Sunday, May 28, I was privileged to worship with Pastor Mike Colaw and the terrific team at Trinity Wesleyan in Indianapolis. I preached in each of the three worship services at the Allisonville Road campus and then met with the LBA members for a positive review of Pastor Colaw’s extended call. It’s always a joy to be led in worship by Josh Lavender.
These are exciting days as Trinity Church leads the way in making disciples and multiplying congregations. I also appreciate the investment that Pastor Mike makes in serving on the DBA and leading the pastors in Region 2. It was a special treat to meet their newest member of the staff, Sam Linette (Student Pastor), and to meet the newest member of his family, Selah Grace!
Last week began with another successful “Festival of Preaching” hosted by Dr. Steve DeNeff and the team at College Wesleyan Church on Monday and Tuesday. Pastor Steve kicked the event off with a powerful message on the challenge of preaching to the church in exile. The event included strong presenters and diverse perspectives from the panelists. I was encouraged to see a good number of our Crossroads District pastors and staff among the more than 130 participants in this year’s festival.
Coaching conversations last week included Pastor Aaron Lee, Pastor Tom Bradley, Pastor Darrel Herring, Pastor Tim Becker, Pastor Ryan Budde, Pastor Ben Capshaw, Pastor Ben Parker, Pastor Jordan Gardner and Pastor Jeff Luedtke. Our district is blessed with a great team of pastors serving faithfully in a wide variety of contexts. I leave these meetings inspired by the dedication of our pastors who are committed to making disciples and multiplying Kingdom communities.
On Thursday morning, I met with Rev. Chris Williams and the planning team for this year’s district conference which takes place in just 4 weeks. I’m excited not just by the planning but by the prayer focus that is going into this most important gathering on our district calendar.
I trust you were able to have some down time over this Memorial Day weekend. Sherry and I spent a few hours painting in the new district office suite next to Abbey Coffee. The office is on schedule to be completed before district conference and then we’ll transition our finance and data operations there in the last week of June.
Sherry, Jordan and I also made a quick trip to Michigan on Friday and back Saturday for time with our children. With the exception of Josiah who serves a church in Florida, we were blessed to have the rest of the team together for 24 hours. We couldn’t be more proud of these amazing children who love and serve God!
We are so privileged to live in such freedom here in America but this weekend stands as a moving reminder that freedom isn’t free. We owe so much to those who bravely gave their all in defending our liberties. May we honor their sacrifice in grateful lives as one nation under God.
Your servant in Christ,
Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Steve & Paula Arnett at the New Castle Mount Zion Wesleyan Church. After the warm-hearted worship and a challenging message from Pastor Steve on faith, I also met with the LBA. I was excited to learn that Mount Zion will be welcoming 20 new members on June 4. Pastor Steve also serves our district team by leading the Region 2 East Zone. Under his leadership, the zone recommended the Muncie project and planting team.
It was also good to see Dr. Bob & Carol Hallett at Mount Zion Wesleyan. Bob is president of TLC Ministries (to visit Bob’s website, click here: TLC Ministries) that provides stewardship campaign consultations and other services to local churches.
From New Castle to Southview Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis, we received new members and welcomed a wonderful congregation of Chin people from Myanmar into The Wesleyan Church. For the past 6 years, this congregation, known as Shalom Christian Church, has been graciously hosted for worship and fellowship at Southview Wesleyan under the leadership of Pastor Rick Matthews.
After extensive conversations over the past year, their elders voted to request that they be accepted as a Wesleyan congregation. The DBA approved this at our meeting on Thursday so Pastor Rick and I had the privilege of welcoming them as the newest Wesleyan church in the world (or at least Indiana)! Benjamin Tuimuk (pictured) has been appointed as their supply pastor while he continues ordination preparation. We are looking forward to welcoming these new brothers and sisters at the Saturday morning of our district conference (June 24).
Rev. Stephen Nelson represented Indiana Wesleyan University at this event and stayed after the meeting to work with several students interested in studying at IWU.
Sunday evening, I was with Pastor Jerry Alexander and the team at Anderson Central Wesleyan Church for their annual conference. These are exciting days at Central with continued growth in attendance and a bold step of faith in launching a daycare to serve their community.
