This conference concludes the second year of ministry as a new district since the merger of Indiana Central District and Indiana North District in 2016. There have been adjustments and learnings along the way, but this year’s conference seemed genuinely marked by a sense of God’s presence in our worship and prayer, as well as a growing sense of team.
John Maxwell is famous for saying that everything rises and falls on leadership. If that’s the case, then nothing we do as a conference is more important than ordaining ministers and deploying leaders for the harvest. This year, we ordained 10 wonderful candidates for the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Before the service, we had a encouraging time of fellowship and prayer with our ordained ministers as Dr. David Smith prepared us for the evening. I am grateful to each of these leaders who made this consecration service a scheduling priority.
Dr. Dennis Jackson was the General Superintendent’s representative and brought a powerful message as the keynote speaker for the Ordination Service. Each of the 10 candidates received the examination and then had the Ordination Council lay hands as the General Superintendent’s representative performed the act of ordination.
Then, the assembled ordained ministers from the Crossroads District surrounded the ordinands and spouses as they knelt before the altar. There are few sounds more beautiful than this time of collective prayer with these saints calling on God for His anointing on His called servants.
Congratulations once more to these members of the Crossroads District Ordination Class of 2018: Reverend Seth Bye, Reverend Laura Catlin, Reverend Shawnda Dykhoff, Reverend Jorge Escalante, Reverend Teresa Hester, Reverend Taylor Hulse, Reverend Levi Lehman, Reverend Joshua Light, Reverend Ethan Linder, and Reverend Jason Sanders.
(If you were unable to attend, here’s a link to the video recording of the service:
The service was followed by a wonderful reception and time of fellowship hosted in the atrium and gathering room at College Wesleyan Church. Special thanks to Dr. Steve DeNeff and his team for their generous invitation and exceptional hospitality for ordination and conference again this year!
The conference team began registering delegates at 8 a.m. on Saturday and the first session of conference commenced promptly at 9. The theme of this year’s district conference was "SENT NOW" drawn from the words of Jesus in John 9:4 (NLT) "We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, then no one can work."
We enjoyed inspiring times of musical worship led by Elizabeth and Scott Rhyno. The first session featured the District Superintendent’s annual report with special recognition given to our church planting teams.
In addition to affirming Pastor Michael and Kim Hewitt (Muncie Rising Hope) and Rev. Terry and Lennaire Vaughn (South Bend – The Bridge), we welcomed new mission leaders in Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero, planting a new Hispanic congregation in Elkhart, Rochelle & Travis Jenkins who are planting Circle City Wesleyan (a house church network) in inner city Indianapolis, and Pastor John Miller, planting Way City Church in Speedway. We praise God for the new Kingdom communities He is raising up!
The superintendent’s report also included updates on the conversations underway with members of the Heartland Collective (Greater Ohio District, Indiana South District, Kentucky-Tennessee District, and Crossroads). We are working on partnership possibilities including leadership development, church planting, and a joint ministerial in Pigeon Forge in 2020. Two of the district superintendents, Rev. Les Crossfield (Greater Ohio) and Dr. Mark Eckart (Indiana South) brought greetings to the delegates.
During the second session, we heard from Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent and special guests Dr. Steve Lennox (president of Kingswood University) and Dr. David Wright (president of Indiana Wesleyan University). We also cast ballots for District Superintendent and District Secretary, re-electing both. After a learning curve on the new electronic ballots, we made better progress on our voting in the afternoon.
We received the positive financial reports from Nancy Schoonmaker, our District Treasurer, and approved another conference budget that dedicates more than 25% of our annual income to church planting, church revitalization and leadership development. Your United Stewardship Fund (USF) contributions topped 96% this year, up from 95.5% last year. Thank you to every leader who worked diligently to help us move toward 100% participation. Your full participation allows us to keep our combined rate at 10%, which is the 2nd lowest in the denomination. Special thanks to Mrs. Nancy Schoonmaker and Mrs. Roxene Lo, Bookkeeper, for the excellent work they do with our financial reporting.
In the afternoon, we completed our elections. One of the last official acts of the day was the General Superintendent’s installation of the re-elected District Superintendent and the new District Board of Administration. We elected 6 new at-large members to the DBA with nine men and seven women representing our churches on this governing board. Our lay members-at-large are Sharon Cady, Jeff Clark, Kathy Drury, Amy Luchetti, and Ken Ehman. Our ministerial members-at-large are Rev. Steve Bray, Dr. Steve DeNeff, Rev. Barry Dixon, Rev. Emily Hines, and Dr. Norman Wilson.
Rev. Carol Schenck was elected again as our District Secretary and the DBA appointed Mrs. Nancy Schoonmaker, CPA, one again as District Treasurer. Rev. Michael Colaw (Region 2), Rev. Matthew Trexler (Region 1), and Rev. Chris Williams (Region 3) were appointed by the DBA as Assistant District Superintendents. Rev. Matthew Trexler was elected as Vice-Chair of the DBA for the coming year.
The day of conferencing concluded with delegates sharing in the Lord’s Supper as the members of the DBA served the communion elements. Dr. Jim Lo and our district intercession team then led the delegates in a time of closing prayer as we prepared to leave in the spirit of this year’s conference theme “SENT NOW!”
Plan now to join us in Marion next year for District Conference 2019, June 21-22!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. The full District Conference Journal will be available online later this summer.
This is the first of what will be two installments of our Crossroads District Team Update for this week, with an update on District Conference 2018 coming tomorrow.
Sunday, June 24, I began the day worshiping with the folks at Greenfield Brown’s Chapel. The guest speaker for the morning service was Dr. Jim Dunn, former pastor and now Church Relations Director for Wesleyan Investment Foundation. Jim had a fruitful ministry there before being elected to denominational service and the congregation always enjoys welcoming him home. Rev. Matthew Tietje, who works in the Communications and Administration office at Wesleyan HQ, has agreed to serve as interim pastor while the pastoral search continues. Pray that God will direct their search.
Sunday afternoon, I joined Rev. Victor Silva and Rev. Claudia Silva for worship at Richmond Casa del Alfarero (The Potter’s House). Pastor Victor and Claudia have served in Richmond since 2007 in partnership with Fountain City Wesleyan Church. The congregation is largely comprised of newer immigrant families and the church responds generously to serving their needs. They have heart-felt worship services and even the children are enthusiastic participants. Pray that God will bless their outreach.
My next stop was at North Anderson Wesleyan Church to join the celebration of Rev. Eddie and Julie Purciful’s retirement after 32 years of faithful ministry that included relocating the landlocked church to the spacious new campus and multi-purpose facility. Rev. David Shafer, Lead Pastor, and Rev. James (Scott) Stamper, Executive Pastor, have been working alongside Rev. Purciful as assistants for several years as he prepared for this transition. Pastor Eddie plans to enjoy vacation time with Julie this summer but will be back this fall to continue as an active volunteer in the church. The attendance record board shows the cumulative ministry and was presented as a retirement gift.
Sunday evening, I chaired a special Local Church Conference called at Kokomo Trinity Wesleyan Church to consider the proposal to discontinue their current ministry and become a satellite campus ministry of Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. Pastor Johnnie Blair’s team at Tipton Trinity extended the invitation to collaborate for more effective ministry. There was broad participation as they considered the pros and cons of the proposal. After prayer, the ballots were cast and counted. The vote was 18-1 in favor of asking the DBA to discontinue the church and to guide the adoption process with Tipton Trinity. Pending DBA approval, Pastor Marc Watkins will become an assistant pastor to Pastor Blair and the Tipton Trinity LBA will provide leadership to the combined ministry.
While district conference preparation consumed a good bit of last week’s calendar, I was able to attend worship services at Fairmount Senior High Youth Camp and Week #2 of Never the Same Camp at Indiana Wesleyan University. Rev. John and Danielle Freed were the evangelists at Fairmount and it was exciting to see the response of students to the challenging message that was shared. Again this week, the campers generously contributed to Rising Hope, the church planting project in Muncie. The $500 they gave was matched by the camp leadership team and the $1000 total was also matched by Waterline Church to bring the amount to $2000. What a beautiful act of generosity!
I was headed to Indy for meetings on Wednesday but had the opportunity to connect with Rev. Dr. Jim Lo at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church as he gathered with his team to launch weekly prayer walks through the community. These are exciting days at Parkview as Pastor Jim and Roxene Lo have leaned into this ministry challenge. The congregation is responding warmly to the their leadership and God is clearly at work!
The Heartland Collective (Greater Ohio, Indiana South, Kentucky-Tennessee, and Crossroads districts) had a Zoom call meeting and then I met with Assistant DS Mike Colaw over lunch to review his plans for Region 2 leadership development this fall. After lunch, I met with a pastoral prospect who is prayerfully considering transferring into The Wesleyan Church. My last meeting of the day was with Pastor Zach and Assistant Pastor Carla Working and the leadership team in Huntington. Among the highlights of this meeting was their decision to request a name change to “Hope Rising” from Etna Avenue and their request for Caleb & Kiana Kimball to be appointed as ministerial staff on their revitalization team. The DBA and District Conference has approved these requests. Pray for these leaders and their team in this exciting renewal project!
Here’s one last praise report. Rev. Duane Cragun shared pictures and a praise report from the baptism service yesterday with Lancaster Wesleyan. There were 43 in attendance as Pastor Doug Sharrard and Rev. Cragun baptized four teenage believers. After the service, another young mother gave her life to Christ and expressed her desire to be baptized later this summer. Thank the Lord for changed lives!
We’ll share photos and reports from Ordination and District Conference 2018 tomorrow.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I joined Pastor Matthew & Nicole Trexler and their team at The River Church in Marion on Sunday morning as they celebrated groundbreaking for their expansion and remodeling project. God is writing an amazing story of grace at The River Church. Last year, they baptized 17 new believers and recorded over 100 professions of faith.
This project is just one more significant step in the journey of faith for The River Church to reach the 12,000 unreached people within a five-mile radius of their campus. They’re also making plans to launch multiple campuses in the next few years. Pray that God will continue to direct, protect, and bless this ministry and these leaders.
Sunday afternoon, I joined Pastor Calimerio and Maria Rodriguez at Templo de Poder Church in Frankfort. The congregation is home to families from El Salvador, Mexico, and Guatemala (Pastor Mario’s home country). There is a wonderful spirit of worship in their service and their Father’s Day (Dia del Padre) celebration included musical presentations for their fathers from the children and then from the youth group. Pastor Mario invited me to preach and I was ably assisted in translation by Daniel, a high school student.
The service concluded with a prayer of blessing for the fathers. Next week, Pastor Rodriguez has called the church to a 24-hour prayer vigil as they seek God’s anointing on their ministry. They are also hosting a fundraiser this month to send relief through World Hope International for the earthquake victims in Guatemala. I’m grateful to Pastor Alan Downing and the team at Frankfort First Wesleyan Church for their partnership with this vibrant ministry.
Father’s Day was also special at Rising Hope Church, our new project in Muncie, as eight new families accepted invitations to attend the Father’s Day outreach event. This was the third preview event that the Rising Hope team has hosted as they prepare for a public launch this fall. More than 80 people attended this preview service and four people raised their hands for prayer as Pastor Michael Hewitt challenged people to follow Christ. Special thanks to the middle school campers at Fairmount Camp last week who raised $400 to help reach students in Muncie through this planting project!
Last week began with a road trip on Monday to West Lebanon, near the Illinois state line, where Pastor Seth Merrill (New Carlisle) and his team hosted more than 130 teens at Hanging Rock Camp. Pastors Tom and Sarah Cochran were the camp evangelists. It was good to connect with these Crossroads students and the volunteer staff members including Pastor Logan Patriquin (Lafayette – The Branch) and Micah Hudson (Delphi UMC). I avoided the zip lines and being thrown into the swimming pool. Maybe next year!
Monday afternoon, I met with Pastor John Miller in Speedway for an update on the Way City Church planting journey. It was encouraging to hear how John and Heather are connecting with people in their community, including friends from their days at Speedway High School. If you have connections (unchurched family or friends) in the Speedway area, John and Heather would be glad to hear from you: https://waycity.church/
Monday evening, I worshiped with Camp Director Andy Jellison and more than 150 junior high campers at Fairmount Camp. Jordan Kizewski and Ryley Olson were the evangelists and Austin Barker led worship. Praise the Lord for the spiritual impact of this camp as 8 students made first-time commitments and 11 students indicated that they were sensing a call into full-time ministry.
Tuesday morning, I connected with Mrs. Roxene Lo at her office in Marion as preparations are full speed ahead for district conference. Roxene is a wonderful blessing to our team members in the office and a trusted resource for our district family. From Marion to New Castle to connect with prospective pastoral candidates for Memorial Wesleyan Church. Tuesday evening, Sherry and I hosted Pastor Steve and Susan Bray for supper in Muncie.
On Wednesday, I connected with Dr. Ken Schenck and Dr. Jim Lo over lunch to explore ways that the Crossroads District and the School of Theology and Ministry can collaborate even more effectively to serve students and our churches. Wednesday evening, I was with Pastor Zach Working and the leadership team at Huntington Etna Avenue as they prepare to relaunch this fall.
Thursday morning, I met with Assistant DS Chris Williams and the district conference planning team as we wrapped up final details for this weekend’s ordination service (Friday, June 22, 7 p.m.) and conference (Saturday, June 23, 9 a.m.) both at College Wesleyan Church. Thursday afternoon, I met with Rev. Dr. Richard Schenck in Noblesville for an update on the partnership/merger between Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan and Anderson Central Wesleyan. Thursday evening, I was able to connect with Rev. Jeff Eckart and the NTS Camp at Indiana Wesleyan University. Pastor Jacob Gibson from Fountain City Wesleyan Church shared how God was working in their youth group.
Friday morning, I met with Rochelle and Travis Jenkins in Noblesville. They are called to plant a reproducing house church network in the inner city of Indianapolis. Rochelle and Travis will be joining the ordination track in our DBMD process and I know you’ll enjoy getting to know them. My next meeting was with Dr. Joe Harmon, who is continuing in his second year as pastor at Lapel Daybreak Church. It was encouraging to hear the progress reports and plans for the coming year. Friday afternoon, my two sons from Michigan came down for an early Father’s Day surprise and we took in the closing rally of NTS camp. Both of them had Jeff Eckart as their youth pastor and I’m grateful for the impact of his ministry on their lives.
Saturday evening, Sherry and I had the privilege of joining Pastors John and Danielle Freed for the official organizational service as Waterline Church in Fishers moved from developing church status to established church with 34 founding members. I chaired the inaugural meeting of the local church conference and they voted unanimously to an extended call for Rev. John Freed. This was another year of spiritual progress at Waterline Church with 36 decisions for Christ and 11 baptisms.
Please continue to pray for our leaders and the teenagers meeting this week in camps at Fairmount and IWU. Plan to join us for the 2018 Crossroads District Ordination Service at College Wesleyan Church in Marion this Friday evening, June 22. Ministers will gather for the Class of 2018 photo at 6:30 and the service begins promptly at 7 p.m. We’d also welcome your prayers as our delegates gather on Saturday for conference beginning at 9 (Registration at 8:00 a.m.). For more information, visit: http://conference.crossroadsdistrict.org
One more special prayer request for Pastor Randy Yaryan’s 91-year-old mother was injured in a fall yesterday morning and has been hospitalized in Muncie. She is experiencing a great deal of pain and the doctors are making decisions today about best treatment options.
Thank you for making a difference in the cause that counts!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday, June 10, I had the joy of worshiping at Kirklin Wesleyan Church. This is a small town church with a big heart. In addition to a vital ministry in their own community, they also serve with the compassion center in Garfield Park. The congregation is led by Lay Supply Pastor Kay Dickerson and her husband Bill. She shares the teaching load on Sundays with another lay pastor.
This year, Kirklin averaged 46 in worship and baptized 17 new believers. There was a beautiful spirit in the service and altar prayer time. After the service, I met with the leadership team and heard updates on the progress they’re making with paving their parking lot and refurbishing their parsonage.
Sunday afternoon, I dropped in for worship with Pastor Nicholas and Adrianna Zarate at Noblesville Lakeview’s Rey de Gloria service. In addition to their faithful ministry in Noblesville, the Zarates have also been assisting Pastor Clifton Ashlock with the Saturday evening Spanish-language service at United Wesleyan in Anderson.
Sunday evening was a new experience for me as I worshiped with Pastor Getachew Tegegne and the Ethiopian congregation of Christ International Church on the westside of Indianapolis. Pastor Tegegne is finishing his M.Div at Wesley Seminary and so enjoyed his class with Dr. Bud Bence on Theology of Holiness that he is considering transferring into The Wesleyan Church and applying for CIC to become an affiliated congregation. This was my first opportunity to worship with them and to worship in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. Pastor Tegegne is planning to visit with us at district conference and I know you’ll make him feel welcome.
The congregation of Albion Wesleyan Church voted unanimously on Sunday to ask the DBA to appoint Rev. Mark Schnell as their next lead pastor. Mark will continue to complete his doctoral degree program and will initially commute to Albion from Marion. Pray for the transition to go smoothly and for God to bless him in this new assignment!
Last week included a regularly monthly Zoom meeting with GS Dr. Wayne Schmidt and superintendents of several districts, interviewing prospective pastoral candidates, connecting with the search committees at New Castle Memorial Wesleyan and Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan, district conference team meeting, DBMD meeting, and my first coaching conversation of this conference year with Rev. Steve Bray as the new senior pastor at Fountain City Wesleyan Church.
Another highlight of the week was joining the other three superintendents of the Heartland Collective to bring greetings to the Indiana South District Conference in Paoli on Tuesday morning. We were warmly welcomed by the delegates and graciously hosted by Dr. Mark Eckart’s team. Mr. Kevin Batman, General Treasurer did a fine job representing the General Superintendent and chairing portions of the meeting.
It’s always good to connect with Rev. Les Crossfield (Greater Ohio), Rev. Aaron Shermon (KY-TN) and Dr. Eckart as we strategize new ways for greater collaboration here in the heartland of America. Dr. Eckart and Rev. Crossfield will be able to join us at our Crossroads District Conference on June 23 in Marion. One of the highlights of their conference was the report from Rev. Phil Bogear who is leading the launch team in planting the Bridge Church in Bloomington. This is the first district church planting project in several years and they’re excited to launch this fall.
We really need your prayer support over these next two weeks as our district teens participate in four unique camping experiences. I’ll be over in West Lebanon on Monday to connect with Rev. Seth Merrill and the team leading the adventure camp at Hanging Rock. Never The Same (NTS) camps are coming back to Indiana Wesleyan University this month and several of our churches participate in this program. And Fairmount Camp will see the largest number of our teens participating in Junior High Camp this week, and Senior High Camp next week.
So many of us look back at events like area rallies and youth camps as significant experiences in our spiritual journey. Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower these workers and encounter these campers in fresh and powerful ways. May God light His fire in their hearts!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I joined the Miami community yesterday morning for the retirement celebration of Rev. Marvin & Mary Lamb and the closing service of the Miami Wesleyan Church. Both of the other churches in the community, United Methodist and Praise Fellowship, cancelled their own services and came together on this special occasion to honor Pastor Lamb. Rev. Lamb has served most of the last 3 decades of his 46 years of ministry as bi-vocational pastor for this congregation. (Note: We will be honoring our retiring ministers at the Crossroads District Ordination Service, College Wesleyan Church, Marion, on Friday evening, June 22.)
This was also a celebration of the contribution this congregation has made to the town over the 130 years since it was organized as a community church back in 1888. In 1913, the congregation affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodists. The congregation was down to just a faithful few in recent years (averaging 9 in worship) but wonderful testimonies were shared of the impact the church has had over the generations. Although this was the final service of the Wesleyan congregation, the church building will continue to be open to serve the community as Praise Fellowship begins holding worship services there this Sunday. Dr. Marcel Lamb, son of Rev Marvin Lamb, brought an encouraging message from God’s Word and then Rev. Marvin Lamb concluded the service by leading us in the Lord’s Supper.
Last week’s ministry schedule was abbreviated with Memorial Day and our travel back from our son’s wedding in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes. There was a beautiful sense of God’s presence as Joel and Christie made their vows to God and to each other. We were blessed to have all of our children present for this special occasion along with my brother, my older sister, and my father. Joel and Christie are settling into their apartment this week outside of Grand Rapids, MI where Joel serves on staff at Journey Wesleyan Church in Caledonia.
Thursday morning, I met with the district conference planning team, then connected with Dr. David Smith, Chris Williams and Seth Bye over lunch for planning the DMBD retreat coming up later this summer. Thursday afternoon, I met with Pastor Michael Hewitt in Muncie for an update on the progress at Rising Hope Church, and then closed out the day meeting with Rev. David Hines and Steve Matthews, our district’s global missions leaders, to review plans for the coming year in our partnerships with the growing Wesleyan churches in Mozambique and Bangladesh.
Friday morning, I was back in my office to catch up on e-mail and phone calls before heading to Wabash for an afternoon meeting with Pastor Rick Fletcher and Assistant Pastor Andy Jellison (Fort Wayne Lifeway Church) and Rev. Zach Szmara (pastor at The Bridge in Logansport), in his role as Immigrant Connection Director. We are grateful for Zach’s leadership to our district as we navigate the process of receiving international pastors to help us reach the increasingly multi-ethnic mosaic of Indiana.
Saturday, I traveled to Washington, Indiana, to represent our Crossroads District team at the funeral for Rev. O.W. Willis, father of our retired D.S. Rev. Dr. Aron Willis, and grandfather of Rev. Bill Thompson, pastor of our Anderson Lone Oak Wesleyan Church.
In addition to serving as DS for 21 years in the Indiana South District, Rev. O.W. Willis had a powerful evangelistic ministry preaching at least 9000 sermons in more than 1000 churches. Powerful testimonies were shared of the impact of this life well-lived for God. Dr. Aron Willis preached a wonderful message drawn from the life of Philip, the evangelist of Acts, and Rev. Bill Thompson sang “When We Reached the Last Mile.” I hadn’t heard this song in many years but the lyrics seemed so appropriate to his life:
If I walk in the pathway of duty, If I work till the close of the day,
I shall see the great King in His beauty, When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way,
I will rest at the close of the day;
And I know there are joys that await me,
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
If for Christ I proclaim the glad story, If I seek for His sheep gone astray,
I am sure He will show me His glory, When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
And if here I have earnestly striven, And have tried all His will to obey,
’Twill enhance all the rapture of heaven, When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
We thank God for the faithful legacy of His servant and extend our prayers and sympathies to the Willis family.
This weekend was also a significant milestone for many of our district’s pastoral families who celebrated high school graduations. Here is just a sampling of those celebrations:
Congratulations to all of our graduates and their families!
This is also a time of pastoral transitions across our district. Rev. Dr. Jim Lo and Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church are delighted to welcome Rev. Jeremy, Ana, and Adoline Armiger who are joining the pastoral team this week. Rev. Armiger has most recently pastored in Florida but we are glad he’s coming home to Indiana.
Dr. Lo will continue to provide point leadership and primary teaching responsibility with Pastor Jeremy assisting. Rev. Tim Witte has resigned as pastor for North Wabash Wesleyan Church and has accepted a new ministry position on staff at College Wesleyan Church. Rev. Mark Schnell has been serving Albion Wesleyan on an interim basis and has now agreed to candidate for a 1-year call this coming weekend. I’ll be meeting with the search committees at Sheridan Six Points and New Castle Memorial later this week so please continue to pray for our churches and our pastors in this season of transition.
Registration is now open for "The Gathering!" The Crossroads District Board of Administration has set aside funds to provide 50% scholarships for the first 100 pastors to register. This incentive is open first to solo/senior pastors through July 31. After July 31, the remaining scholarships will be available to all appointed ministers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent