Rev. Marc and Heather Ulrich lead ReThink Church, the Merrillville church planting project that they launched in partnership with the Crossroads District back in 2016. Merrillville has not been an easy place to plant, with several other church plants closing around them in the past five years. But Marc and Heather have been persistent in chasing the vision of disciples making disciples, not just producing a Sunday morning event.
Both Marc and Heather are deeply involved in community public schools and continue to see fruit from their prayers and consistent witness. They have been training leaders and are ready to launch three new neighborhood-based micro-churches. Sunday morning will continue to be the rallying points for these teams of neighborhood missionaries. Please keep Marc, Heather, (Shad and Carson) and the ReThink Church in your prayers!
Sunday evening, I had the privilege of installing Trevor O’Dell as the new pastor at Lancaster Wesleyan Church. Trevor is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and recently completed his ministry residence with Pastor Michael Hewitt at Rising Hope Church in Muncie. It was a delight to have Rev. Steve O’Dell, Trevor’s father, and Rev. Mark Schnell, Trevor’s uncle, to join us for this special service. After the service, the leadership team hosted a time of fellowship with Trevor’s family in the community room. (One fun fact that I learned yesterday was that Rev. Marc Ulrich was Trevor’s youth pastor at Woodland Church in Battle Creek, Michigan.) We’re excited to see what God has in store for Trevor, Ally and Joseph, their son, as they join the wonderful folks at Lancaster Wesleyan in reaching their community for Christ.
Last week included coaching conversations on Wednesday with Rev. Jarod Osborne (Warsaw Pathway) and Rev. Kory Christensen (New Haven Impact), and on Thursday with Pastor Scott McDermid (Sheridan Six Point Church). I chaired the LBA meeting at Hartford City Wesleyan Church on Thursday evening and participated in a specially-called session of the General Board’s Executive Committee on Monday afternoon. Please join in prayer as preparations are made for the in-person General Board meeting coming up on May 4-5.
This past weekend, including Palm Sunday, was a time for community outreach, baby dedications, and baptisms for our congregations. Sheridan Six Points was one of those churches that was able to host an Easter egg hunt in the beautiful weather we had on Saturday. They had a great turnout on Saturday with a good number of the children back to participate on Palm Sunday.
Pastor John Hannan and the team at CrossRoads Church in Union City took over Main Street with a Palm Sunday reenactment. The processional concluded at their church building with 37 children participating in this creative outreach. I celebrate our pastors and leadership teams who are willing to try “anything short of sin” to connect with people and build bridges for sharing the Good News!
Pastor Kory Christensen and the team at Impact Church in New Haven had a wonderful day of celebration with five families presenting six children for dedication and one for baptism. Praise the Lord for families who prioritize the faith development of their children.
The most important job of parenting is discipling your children to follow Jesus. There is a special joy for pastors when they have the privilege of baptizing their children who are publicly confessing their faith in Christ. Pastor Zach and Pastor Carla Working (Huntington Hope Rising) had that privilege yesterday as Emma took this step of faithful obedience. They were also encouraged by worship attendance with 97 adults and 34 children present for Palm Sunday.
Special Invitation: All local church pastors in the Crossroads District will be joining together this Thursday, April 1, 8:00 p.m. for our Easter weekend ZOOM prayer meeting. We have a few key announcements when we first connect at 8 and then we’ll be breaking out in prayer groups to intercede on behalf of our Easter weekend ministries. Pastors will be receiving the Zoom link via email.
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom this Easter week!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, I had the unique opportunity of worshiping with two of our congregations in neighboring communities. Lapel and Fishersburg share everything including the gas station, the post office, and their public schools. I joined Rev. Duane Summitt and the folks at Fishersburg Wesleyan Church for their service. Pastor Duane gave me a warm welcome and put me to work leading the congregational singing. Rev. Summitt is another of our district's many committed bi-vocational pastors.
Following that first service, I drove across town to Lapel Daybreak Church in time to hear Pastor Andy Cole preach a challenging message. After the service, it was good to catch up with retired pastor Rev. Richard Cole and to tour the remodeling project that they are close to completing. Driving away from these two different experiences, I was reminded again that it will take all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people among the 3 million yet to be reached here in Indiana.
Monday morning, I dropped in on the Region 1 Leadership Cohort that Pastor Matthew Trexler (Region 1 Assistant DS) is leading at The River in Marion. It is great to see these leaders encouraging and cheering one another on in ministry. Rev. Clifton Ashlock and I reconnected over lunch. Clifton is semi-retired but stays active in DBMD and supply preaching for our churches. My last meeting of the day was with Rev. Bob McHenry who is leading the turnaround project at Marion Nelson Street. I was glad to hear that he’s providing opportunities for IWU students to preach and complete practicum requirements under his mentoring.
Tuesday began with a special visit to Rev. Matthew Stewart (soon to be Dr. Stewart) who both leads the Sweetser Wesleyan Church and also teaches as an adjunct for IWU. It was a delight to connect with Matthew and the students in his Wesleyan Church History class. After class, I jumped online to participate in the monthly board meeting for Wesleyan Village in Brooksville, Florida. Dr. Don Maness is the president of Wesleyan Village and I deeply respect his leadership in this challenging season of ministry.
My commitments precluded me from being part of the Region 2 leadership event hosted on Tuesday morning by Rev. Mike Colaw (Region 2 Assistant DS) at Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church. Seth, Carla, and Woody were able to take in this event featuring worship led by the Trinity team and an excellent presentation from Dr. Dan Poff (professor at IWU).
Thank you to the pastors and spouses who joined us on Tuesday afternoon to support Rev. Allen Laws (pastor of Warren Wesleyan Church) at the funeral for Cheryl, his beloved wife. The service was held at the Jonesboro campus of Eastview Wesleyan. Allen and Cheryl (Richards) Laws had been active at Gas City Eastview Church before entering pastoral ministry. Special thanks to the Eastview team members who rallied around the Laws and Richards family. Please continue to support Pastor Allen and his family in your prayers.
Wednesday included an opportunity to meet with Rev. Jason Tash, one of our district StratOp facilitators. Jason’s full-time work is with Destiny Rescue but he graciously continues to serve our district churches by facilitating these weekend planning retreats. I was also able to connect with the leadership team at the Avon Nehemiah Church via Zoom on Wednesday evening. Rev. Seth Bye has been a great help to the church serving as their supply pastor through this time of transition.
Thursday, I joined our team online for District Conference 2022 planning. Please mark your calendars for June 25-26, Friday-Saturday. We will be convening at the IWU Chapel for the Friday evening ordination service and the Saturday conference sessions. Dr. Steve Bray (LifeSpring Church) and I met in Richmond over lunch for our annual coaching conversation. These are good days at LifeSpring with wonderful stories of life transformation.
Thursday afternoon, I joined with my DS colleagues in the Heartland Region as the planning moves forward for our next regional gathering in Pigeon Forge, TN on March 29-31, 2022. The response to our last regional gathering was overwhelmingly positive and we’re looking forward to another encouraging event with our neighboring districts. It is a joy to work with these colleagues!
Thursday evening, the district nominating committee reconvened. We met last year just before the pandemic lockdown began. With the postponement of last year’s general and district conference, the committee had some additional work to complete. Thank you to Cindy Horn and the team at Gas City Eastview for hosting our meeting.
Friday included two helpful meetings in the morning but the highlight of the day definitely was hosting our Spanish-speaking pastors and their spouses for an evening of fellowship at our home in Upland. It was a blessing to host these 22 brothers and sisters who are serving so effectively across our district. Praise the Lord that He is raising up leaders and opening doors for more church planting among our Spanish-speaking neighbors!
Many of you have been joining me in prayer for pastoral transitions. We know that few decisions in the life of a congregation are more significant than the calling of a new pastor. God has been answering those prayers as two of our churches have voted to call new pastors and have announced the acceptance of their call. Rev. Martin Furrow has accepted the call to move from being the assistant pastor to becoming the lead pastor at Rochester The Cross, following the upcoming retirement of Rev. Mike Cloud. Join us in praying for God’s blessing on Pastor Martin and Misty Furrow.
Indianapolis Southview Wesleyan Church is delighted to announce that Rev. Nathan Richardson has accepted their call to become their next pastor, following the retirement of Rev. Rick Matthews. This past year, after seven years of effective ministry in Iowa, Nathan and Jennifer have been actively involved at Greentown Wesleyan Church, Jenny’s home church. We’re glad to welcome them back home to Indiana and pray for God’s blessing as they prepare to lead the team at Southview Wesleyan in a new chapter of Kingdom impact.
We are rejoicing this week with Pastor Matthew Stewart and the team at Sweetser Wesleyan Church as they celebrated a wonderful story of life transformation and a public profession of faith in baptism yesterday! I know many of our churches are planning baptism services in the next few weeks. Please do pass along stories and photos so we can celebrate with you!
Just a gentle reminder that we are hosting an “All Pastors” prayer gathering on Thursday evening, April 1, at 8:00 p.m. to cover our Easter weekend services in a shared time of intercession. We’ll gather online first as an entire district team and then break out into smaller groups for specific points of prayer. Thank you in advance for making this a priority.
My devotional reading this morning included 1st Samuel 14:6 (NLT) with these encouraging words: “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few.” God moved on behalf of Jonathan and his armor bearer that day and they were victorious although outnumbered 10 to 1. Let’s move forward in faith this week to press the battle for the souls of the 3 million in our harvest field!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
One of the highlights of our district partnership with local churches is providing a pathway of preparation for those who are answering the call of God. The DBMD (District Board of Ministerial Development) receives candidates who are recommended by their local church as possessing the grace, gifts, and fruit of one called to the ministry of Word and sacrament. The journey of these called individuals includes ministry experiences, academic preparation, and careful examination each year by the DBMD. The process culminates in the DBMD’s recommendation for ordination. The General Superintendent, assisted by the Ordination Council, conducts the ordination service on behalf of the entire denominational family of The Wesleyan Church.
Last evening, General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt led us in the ordination of Rev. Elizabeth Rhyno, assistant pastor at Fishers Waterline Church. General Superintendent Emerita Dr. JoAnne Lyon, one of Elizabeth’s valued mentors, offered the prayer of enduement. Rev. Rhyno completed her preparation and was originally approved for ordination last summer. At that time, Elizabeth was caring for her ailing mother in Canada and pandemic restrictions at the border precluded her participation. The ordination service hosted last evening by Waterline Church at Wesleyan Headquarters was a beautiful celebration of God’s calling women and men to leadership in the Church.
Sunday afternoon, I met with Pastor Joe Jackson and the LBA at Anderson United Wesleyan Church as they prepare for their vote on the renewal of call. Pastor Jackson and his team were still celebrating that morning’s service in which they welcomed 16 new members!
Sunday morning, I enjoyed being part of the team at Hartford City Wesleyan Church where I’m serving in a limited capacity as their interim pastor. In addition to hosting the service and leading in the Lord’s Supper, they also let me sit in with the worship team band. We were delighted to welcome Rev. Mark Schnell as our guest speaker yesterday in our “Through the Bible in a Year” series. We are also pleased to announce the Rev. Schnell has agreed to join the Hartford City team beginning in April as our Pastor of Preaching and Congregational Care. Mark and Sharie Schnell are both gifted leaders and will make a significant impact on this ministry. Mark will continue to teach ministry classes for Indiana Wesleyan University.
While I am always excited to get back on the road working with our team here in the Crossroads District, it was great to take a week of vacation with Sherry as we celebrated our 37th anniversary in Florida. We shared supper with Pastor David and Suzanne Cox (Laketon Wesleyan) who were also vacationing at Brooksville, spent time with my father and his wife, reconnected with Dr. John and Patty Bray at their new home in Parrish, FL and worshiped at The Church Experience with Rev. Brandon and Jennifer (Dongell) Bruce. Jennifer is Dr. Oliver Dongell’s daughter (Ollie pastors Plymouth Wesleyan). Sandy beaches and sunny skies are a great way to unwind.
Our pastors are running hard but it is also important for all of us to take time to recharge our batteries. There are still a few matching grants available for our pastors to participate in our Rest Well Initiative: https://www.crossroadsdistrict.org/restwellinitiative.html
Praise the Lord for more reports of lives being #madenew! Pastor Mark and the team at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan are celebrating stories of redemption with two more baptisms on Sunday, March 14.
Pastor Oliver Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church are celebrating the redemption stories of six men who were baptized last Sunday, March 7. Pictured below are five of those new brothers in Christ!
There is still time for your team to plan a baptism service at your church for people who come to Christ in this Easter season. Please share those stories and pictures so we can pass them along to the team.
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to Rev. Allen Laws and his family on the passing of his wife, Mrs. Cheryl Laws. Funeral arrangements were shared with our pastors over the weekend. We will gather on Tuesday, March 16, 1 p.m., at the Jonesboro campus of Eastview Wesleyan Church to celebrate Cheryl’s life and to share our resurrection hope. Visitation with the family will be from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the church.
Our congratulations to Rev. David and Rev. Emily Hines on the arrival last week of the newest member of our Crossroads District pastoral family, Petra Anastasia Hines. Emily serves on the District Board of Administration and she and David are both members of the staff team at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church.
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom of God!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, February 28, I had the privilege of worshiping at Columbia City New Hope Church with Pastor Shane and Jill Wilson. There was a wonderful spirit of worship in both the 9 and 10:30 gatherings and I enjoyed preaching to this responsive congregation. Their “in person” Sunday services are rebounding with 60 percent or more of their pre-pandemic attendance. Pastor Shane has done a remarkable job of leading the congregation, first through the leadership transition from Jason Tash and now through the pandemic. New Hope Church has a vibrant and community-impacting ministry.
Elkhart Cielos Abiertos Iglesia Wesleyana had a beautiful service of commissioning on Sunday afternoon as Pastor Eliorgy and Zoriada Guerrero passed the mantle of leadership to Jose and Angiee Cardenas. I was blessed to be part of this commissioning service and to bring a message from God’s Word. Rev. and Mrs. Guerrero will be moving to Tennessee and are in contact with DS Aaron Sherman about planting a church in Chattanooga. The Guerrero’s planted this church in Elkhart three years ago and then commissioned Pastor Ruben and Susana Santos to plant a new church in South Bend just this past year before answering God’s call to Tennessee. They have another couple in the Elkhart congregation that is answering the call to church planting and prayerfully seeking God’s direction for open doors. This service was a beautiful demonstration of an Acts 13 moment in a multiplying church!
Sunday evening, I enjoyed meeting with Rev. Don Bayne and the LBA at New Carlisle Wesleyan Church, on the west side of South Bend. Pastor Bayne has served effectively at New Carlisle for 26 years. He is both loved and respected by his leadership team. Their next baptism service is planned for this coming Sunday!
Last week’s schedule included coaching conversations on Tuesday and Wednesday with Rev. Tony Bye (Marion Brookhaven Church), Rev. Steve Colter (Marion Chapel Pike), and Rev. Brad LeRoy (McCordsville Harvest Church). While I was at Brookhaven, I had a chance to speak with Rev. Michelle Henry who was celebrating 77 children present on Sunday morning, more than they were averaging pre-pandemic. Churches that regather well will be making youth and children’s ministry a high priority.
Monday morning, I joined Rev. Luis Martinez and the team at Impacto for an online staff retreat. It would certainly have been more enjoyable to spend time with them in Guatemala, but I was glad to be able to share a seminar with them from Galatians 6:9 on faithfulness in ministry. Adam and Stacy Griner, also from our Crossroads District, led music for worship.
Monday evening, I was glad to meet with Rev. Jarod Osborne and the LBA at Warsaw Pathway Community Church. Pastor Jarod leads a strong team with a great heart for the community. I am grateful for the many outstanding lay leaders who invest in the life and ministry of our churches.
I drove out to St. Louis on Wednesday evening for a series of sessions with district superintendent colleagues on Thursday and Friday. These are challenging days in our culture and the church is not immune to the conflict and controversies around us. We were blessed to have General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt join us for most of our Friday morning session. We concluded our time together with prayer for Dr. Schmidt and by participating in Holy Communion.
I came away encouraged by the unwavering commitment to our Articles of Religion and the other doctrinal statements of our church. There is no question that our resolve will be tested in the years ahead, but we stand on solid Biblical theology and orthodox moral principles. We are bound together in the vision of making disciples and multiplying gatherings to spread hope and holiness that transforms lives, churches, and communities.
The memorial passed by our DBA last month was evidence of our desire to be proactive rather than reactive. There is no legislation proposed anywhere in the church to change our doctrinal positions. Our goal is simply to create maximum incentive for our beloved denomination to stay faithful in the face of enormous societal pressure to compromise in the future. Let’s work and pray to that end!
In other news across the district family, Pastor Dan Clark received and accepted a four-year renewal of call from the unanimous vote of the members at Monon Wesleyan Church. We are grateful for Dan’s willingness to faithfully preach the Word and serve well even while undergoing cancer treatment.
Rev. Josh Bowlin was selected as the next senior pastor for Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church upon the retirement of Rev. Steve Colter at the end of the church conference year in 2022. This is part of a succession plan developed by Rev. Colter and the LBA last fall. Rev. Bowlin came to Christ through the ministry of Chapel Pike, was mentored by Rev. Colter, served with Global Partners, and currently serves on staff at East City Wesleyan Church in Auckland, New Zealand. Rev. Bowlin and his family will come on staff at Chapel Pike in January and then he will be installed as Senior Pastor on April 24, 2022. We are excited to welcome the Bowlins back home to the Crossroads District and congratulate Chapel Pike on this important step in the succession process.
We’re rejoicing this week with Pastor Dan Fisher and the team at Delphi Wesleyan Church as they celebrated four baptisms on Sunday morning. Praise God for lives being #madenew!
We are also rejoicing with Richmond LifeSpring Church as they celebrated 11 baptisms last weekend. Six of those were at the South Campus and five were at the North Campus. I’m glad that Covid-19 cannot stop the forward progress of God’s Kingdom!
Congratulations to Rev. Calimerio and Maria Rodriguez (Frankfort Templo de Poder) on the arrival of their first granddaughter, Linora, born to Mikayla and Ezequiel (their son) Rodriguez this weekend!
Congratulations to Rev. Shawnda Dykhoff Bilbee (pastor of Brinker Heights Wesleyan Church) on her wedding this past Saturday to Mr. Kyle Bilbee with Rev. Mark Atkinson (Eastview Wesleyan) officiating. Shawnda is also the daughter of another Crossroads District pastor, Rev. Ken Dykhoff (on staff with Mark at Eastview Wesleyan).
Please continue to pray for Pastor Allen Laws as he cares for Cheryl, his wife, at home. Her medical condition is not improving and we are joining them seeking God for His grace and strength.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent