Praise the Lord for a glorious EASTER 2022!
This was the first pandemic restriction-free Easter we have celebrated together since 2019 and I’m hearing encouraging reports coming in from across our district team. Sherry and I worshiped together with Assistant DS Matthew Trexler at The River Church in Marion for their 7 a.m. sunrise service before I turned south to check in on more of our churches. My next stop was in Tipton where I was able to pray with Rev. Logan Westrick at Ash Street Wesleyan Church before joining Rev. Johnnie Blair and his team at Trinity Wesleyan Church as they welcomed a full house for the first of two worship services.
My next check-in was with Rev. Scott McDermid and his team at Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church where their 10 a.m. service was underway. They were still welcoming guests and adding chairs in the foyer as I arrived. Total attendance for the morning was 251!
From there, I headed back east back to Cicero United Family Church to greet Rev. Allen Gross and his team just before they began their 10:30 service. Attendance was at full capacity and the children were eagerly looking forward to the Easter egg hunt that was to follow the service.
My last stop of the day was with Rev. Andy Riemersma and the team at Westfield ONE Church, our newest congregation. One of the highlights of the morning was seeing Rev. Ernest Batman, our former and the oldest living DS, worshiping at ONE Church with three generations of his family, including Mr. Kevin Batman, General Treasurer and member of the launch team.
There were so many highlights from last week that I hardly know where to start. Perhaps the most notable event that I was able to be part of was the combined Good Friday service provided by the Wesleyan churches of Madison County. This inaugural event was hosted by Rev. Joe Jackson and the United Wesleyan Church congregation.
The service included pastors and worship leaders from Elwood Main Street Wesleyan, Pendleton Autumn Hills, Anderson Circle of Hope, Anderson Lone Oak, North Anderson Wesleyan Church, Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan, and Anderson United Wesleyan. The service also included Spanish-language translation with participation from Iglesia Unida Wesleyana, the Hispanic congregation that is part of Anderson United. This was the first time these Madison County churches have collaborated for a Good Friday service but plans are already underway for next year.
My heart is overflowing as I review the reports from this past week. For example, Rev, Lyle Breeding and his team at Bluffton Sonlight started Easter week by celebrating 5 baptisms last weekend!
Rev. Dr. Steve Bray and the team at LifeSpring Church in Richmond celebrated 27 baptisms yesterday between their two campuses. This included Rev. Josh Fakhoury, south campus pastor, having the privilege of baptizing his daughter Jenna!
Pastor Neftali Lopez and Carmel Amistad Cristiana celebrated the baptism of a grandmother. Her daughters and grandchildren joined in the celebration.
Rev. Dr. Chris Williams and his team reported three baptisms at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church with 338 in attendance and at least 1 profession of faith!
Dr. Bob Hallett, interim minister at Anderson Lone Oak Wesleyan Church, reported that they celebrated two baptisms yesterday with 52 in attendance.
Pastor Joe Jackson and the team at Anderson United Wesleyan celebrated 4 professions of faith and 6 baptisms yesterday!
And here are just a few more of the praise reports that are coming in:
Rev. Dr. Steve DeNeff and his team celebrated eight baptisms yesterday at Marion College Wesleyan Church!
Rev. Andy Cole texted to let me know they had 180 in attendance at Lapel Daybreak Community Church with at least 20 people praying to receive Jesus Christ as Lord!
Pastor Dan Fisher and the team at Delphi Wesleyan Church were celebrating 106 people in attendance, their highest worship attendance in the past 15 years!
Pastor Dave Dignal and his team at Edgerton Wesleyan Church welcomed 125 in worship yesterday!
Rev. Dr. Joe Harmon, pastor of New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church, reported 179 in attendance with 4 professions of faith!
Pastor Brent Miller, pastor of Gas City Southside Wesleyan Church shared that they welcomed 102 in attendance with 8 commitments to Christ!
Four quick observations from my visits on Easter Sunday:
For those of you who are able to join us, our next Crossroads District prayer gathering will convene on Sunday, May 8, 6:00 p.m., at Carmel Amistad Christiana Wesleyan Church.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Palm Sunday, April 10, I had the joy of worshiping with Dr. Oliver Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. Pastor Dongell graciously invited me to preach in both services, the more blended one at 9 a.m. and the more contemporary service at 10:30. Plymouth Wesleyan incorporated a music presentation from their children’s ministry and preschool in the second service. Between the services, I appreciated the opportunity to connect with members of the LBA. I’m grateful for the effective leadership that Rev. Dr. Dongell has given to Plymouth Wesleyan Church since 2003. We’re praying that God will bless their outreach ministries this Easter weekend.
Traveling on from Plymouth, I joined Pastor Jose Cardenas and the team at Elkhart Cielos Abiertos for their Sunday afternoon worship service. They have relocated to a shared facility and it was my first time to be with them since they moved into this worship center. We were blessed to have Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero, founding pastor, and his wife visiting us from Chattanooga. You may recall that this ministry was originally launched with a group of Venezuelan political asylum seekers. There is always a wonderful spirit of worship in their service and it was an honor to bring the message from God’s Word to this growing congregation.
Sunday evening, the churches of Region 1 were invited to come together for an evening of prayer. This is the fourth monthly united prayer gathering that we’ve held this year. Rev. Matthew Trexler and the team at The River Church in Marion graciously hosted last evening’s gathering. Attendance was strong with participants from at least a dozen churches joining us from as far away as Warsaw, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis. It was a powerful evening of intercession for our churches as we minister this Easter.
Our next district monthly prayer gathering will be on May 8, 6:00 p.m., in Region 2 (greater Indianapolis) hosted by Rev. Neftali Lopez and the team at Carmel Amistad (761 N Rangeline Rd, Carmel, IN 46032) If you’re in the area, we’d love to have you join us.
Last week’s schedule included meetings with district staff and coaching conversations with Rev. Brian Williams (Sims Wesleyan), Rev. Matthew Stewart (Sweetser Wesleyan), Rev. Duane Summitt (Fishersburg Wesleyan), Rev. Brent Miller (Gas City Southside), Rev. Allen Laws (Warren Wesleyan), Rev. Josh Warren and Rev. Dave Cox (Laketon Wesleyan).
Another highlight of the week was our Retired Pastors and Spouses Fellowship on Friday at Wesleyan HQ in Fishers. Our office staff loves hosting these honored guests. Our featured speaker this session was Dr. David Vardaman who has recently retired after many years of effective service teaching at IWU. In addition to his message, we enjoyed a hymn sing and shared in a time of prayer around our tables. It is such an honor to serve these faithful leaders who have contributed more than 1000 years of ministry to Christ and His Kingdom!
Saturday morning at Lakeview Wesleyan Church, our office team provided an orientation session for our delegates elected by our district conference to represent us at the upcoming General Conference in St. Louis, May 22-25. We enjoyed the opportunity to serve our delegates with an overview of the process and discussion around some of the key memorials that will be under consideration.
The General Secretary’s office has posted all of the memorials on the General Conference website (https://www.wesleyan.org/unleashed/memorials). Many of the sessions will be available via livestream so check that conference website for the schedule and other details.
Following the orientation session, I checked in with the Lakeview Wesleyan team who were in downtown Marion providing a servant evangelism outreach. They worked with a local gas station and provided a $1 discount for 1000 gallons of gas.
As the customers were taking advantage of this discount, the members of the Lakeview outreach team engaged them in conversation and invited those without a church home to worship with them at Lakeview on Easter Sunday. The customers enjoyed a nice surprise and the outreach team members had fun serving together and making new connections.
Pastor Steve Colter reported that Marion Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church celebrated three baptisms on Palm Sunday, including Pastor Steve’s own granddaughter Jaylie! Pastor Zach Working had the privilege of baptizing his son, Ezra, on Sunday morning at Huntington Hope Rising Church. Pastor Andy Riemersma and the team at Westfield ONE Church celebrated their first baptism service since launching in January with 5 new believers publicly professing their faith in Christ. Praise God for these lives being #MadeNew!
Continue to pray for our churches in pastoral transition. I received word from Elwood Central Wesleyan Church that they have invited Rev. Jon Noggle to candidate on May 1. Lafayette The Branch had their candidate on April 3 and then voted unanimously yesterday to extend an initial call to Rev. Phil Carder.
Our spring DBA meeting is schedule for April 21 with ordination (June 24) and district conference (June 25) fast approaching. Pray with us for wisdom in the decisions that will come before.
Thank you for making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. – The 2022 FUEL Conference is coming to Muncie next week, April 21-22! Please encourage your youth and children’s ministry leaders to invest in their personal & ministry development by attending. For questions, email District Youth President Jessica Folz at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info on FUEL, visit: www.wesleyan.org/fuel
Church planters are my heroes! Pastor Marc and Heather Ulrich moved to Merrillville, just 30 minutes southeast of Chicago, back in 2016 to plant ReThink Church. They experienced what is sometimes known in church planting circles as a “parachute drop” with no existing core team to help launch the ministry. The Crossroads District, especially Pastor Matthew Trexler’s team at The River Church, backed them with prayer, finances, and the use of an abandoned church building. The Ulrichs faced the daunting task of starting from scratch but they were held steady by their clear calling from God. Today they are celebrating a growing multi-ethnic church that is making disciples who make disciples.
Sherry and I had the privilege of connecting with Pastor Marc and Heather over supper on Saturday evening. They shared the stories of God opening doors in the business community and how they are both now serving in the public schools. Heather works in central services with personnel while Marc teaches life skills and mentors students. Sunday morning, we worshiped with their church family and then hosted the Ulrichs, including their sons Shad and Carson, for lunch. Pray that God will continue to bless this committed church-planting family!
Last week’s schedule included our office staff meeting on Monday, a pastoral care visit to check on Rev. Craig Thurmon in Indy on Tuesday (he’s recovering well), coaching conversations through the week with Rev. Jerry Alexander (Anderson Circle of Hope), Rev. Caleb Wakeman, Rev. Amy Biegel, and Sam Kueraug (Marion The River Church), and Rev. Chuck Moorer (Indianapolis Divine Direction Church).
The district nominating committee met on Tuesday evening at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church. That was a good reminder that our district conference is less than 3 months away. Please plan to join us in Marion on Friday evening, June 24, for the ordination service and on Saturday, June 25, for the conference. We will have a full agenda with reports and action items from our General Conference.
Wednesday afternoon, Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and I went to Westfield for a meeting with Rev. Andy Riemersma and a consultant who helped us explore options for expanding the capacity at the present location for ONE Church. Pastor Andy and his team are encouraged with the progress in these first three months since launch and are making plans for continued growth as God blesses.
Friday morning, I met with John Bonham, administrator, and Rev. John Davey, TIPS interim pastor serving our Hartford City Wesleyan Church, for an update on their pastoral search process. Continue to pray for our congregations who are still seeking God’s direction as they seek new pastoral leadership.
Friday evening, April 1, Sherry and I had the joy of hosting another terrific group of pastors and their spouses in our home. Every one of these evenings is a special time of fellowship but it seems like God is deepening these relationships in our district team as we share one another’s joys and prayer concerns.
Congratulations to Rev. Charlie Alcock and his team at IWU as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of FUSION! I was able to drop in for part of Saturday’s event and there’s nothing like hearing 1000 teenagers lift their voices in worship. Charlie has done an amazing job of developing and empowering the student leadership that pulls off this event each year. This year’s team included 140 IWU student volunteers. Special thanks also to our Crossroads District youth leaders who made it a priority to bring their high school students. Don’t forget that the “Never2Young” event is coming up on May 6 and 7.
I love hearing how God is working across our district family. Here are some examples from this past week:
“Mark, I just want to share what the Lord is doing here in Delphi. We started out in January running a steady 32 in attendance. However, God is on the move and is raising our Lazarus. We have been increasing every Sunday, with new people arriving every week. We have more new people than we have older attendees. Today, we had 68 in attendance, with three families watching on Facebook live. This is merely the result of God showing us grace in answering prayer and fulfilling His promise. It would not surprise me that we will have 100-150 in attendance on Easter. The Lord alone gets all the glory.” – Pastor Dan Fisher, Delphi Wesleyan Church
Pastor Rick Fletcher checked in from Fort Wayne Lifeway reporting an “upswing in attendance and new folks coming to Lifeway–and getting involved. 90 K-6th graders on Wed. nights. Youth attendance is up. God is moving here and we are grateful…three (new) couples are in discipleship, volunteering and reporting to us that they have never before heard about the work of the Holy Spirit and transformation. Being made new!”
Pastor Mike Colaw reported that Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church had 32 new friends attending membership classes last month including their first membership class that was totally in Spanish. “I can’t believe how God is blessing….It’s crazy!”
Let’s praise God for the powerful ways that He is working in our churches and let’s keep praying. Join us this Sunday evening, 6:00 p.m., April 10, at The River Church in Marion for our monthly Crossroads District prayer gathering. We will be focusing this hour of prayer on seeking God’s anointing for the evangelistic opportunities in our Easter weekend services.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. There is still time to register your youth and children's ministry leaders to be part of this helpful gathering on April 21-22 in Muncie, Indiana at Union Chapel Church. Zach Coffin and his team are committed to making this a profitable time of renewal and resourcing. Look here for more info: Fuel