More than 200 delegates from 50+ countries gathered in Bridgetown, Barbados this past week for the quadrennial International Conference of The Wesleyan Church. The Wesleyan Church, unlike some denominations, has intentionally decentralized and distributed authority to the global church. Full General Conferences now exist in the Philippines (more than 50,000 members in 3000+ churches), The Caribbean, and now Ibero-America (the Spanish-language countries of Central and South America).
The African church is rapidly developing and could qualify for General Conference status in 2023. Canada is a National Conference with a trajectory for full General Conference in the next decade. Australia/New Zealand/Solomon Islands form the Pacific Regional Conference. Each conference shares the same constitution and doctrinal essentials, although great flexibility is provided for governance and methodology that is faithfully contextualized. Each General Conference is represented on the International Board by one General Superintendent, and additional delegates are elected at large.
Fellowship and worship with these Wesleyan brothers and sisters from around the globe is inspiring and challenging. We have so much to learn from the effective disciple-making, church planting and leadership development that they are undertaking in some of the most difficult circumstances. We heard testimonies of the persecuted church from leaders in India, China, and from Muslim countries. We heard stories of accelerated church planting in Bangladesh and Columbia. Unfortunately, the rapidly-growing Wesleyan church of Mozambique was not represented due to the devastating storms they’ve endured.
One example is in the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The Wesleyan Church has been envisioning a transforming presence in every zip code. but what does that look like in Mumbai? For them, it is having a church near every local train station. Millions of people pass through the 107 Mumbai metro stations every day. In just a few years, Wesleyan church planters have already established regular meetings at eight stations and believing God to help them multiply churches near the remaining 99.
The conference ended on Tuesday evening with a wonderful celebration of praise and challenging vision message from Dr. Wayne Schmidt. The theme of the ICWC is “Everywhere to Everywhere” and being together in mission with these Wesleyan brothers and sisters is truly inspiring as we consider the task unfinished here in Indiana.
Wednesday was a day of collaborative planning for key regions of the world. I was able to join Dr. Rich Schenck and Joshe Bose, National Director for Bangladesh, to explore Asia-Pacific partnerships. While there is still a need for missionaries in many parts of the world, it is encouraging to see the leadership of these nations strategizing together to take the Gospel to unreached nations and people groups in their region of the world.
Thursday was a day of extended travel, leaving our hotel at 3:30 am, flying to Miami, Philadelphia and on to Fort Wayne, only to have weather divert us to Indianapolis before returning to FWA. I arrived home at 2:00 am on Friday morning, safe and thankful!
Friday morning, I met with Assistant DS Chris Williams to review year-end reporting and preparations for upcoming meetings. Rev. Matthew Trexler joined us at 10 in preparation for their StratOp consultation. Rev. Mark Atkinson, Rev. Trexler and I met over lunch in Gas City for an update on Eastview Wesleyan’s church planting initiative with Rev. Aldean Pablo and a prospective launch team in Roanoke. You’ll be hearing more about this exciting development at District Conference!
Friday afternoon, I met with a young couple who are early in their ministry and exploring next steps before heading to Noblesville to be part of the StratOp planning retreat that Chris and Matthew led for Circle of Hope Church and Network. Circle of Hope is on a steep learning curve and this was a key opportunity to develop clear strategy and action plans for the exciting opportunities in front of them.
Saturday morning, I hosted another Bivocational Pastors Fellowship at the Branch in Fairmount. Approximately 50% of our Crossroads District ministers have additional full-time or part-time employment beyond their pastoral employment to support their families. It was encouraging to hear the Easter reports and stories of life change. Thank you to Velvet Haisley and her team for their gracious hospitality and delicious lunch.
Saturday evening, I met with Rev. Barry and Vickie Taylor for a delightful conversation and then dropped in on Sunday morning as Rev. Taylor candidated for the senior pastor position at Hartford City Wesleyan Church this weekend. Barry is an Asbury Seminary grad with experience in church planting, revitalization and consulting. They currently serve with the Evangelical Methodist Church and live in Wheeling, West Virginia. The congregation voted 72-0 to call Rev. Taylor and he has accepted the initial 2-year call.
I also received word from Beaver Creek Wesleyan that they voted 93% in favor of calling Ben Jones as their next pastor. Ben called to let me know that he is accepting their invitation. Ben is a licensed minister who has been serving as an assistant pastor on staff with Rev. Greg Holmes at South Bend Sonlight. Pray for Pastor Ben as he takes this step forward in answering God’s call.
Chris Williams and I are in La Plata, Maryland on Monday and Tuesday this week to work with Pastor Mike Hilson and the leadership team at New Life Wesleyan Church. Our District Board of Administration meets on Thursday. Our Retired Pastors and Spouses Fellowship meets on Friday for lunch at College Wesleyan Church. Sherry and I will be hosting a Zone Fellowship on Friday night at Thornapple and then, on Saturday, our Hispanic Pastors Fellowship is coming to the house for lunch.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom by making disciples and multiplying churches here in the Crossroads District!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. Please plan to join us on June 4, 7 p.m., at Wesley Seminary for a presentation from Dan LeRoy, author of Rediscovering Our Holiness Heritage.
I’m in Barbados this week for the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church. Sunday morning, I attended the Mother’s Day Service at Cave Hill Wesleyan Church pastored by Rev. Dr. Beverly Lashley and her husband, Jeff. Beverly is a recent graduate from Wesley Seminary and is doing a wonderful job leading this church turnaround.
Sunday evening was the opening rally of the conference with Rev. Dr. Wayne Schmidt leading the North American General Conference delegation and Pastor Alex Cicilia (Mexico) preaching. Business sessions begin on Monday morning and concludes on Tuesday evening, Please keep these meetings in your prayers as the global Wesleyan church strategizes to take the Gospel from everywhere to everywhere. You can learn more about the conference at this website:
Last Monday morning, I met with the leadership team at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church for an update as they care for the church during Pastor Tim McClellan’s recovery. Thank you for partnering with Tim and Cynthia in prayer through this journey.
Monday evening through Wednesday noon, I was in Fishers with Dr. Wayne Schmidt and the General Board of The Wesleyan Church for our annual spring meeting. Dr. Anita Eastlack shared the sobering statistic that last year The Wesleyan Church closed 22 churches and only opened 12 new congregations. Preparations are underway for the General Conference to be held in St. Louis next year.
Wednesday afternoon, Pastor John Miller, church planter for Way City Church in Speedway, and I met for our annual coaching conversation. They’ve secured a meeting location for their fall launch and are starting a second Bible study group this week.
Thursday morning, Rev. Chris Williams led a coach training session at Eastview Wesleyan Church for district pastors who are part of our Maximizing Impact consultation ministry. It was good to connect with these leaders in our church revitalization ministry. Chris does a great job training ministry coaches for our district and is available to share this training with your local church.
Thursday afternoon, I was in Fishers to sign legal documents for Trinity Wesleyan Church. My final meeting of the day was my annual coaching conversation with Rev. Dr. Rich Schenck and Pastor Carol Schenck (Circle of Hope Network). Rev. Joshe Bose, national superintendent for The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh, joined us for supper. The Circle of Hope Network had 309 in attendance for Easter weekend in their six locations, from Beech Grove to Bangladesh.
Friday morning, I met with Pastor Zach Working for an encouraging update on the revitalization project that he and Pastor Carla are leading at Hope Rising Church in Huntington. Friday afternoon, I met with Pastor Scott McDermid (Sheridan Six Points Church) on follow-up items as he prepares for ordination. Six Points Church welcomed 440 for Easter weekend with 76 of those in children’s ministry, a new record!
Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Steve Bray (Fountain City Wesleyan Church) on his graduation from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with his Doctor of Ministry degree!