This new venture was featured on the cover of the Anderson newspaper yesterday and the timing couldn’t be better with the center opening in the next few weeks under the direction of Ms. Brittani Day, a Kingswood University graduate. This is quite an undertaking for a congregation that was averaging less than 30 just two years ago and not without its challenges as they comply with state regulations to provide the best quality care possible for the children in their community. It was good to connect with the new LBA after the conference and assist them as they plan for continued growth.
Last week began with a staff meeting in Marion before heading to Fishers for a meeting with Rev. Ck.K. Chitty, CEO of Hephzibah Children’s Ministries. Monday evening, Dr. Norm Wilson and I met with our Hispanic Zone leaders for Bible study and fellowship. Pastor Neftali Lopez (Carmel Amistad) does a wonderful job as leader of this zone.
Tuesday morning, I met with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, in our Gas City office (Cracker Barrel) before heading north for an annual coaching conversation with David Cox who serves as Supply Pastor at Laketon Wesleyan Church. The church averaged 36 in attendance this year with 2 professions of faith and 1 baptism. David is one of those unsung heroes in the The Wesleyan Church who serves bi-vocationally.
Wednesday, I met with Nancy Schoonmaker, our District Treasurer, as we prepared for the DBA meeting. I participated in a ZOOM meeting that afternoon with Dr. Schmidt and other district superintendents. The last meeting of the day was with Dr. Phil Struckmeyer, church planting guru and longtime friend, as he shared his vision for resourcing urban church planting.
Thursday, the District Board of Administration (DBA) met in Fairmount at “The Branch,” a ministry extension of Fairmount Wesleyan Church. Pastor Jeff Luedtke and his team provided wonderful hospitality with great coffee and freshly-baked cookies. The DBA covered a full agenda that included reviewing church planting projects recommended by the zone pastors in Muncie, Fort Wayne and South Bend.
You’ll be hearing more about these developments at District Conference (June 23-24) but we’re delighted to announce that the DBA approved Mike & Kim Hewitt (Muncie), Roy & Dylana (Fort Wayne), and Terry & Lennaire Vaughn (South Bend – The Bridge Urban Church). We've earmarked funding for a potential project on the east side of Indianapolis and approved welcoming the new Chin congregation (Shalom Christian Center).
Friday morning, Rev. Chris Williams and I were in Anderson to check in on the progress of the daycare project. I met with Pastor Brent Miller for lunch and our annual coaching conversation in Gas City. Brent is providing effective leadership to the turnaround at Southside Wesleyan. Then, on Friday evening, Sherry and I welcomed the pastors and spouses from the Region 3 North Zone to our home. Travel distance and other commitments don’t always make it possible for everyone to attend, but we were delighted to spend a wonderful evening with Pastor Don Bayne (zone chair), Tom & Sarah Cochran, and Mike & Brenda Cloud.
Highlights for this week include the Festival of Preaching at College Wesleyan Church and a round of coaching conversations. I’ll also be meeting with the search committee at Level 13 Church in Fort Wayne. Founding pastor Rob Tippey resigned this weekend and is actively seeking God’s direction for his next ministry. Pastoral transitions are always challenging especially when it is the founding pastor. Please keep Rob and Level 13 in your prayers!
Congratulations to Rev. Ernest Batman, our beloved retired District Superintendent, who turns 90 this Wednesday! He continues to be a blessing to his family, friends and colleagues. I know he’d enjoy hearing from you!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Today, May 15, all reports are due. Thank you in advance for your partnership in completing this important step of stewardship and accountability!
Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Dr. Max & Viola Kingsolver at Michigantown Mt Hope Chapel. Pastor Max is several years past when many would expect to retire but he continues to faithfully serve this loving congregation.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, they had flowers for all the ladies and all the congregational songs were composed by women. (Dr. Kingsolver said he found more than 100 such songs in their hymnal.) Mt Hope Chapel faces the same challenges as many small churches in tiny rural communities but they have a positive attitude and are working together to faithfully proclaim the Gospel to their family and friends.
This was another exciting week in the Crossroads District as we hosted our spring Regional Meetings and launched our new Church Planters Training, affectionally known as Boot Camp.
More than 50 pastors gathered at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion on Monday morning for the Region 1 meeting. Pastor Jason Tash, Assistant DS for Region 1, did a great job leading our meeting and Pastor Tony Bye and his team at Brookhaven were gracious hosts. There were so many exciting reports of how God is at work in this region.
One of the highlights was the testimony that Pastor Tom Bradley (Huntington Etna Avenue) shared about three generations in one new family being baptized in the past month. They had 11 decisions for Christ and 8 baptisms in just the past few weeks. This zone also heard from Pastor Michele Henry on the successful KidMin Huddle (our annual training event for children’s ministry workers).
On Monday evening, I met with our District Nominating Committee. We were graciously hosted by Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church. The team worked well together identifying diverse voices from across our new district: nominees from all regions, large and small churches, women and men, younger and older. We also established the principle of not nominating people from churches that could not fulfill their United Stewardship Fund commitment last year. We understand that there may be legitimate reasons but we were convinced that the leaders who are entrusted with making decisions about expending those resources should represent churches that fully participated in USF.
Tuesday morning, I had the joy of hosting a gathering of our retired pastors for our spring fellowship at Wesleyan HQ in Fishers. After lunch, the Region 2 team also met at HQ. Pastor Mike Colaw, Assistant DS for Region 2, did a great job of leading the meeting and encouraging the team.
We heard wonderful reports of how God is on the move in this region including a report from Pastor Paul Kirk of a powerful sense of God’s presence last Sunday at New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church. They’ve been fasting and praying for God to bring revival and experienced a powerful breakthrough.
Tuesday evening, I was back in Gas City to meet with our District Action Committee. Probably no committee in our denomination is less appropriately named but it was a productive meeting as we reviewed our standing rules and made recommendations to the upcoming district conference.
Wednesday was a day of rest.
Thursday, I joined Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, for the Region 3 meeting at Merrillville ReThink Church. Pastor Marc and Heather Ulrich made us feel welcome and it was good for the area pastors to see the wonderful job they’ve done in remodeling the facility for ministry. Pastor Chris does a great job leading this team and it was good to see the camaraderie that is developing among these pastors who didn’t know each other just last year.
Following lunch, Pastor Marc Ulrich and I connected for a coaching conversation before heading back home.
The Multiplication Team met in Fishers on Friday morning under the leadership of Rev. Jon Wiest, District Director. It really is amazing to see the team that God has brought together to lead the way as we work to plant 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years. Then, Pastor John Freed led the inaugural Church Planters’ Training (or Boot Camp) for team members representing five prospective church planting projects. We were delighted that Rev. Chris Conrad, West Michigan DS, and some of his planters could join us. Chris did a great job of setting the tone with his keynote address. John and Danielle Freed, Tom Cochran, Matthew Trexler, and Jon Wiest rounded out the faculty that led the planters through “First Steps.” Pray that God will send out more workers into His Harvest! (Matthew 9:38)
Sherry and I were honored to represent our Crossroads District team at the memorial service for Pastor Paul Trent on Saturday morning. Rev. Clifton Ashlock led the service, assisted by Rev. Bob Van Cise and Dr. Jim Lo. Parkview Wesleyan Church in Chesterfield was filled to overflowing as family and friends gathered to celebrate a life well-lived for Christ. Pastor Paul’s life and ministry touched thousands of lives for eternity and he will be greatly missed. Please keep Mrs. Patty Trent, her family and the Parkview congregation in your prayers as they move forward relying on God’s grace and strength.
Driving home from Michigantown yesterday, I received a call from Pastor Randy Yaryan (Winchester Wesleyan) who shared the news that a young mother who is recovering from drug addiction gave her life to Christ at their Mothers’ Day Service. Praise God!
Our District Board of Administration meets on Thursday afternoon in Fairmount at the Branch. Your prayers are always valued as we meet to review the past year and plan for our upcoming district conference on June 23 and 24 at Marion College Wesleyan Church.
This coming Friday evening, Sherry and I are looking forward to hosting our next Zone Fellowship, this time with the pastors and their spouses from the North Zone of Region 3, led by Rev. Don Bayne.
It is an incredible joy to serve with you in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
On this first Sunday of our new conference year, I had the privilege of worshiping with Dr. Oliver Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church this morning in both services. Plymouth Wesleyan is one of our district’s flagship churches and the largest of the churches in our Region 3. Both services are uniquely targeted to specific audiences through appropriate musical styles that are both done with excellence. They have a wonderful campus and an outstanding preschool ministry. I met with staff and LBA members between the services and then enjoyed lunch with Pastor Ollie and Reata at their favorite Mexican restaurant.
Sunday evening, I was in Sheridan to bring greetings from our district family to the Six Points Local Church Conference. Pastor Steve Martin and his team have really stepped up to the challenge of their Maximizing Impact consultation. They’ve had baptisms on three of the past 4 Sundays!
The week began with a staff meeting in Marion before dropping in to visit with Pastor Paul and Patty Trent and then heading on to Fishers for lunch with Dr. Karl Eastlack, DS of the Penn-Jersey District. Monday concluded with a meeting of the Executive Committee of the General Board. The General Board meetings continued all day Tuesday and through noon on Wednesday. The highlight of the meeting was an update on the conversations that began at UNLEASHED. We are blessed to have six of our leading pastors serve on the General Board and it was encouraging to hear their perspective on the current reality and preferred future of The Wesleyan Church.
I headed north to meet with the Region 3 Zone pastors as they interviewed Rev. Terry and Lennaire Vaughn about a possible urban church planting partnership in South Bend. Terry and Lennaire did a great job of sharing their vision and the strategic plan for this project targeted to reach youth and young adults in the inner city. The zone pastors unanimously voted to recommend this project and these planters to the DBA. I am always moved by the generosity and Kingdom vision of our Crossroads pastors in these partnership meetings.
I stopped in to pray with Pastor Paul Trent again on Thursday before meeting with Dr. Ed Love, Jon Wiest and (via Skype) Mike Hewitt to work on church planting proposal for Muncie. I also met with Mike Yonke for an update on the POD giving project. Thursday evening, Rev. Luis Azofeifa (National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in Costa Rica) joined me for supper with Pastor Roy Angula and Raleigh Pedro. You may remember Pastor Angula as the prospective planter for Fort Wayne. Rev. Azofeifa gave Roy and Dylana his highest recommendation. Pending DBA approval of the Fort Wayne Zone’s recommendation, the Angulo family will be returning to Costa Rica and beginning the R-1 (religious worker) visa application process to rejoin us as soon as possible.
On Friday, I chaired the DBMD as we interviewed great candidates who are preparing for ordination on June 23. We have a terrific team of pastors and lay leaders who interview our candidates. The interviews continued on Saturday with Dr. David Smith back as our chair. Please make plans to join us at 6:30 on Friday evening, June 23, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion as Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, leads us in this sacred gathering.
Saturday morning, Rev. Rick Matthews and I met with Pastor Benjamin Tuimuk and leaders of a Chin congregation (from Burma/Myanmar) who has been worshiping at Southview Wesleyan Church (on the south side of Indianapolis). Pastor Matthews has been a wonderful encourager to this congregation. This is our third meeting and they are now officially requesting that the DBA receive them as a new developing Wesleyan congregation. Pending the DBA’s decision, I’ll be back to meet with them on May 21 to receive them as our newest members of the Crossroads District.
Saturday evening, Dr. Norman Wilson brought his dear friend, Rev. Carlos Martinez (National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of Chile) to preach for the Spanish language service at Anderson Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church. Rev. Clifton Ashlock does a wonderful job of pastoring this multi-ethnic ministry. Rev. Martinez also preached on Friday evening in Indianapolis at Monte de Sion and on Sunday morning at Carmel Iglesia Amistad. We’re looking forward to meeting Rev. Martinez’s son this summer when he comes to study at Wesley Seminary.
I’m looking forward to our Regional meetings with our pastors this week. Region 1 is meeting Monday morning (9:30-11:30) at Marion Brookhaven Wesleyan Church under the leadership of Rev. Jason Tash, Assistant DS. Region 2 is meeting on Tuesday afternoon (1:00-2:30) at Wesleyan Headquarters in Fishers under the leadership of Rev. Mike Colaw, Assistant DS. Region 3 will meet on Thursday morning (10-11:30 CST) in Merrillville at ReThink Church under the leadership of Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS. We’ll be hearing updates from Easter outreach, reviewing the top three church planting sites from each zone, and preparing for 2017 District Conference.
Our District Nominating Committee meets on Monday evening and our Conference Action Committee meets on Tuesday evening. Both meetings will be hosted at Eastview Wesleyan Church in Gas City.
We are hosting a Crossroad District Retired Ministers’ Fellowship on Tuesday morning at Wesleyan Headquarters in Fishers. You don’t have to be “officially retired” to join us, just old enough to remember when Eisenhower was president!
Then, on Friday and Saturday, our Multiplication Team is conducting their first Church Planters Bootcamp for candidates from our district and the Midwest.
There are many more upcoming events so please check out our Crossroads District website: http://www.crossroadsdistrict.org/events.html
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Today, April 30, marks the official end of the first conference year for the Crossroads District. I had the privilege of connecting with Dr. Steve DeNeff and the team at College Wesleyan Church in Marion today to bring greetings in their 3 worship services. Dr. DeNeff preached a powerful message from Galatians 4:19 on “being pregnant” with the life of Christ. Watch Pastor Steve’s sermons here: College Wesleyan Church sermons
I made it to Fairmount in time to join Rev. Jeff Luedtke for the dedication of The Branch, a new coffee house/drop-in center they’re planting in the center of the community. This was a big step of faith for Fairmount Wesleyan Church and they did a great job finishing this project. Congratulations to Pastor Jeff and his team for a job well done. The “Grand Opening” will be this Saturday and I know they’d love to have you stop by.
I enjoyed connecting with Pastor Tim McClellan and the team at Marion Lakeview Church to bring greetings at their Local Church Conference. They’ve made good progress this year including a positive financial audit and property updates. I was encouraged to learn more about the Life Center Counseling that provided an average of more than 200 counseling sessions per week last year. Director Dan Seitz is open to conversations with other churches in our district who would have interest in partnering to offer counseling services in their community.
After a meeting with Pastor Clifton Ashlock at Anderson Memorial Circle, I concluded a full day visiting with Rev. Paul Trent in Chesterfield. Pastor Paul has been courageously fighting brain cancer but has taken a turn for the worse over the last few weeks. Hospice care has been initiated. Pastor Paul, his son Sean, and I shared some precious moments singing and praying together.
I joined 30+ leaders from the Crossroads District participating in Exponential, the national conference on church multiplication, hosted at First Baptist Church in Orlando Tuesday through Thursday. Dr. Ed Love and his team hosted pre-conference sessions for 300 Wesleyan leaders on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. We had a great lineup of speakers including our General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt. The annual EXPY awards was held on Tuesday evening to celebrate the heroes of the Wesleyan multiplication movement.
The keynote speakers at this year’s event included Ed Stetzer, Matt Chandler, Wayne Cordeiro, Jodi Hickerson and Francis Chan. For those who couldn’t join us at the event in Orlando, we invite you to be one of 100 Crossroads leaders to be part of the Exponential Midwest Regional Event in Chicago on November 7 and 8. For more information, visit their website: Exponential Regional Event in Chicago
The last evening of Exponential provided an opportunity for the Crossroads team to host our friends from the Indiana South District for supper. Dr. Mark Eckart, Indiana South’s DS, introduced Rev. and Mrs. Phil Bogear who will be planting in Bloomington, and we introduced Rev. Mike Hewitt who has been recommended by our east zone in Region 2 to plant a new church in Muncie. It was encouraging to listen to the learnings from the sessions we’d attended and then to close our evening in prayer for Harvest laborers. After the final rally on Thursday morning, I was very glad to board a plane to head for home in Indiana!
Sherry and I hosted pastors and spouses from the Lafayette Zone in our home on Friday evening for a time of fellowship and prayer. We so enjoy these special opportunities to build deeper relationships with our team members. Special thanks to Rev. Dan Fisher (Delphi Wesleyan Church) who does a great job leading this zone.
Saturday morning, Jon Wiest (our district multiplication director) and I met with a prospective church planter in Indianapolis who will be graduating from Wesley Seminary this summer. I loved the passion and vision of this brother in Christ and look forward to the possibilities of partnering together.
Saturday afternoon, I caught up with Rev. Paul James and Rev. Chris Williams as they led a Maximizing Impact consultation with Pastor Matthew Stewart and the team at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. It’s been encouraging to see the progress at Sweetser under Pastor Matt’s leadership. There was a good spirit in the room as they explored ways to continue to raise the effectiveness of their ministry. Next weekend, the consultation team will be serving Pastor Lyle Breeding and the team at Bluffton Sonlight Wesleyan.
The General Board of The Wesleyan Church meets this week in Fishers. Please join me in praying that God will meet with these leaders. There are real challenges ahead but amazing opportunities as we partner together in the Harvest!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. Just a reminder that we’re hosting a fellowship for our retired (or eligible for retirement) pastors and spouses at the Wesleyan Headquarters on the morning of May 9. Mrs. Raleigh Pedro has sent out the information and we look forward to a special time together with these heroes of our Crossroads District.