended call. I also dropped in to see their “Dinner & A Movie” event that they were hosting in their fellowship hall. This has become a positive opportunity for connecting the families in their church and inviting guests.
Friday morning, I connected with Rev. Paul James, lead consultant, and the Maximizing Impact team who were in serving at Albion Cornerstone Wesleyan Church. Pastor Dale Munsell and his team received the team’s report on Sunday morning and Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, will be back in two weeks to host their town hall meeting.
Friday afternoon, I met with Rev. Kory Christensen at New Haven Impact Church for our annual coaching conversation. Impact Church is one of our younger congregations and I was encouraged to hear more about their commitment to discipleship and significant community engagement.
Friday evening, Sherry joined me as we attended the Senior Adult Ministry (SAM) Banquet at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. They had a great turnout for the meal and special presentation by Gary Varvel, awarding winning editorial cartoonist. Congratulations to Randall Hudson and his team for hosting this wonderful event.
Saturday morning, I was able to connect briefly with Pastor John & Danielle Freed in Fishers as they led our Church Planters Boot Camp hosted at Wesleyan Headquarters. John and Danielle do a great job leading prospective planters through this strategic planning process.
Dr. Richard Schenck and the Region 2 DBMD were also meeting on Saturday so I joined them in the afternoon for licensed minister interviews at the Indiana Wesleyan University North Indy campus. We have amazing leaders answering God’s call to ministry and I am grateful for the many DBMD team members who invest significant time and energy in this important development process.
Highlights this week will include the Region 1 meeting on Monday morning at The River Church in Marion led by Pastor Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS. It’s always encouraging to connect with our pastors and hear the stories of how God is moving to change lives.
I’m also looking forward to hosting a connection event for our BiVo (Bi-vocational) pastors on Saturday morning, March 23, at the Branch Coffee Shop in Fairmount (from 10:30 to 1, with lunch provided). Many of our pastors have additional employment responsibilities that preclude their participation in weekday gatherings so this is an opportunity for them to gather for fellowship, encouragement, learning, and support. If you’re planning to join us and still need to RSVP, please email Seth@CrossroadsDistrict.org).
I received notice of the unanimous vote at Lifeway Wesleyan Church in Fort Wayne for another 4-year call for Rev. Rick Fletcher to continue as senior pastor and a 98% positive vote for Rev. Andrew Jellison to become Associate Pastor in the LBA-recommended succession plan. Congratulations to both Pastor Rick and Pastor Andy on this strong vote of affirmation of their ministry and future transition.
Congratulations also to Rev. Dr. Jim Dunn, a ministerial member of our Crossroads District team, on his selection by the Board of Trustees to become the next president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Dr. Dunn will be the sixth president of OKWU as he succeeds Dr. Everett Piper this summer. I have every confidence that Dr. Dunn will do a terrific job at OKWU building on the amazing turnaround led by Dr. Piper.
Our prayers and sympathies are extended to the family of Rev. Art O’Dell who passed away on March 15. Rev. O’Dell was Rev. Mark Schnell’s father-in-law. Mark and Sharie, Art’s daughter, serve our Albion Wesleyan Church. Here’s the link for Art’s obituary and the funeral arrangements for the services to be held later this week in Michigan:
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. Don’t miss out on ReEquip 2019, April 6 at Brookhaven Church! Register here
Last week kicked off with Exponential in Orlando. I flew down on Monday for an evening event hosted by The Wesleyan Church which featured presentations by multipliers from across our movement. The Crossroads District was well represented that evening with Danielle and John Freed serving on one of the panels.
More than 400 Wesleyans gathered at Exponential this year making us one of the largest groups represented at this national conference. Tuesday morning, Dr. Wayne Schmidt and Dr. Ed Love rallied our team in a pre-conference event with the call to sharpen our focus on making disciples and multiplying congregations to close the Gospel gap. We are making progress but the need has been expanding faster than we’ve been planting.
The regular conference began at noon on Tuesday and concluded at noon on Thursday. The Crossroads District had more than 50 participants so Assistant DS Chris Williams, District Multiplication Director Michael Hewitt, and Seth Bye hosted a supper event for our team in Disney Springs on Wednesday evening. The largest delegation from our district came with Pastor Terry Vaughn and The Bridge Urban Church in South Bend.
In addition to a strong turnout in Orlando, several of our pastors took time to watch the event free online. I flew back early on Wednesday and also watched from home. We will have the digital all-access pass available at the district office if you were unable to attend Exponential 2019 and would like to watch the sessions.
Thursday, I was in Marion for a lunch meeting with a prospective pastor before meeting with a potential church planter and his sending church pastor. Friday morning, I was in Indianapolis to meet with an out-of-state pastor who is feeling called to inner city ministry. Friday afternoon, I stopped by Brookhaven Church to extend condolences on behalf of our district family to Pastor Rob Tippey on the passing of his grandfather, Dr. Byron Tippey. The memorial service was held at Brookhaven on Saturday morning.
Friday evening, Sherry and I hosted the pastors and spouses from the Fort Wayne Zone. We had a great time of fellowship and prayer with these leaders. We also talked about potential church planting partnerships ahead for greater Fort Wayne.
Saturday morning, I joined Assistant DS Mike Colaw as he convened the pastors of Region 2 for a delicious breakfast followed by encouraging time of worship and fellowship. It was exciting to hear about the doors for ministry that God is opening in the inner city, in prisons, in schools and in nursing homes. I celebrate the spiritual entrepreneurship and collaboration that is being unleashed as we step out in faith to follow Christ into His harvest field here in Indiana. Special thanks to Pastor Colaw and his team (especially Barb) for graciously hosting!
This weekend marked our 35th Anniversary so Sherry and I drove to Grand Rapids on Saturday evening to be with some of our children and with Rev. Steve and Beth (Gorveatte) Jones, my sister and her husband. We were married on March 10, 1984 and they were married on March 10, 1986. Sunday morning was a special highlight for us as we worshiped at Journey Church in Caledonia, Michigan. Sherry and I had the joy of helping to launch Journey Church in our living room while I was serving as District Superintendent in West Michigan. Now, Joel (our youngest son) serves on staff at Journey with founding pastor Rev. Jon Allen. Joel brought the morning message and Christie, his wife, led the worship team. We are thankful for all of God’s blessings but nothing means more to us than watching our children follow God.
The countdown is on to ReEquip (April 6), the Prayer Retreat (April 12-13) and Easter (April 21). We are delighted to welcome Rev. Mike & Tina Hilson as our guest speakers at ReEquip. God has been working through them to write a miracle story at the New Life Network in LaPlata, Maryland. We also have breakout sessions planned for your children and youth workers all together at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion, so please don’t come alone. Register your group today!
This is pastoral vote season in our district and I received word that Winchester Wesleyan Church voted unanimously yesterday for Pastor Randy Yaryan to continue his service for another four years. Dr. Jim Lo has been leading a revitalization initiative at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church which included a succession plan. Yesterday, Parkview Wesleyan Church voted unanimously to call Rev. Jeremy Armiger as their next lead pastor. Dr. Jim Lo has agreed to join Jeremy’s staff as they continue moving the church forward in reaching their community for Christ. Pictured below is Dr. Lo and the congregation praying over the Armigers as they accepted this call to lead.
Please remember our Church Planters Boot Camp in your prayers this week (Friday and Saturday in Fishers). Pastor John and Danielle Freed do a terrific job in helping our prospective planters develop strategic plans for effectively making disciples and establishing new churches among unreached people in our mission field. Pray that God will anoint and empower these sessions!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Duane and JoEllen Seitz at Silver Lake Wesleyan Church for their Friend Day. Pastor Duane received and accepted a new 4-year call to serve this rural congregation. When some people might be relaxing and enjoying their retirement years, Rev. Seitz has been leading this turnaround project with vision and sacrifice. Last year, Pastor Duane personally knocked on the doors of every one of the 364 homes in town to offer to pray for them. This year, Pastor Duane is starting out on a second round of door-to-door visitation to share the plan of salvation. Following the service, we shared in the fellowship meal and then I led a brief meeting with the LBA. Another praise point was the generous $365 offering Silver Lake gave at Christmas to participate in our Bangladesh partnership.
Last Monday, Seth Bye led a Young Leaders Listening Tour at The Branch Coffee Shop in Fairmount to learn how our Crossroads District can better serve pastors and staff members who are starting out in their ministry journey. Chris Williams was assisting Seth and I was able to sit in on part of their meeting. The future is bright with leaders like these joining the team.
Tuesday morning began with our office staff meeting at The Abbey Coffee in Marion before I headed out to Muncie to meet with Rev. Paul Walden (Muncie 18th Street Wesleyan) for our annual conversation. I was also able to connect with Pastor Mike Hewitt while in Muncie and rejoiced with him over the Ball State student that he led to Christ on Monday evening. My last meeting of the day was in Avon at Nehemiah Church for a meeting with Pastor Ben Thomas and his leadership team.
Wednesday morning, I met with Pastor Steve DeNeff (College Wesleyan Church) for our annual coaching conversation before heading over to the World Changers Convocation honoring Ernie Johnson, Jr., at Indiana Wesleyan University. Over lunch, Pastor Tony Bye (Brookhaven Wesleyan Church) connected for our annual coaching conversation. Wednesday afternoon, Calebb Proehl and I met over coffee. Calebb (yes, it is spelled with “bb”) is our newest team member who is transferring to us from the Nazarene Church to lead the student ministries at The River Church. My last meeting of the day was a coaching conversation with Pastor Steve Colter (Chapel Pike Wesleyan).
Thursday was a long but productive day. I drove to Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio for the next installment in the ELEVATE leadership development initiative that we’re sharing in the Heartland Region. Pastor Ken Murphy and his team were gracious hosts for the event and Ken shared powerful lessons for church leaders.
Following the ELEVATE sessions, I spent another 3 hours with the other district superintendents in our Heartland Region before heading home. Plans are coming together for next year’s Heartland Regional Gathering in Pigeon Forge. Please mark your calendar for March 10-12, 2020 and plan to join us!
Friday morning, I met with Pastor Duane Seitz in Marion for our annual coaching conversation. Friday afternoon, Assistant DS Chris Williams and I met for our weekly check in before a busy weekend that had Chris and Matthew Trexler leading a StratOp refresher for the team at Fountain City Wesleyan Church.
Friday evening, Sherry and I had the special privilege of welcoming Rev. Michele Henry, our Crossroads District Children’s Minister Director and a wonderful group of 14 children’s ministry leaders from across our district. I appreciated this opportunity to hear what they’re learning as they’re ministering to the next generation and the families of our churches. It was a blessing to be able to say “thank you” to these leaders and to share in worship and prayer together.
Saturday, I was in South Bend to meet with Rev. Terry and Lennaire Vaughn, our church planters who are preparing to launch The Bridge Urban Church. They’ve been diligently looking for options for space in which to launch this exciting new ministry. After knocking on many doors, they were excited to show me the space that God has opened up for them at the Century Center convention hall. The space is great and the lease was very reasonable.
They were able to meet there this weekend with their team. The launch is being planned with a special kickoff in partnership with Pastor Troy Evans and the artistic team from The Edge for a “Love Your City” event in May. Pray that God will continue to grant them favor for this disciple-making ministry focused on youth in the city center.
I left South Bend in time to stop in Elkhart to connect with Pastor Guerrero and the team at Cielos Abiertos Wesleyan Church. They were hosting their first youth group connection at their home. I enjoyed meeting these students and telling them about the ministry training and camping opportunities that our district offers. Pastor Guerrero is also working with a home Bible study group in South Bend that may become the base camp for another Hispanic church plant. Praise God for these steps of progress!
Rev. Joe Jackson received a unanimous call to become the next pastor at Anderson United Wesleyan Church, succeeding Rev. Clifton Ashlock who will be retiring this summer. We’re looking forward to welcoming the Jackson family back to the Crossroads District.
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to the family of Dr. Byron Tippey, grandfather of Pastor Rob Tippey. Dr. Tippey was an exemplary lay leader in our Crossroads District serving on boards in his local church, the district and the general church level. From 1963 to 1987, Dr. Tippey was a valued faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University. A funeral notice was sent to our district team and the full obituary may be found online: Dr. Byron Tippey obituary
Pray for the 50+ leaders from our Crossroads District who will be attending the Exponential Conference in Orlando. More than 400 Wesleyan leaders are registered for this premiere event focused on church multiplication.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts!
Your servant in Christ,