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I had a great time getting away to celebrate our 35th anniversary. (Our anniversary was back in March but one of the few inconveniences of being married to a CPA is adjusting your vacation schedule to accommodate the IRS and April 15.) Special thanks to Rev. Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS, who chaired the DBA in my absence and to Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, who directed daily operations.. We had a terrific adventure over our three weeks away, but we love coming home to an amazing team here in the Crossroads District doing work together that matters for eternity!
We’re still hearing exciting reports about Easter outreach and follow-up. I spoke with Rev. Andy Cole last night and heard that Lapel Daybreak Church welcomed 148 for Easter Sunday. They use an assimilation process, adapted from a program developed at Church of the Highlands called Growth Track, and have had more than 30 people take these first steps in the past 3 months. It’s a new day at Daybreak!
Pastor Zach Working shared that Hope Rising in Huntington is continuing to experience God’s blessing in their revitalization process. Their men’s group hosted a breakfast on Easter morning with 106 in attendance at the church and also shared that meal with the fire and police departments, and the local soup kitchen. They had 150 in attendance for worship with 3 Salvations. They are planning for a baptism service in June with 10 commitments so far. They welcomed 18 new members in February and have 16 enrolled in their current membership class. Hope is rising in Huntington!
Pastor Carol Schenck passed along an encouraging report from the first annual Local Church Conference for the Circle of Hope network of churches (Anderson, Bangladesh, Beech Grove, and Noblesville) with 50 members meeting at IWU’s Keystone facility. Dr. Rich and Pastor Carol are leading a growing and increasingly diverse team in reaching these communities. We’re learning with them as they explore new ways to leverage the combined strengths of these smaller churches for increased Kingdom impact.
I spoke with Pastor Tim McClellan last evening as he and Cynthia were traveling to Ohio. Tim is having a consultation at the Cleveland Clinic today to look into potential treatment options. He continues making progress in recovery from the surgery but there is uncertainty about whether the cancer may have spread further. Tim and Cynthia are grateful for the love and continuing prayers of their Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church family and the Crossroads District team.
I would also welcome your prayers this week as I represent our team at the General Board meeting of The Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis (May 6-9), and represent the North American General Conference at the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church meeting in Barbados beginning on Sunday through Wednesday, May 12-15. These are exciting and challenging days for which The Wesleyan Church desperately needs God’s anointing and direction. May we be fully committed to doing what He is blessing!
You are invited to join us at The Crossroads District Conference which will be held on Friday, June 21 and Saturday, June 22 at the Phillippe Performing Arts Center on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University.
Our Celebration of Ministry Service, where we ordain new ministers and honor those ministers who are retiring, will be held on Friday, June 21 at 7:00 pm. All ordained ministers in the Crossroads District will gather at 6:30 pm for pictures and to line up for the processional into the service.
Our Annual Business Session will be held on Saturday, June 22, 9 am to 4 pm. We will spend time in worship and hear vision updates from our General and District Superintendents. We will also elect officers and discuss General Conference memorials.
The theme for this year’s conference is Multiply. Together, we will be exploring the multiplication of services, campuses, and new kingdom communities as a key strategy in closing the “Gospel Gap” in our region. Here’s our conference website:
Your year-end reports are due by May 15, 2019. Final CSF payments for the 2018-2019 fiscal must be received no later than May 10 to be recorded for the current fiscal year. All payments received after May 10 will be recorded for the 2020 fiscal year.
If you have questions or if you need assistance with year-end reports, please contact Roxene Lo in the district office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 765.674.8593).
Thanks in advance for your prompt attention and timely submission of your reports as we prepare for District Conference 2019.
Do you wish your outreach ministry, both locally and globally, was more intentional?
The Festival on Outreach will be a great opportunity for your whole team to network and interact with other churches, Global Partners, World Hope, and World Gospel Mission and learn how to go beyond projects to building missional partnerships. The Festival on Outreach will be held on May 20-21, 2019 at College Wesleyan Church. Cost is $35 or $25 for groups 5 and over. We hope you can attend this great event, you will leave inspired and challenged
Register now at www.collegewes.com/festival.
It is a joy to serve with you in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent