Saturday, June 24th, 356 lay and ministerial delegates registered their attendance at our 175th annual conference of Wesleyans ministering in Indiana, the 7th annual conference of the merged Crossroads District. What a joy to gather as God’s people on mission with Him.
I shared this scripture passage from 2nd Samuel 5:24 “As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you...” We hear the sound of His marching in the tops of the poplar trees and see God going out before us in many ways.
An event like this doesn’t happen without a dedicated team of volunteers. Rev. Dr. Chris Williams, our Assistant DS, assembled a terrific team. We were blessed by the staff members at Madison Park Church of God who went the second and third mile to host our gathering. Daybreak Lapel provided golf carts to assist people to their parked cars. Volunteers from Anderson North and Anderson United welcomed attenders and helped us register.
We worshiped in song led by Nancy Pike and the powerful ministry team from LifeSpring Church. We received the Lord’s Supper together under the guidance of our four circuit riders, Rev. Mark Atkinson, Dr. Jim Lo, Rev. Neftali Lopez, and Dr. David Smith.
We were blessed by the anointed preaching of Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, our retired General Superintendent, who performed the ordination of 11 new Wesleyan ministers. The ordination council led by Rev. Carla Working, chair of the DBMD, also affirmed the ordination of three ministers transferring into The Wesleyan Church.
We did the expected by electing officers and receiving annual reports, but we also enjoyed refreshing fellowship around tables over lunch and respectfully debated resolutions.
We celebrated 8% growth in worship attendance (from 10,492 to 11,339) and the fact that 60% of our churches (64 of our 105) reported increases in their worship attendance. Some of that growth was dramatic. For example, attendance at ReThink Church in Merrillville grew by 60% last year (from 50 to 80). Rising Hope in Muncie and Hillside in Marion both reported 50% growth in their weekend worship services. LifeSpring Church, our oldest congregation (planted in 1843) grew by 131 (17%) and The River Church, one of our younger churches (planted in 2007) grew by 204 (28%).
Last year, we recorded 1148 professions of faith. That’s up from 851 in the previous year, an increase of 35%. Together, we baptized 620 people last conference year. That’s up 27% from the previous year (488) and the highest number of baptisms since 2016.
Larger and smaller churches, newer and older churches, rural and city churches, can all testify that God is on the move! Praise God for lives being transformed by the power of the Gospel!
Sadly, thirty of our churches reported no baptisms last year and 17 of our churches reported not a single new believer won to Christ in the past 12 months. May God never allow us to grow comfortable with empty altars and dry baptistries.
Your faithful USF contributions made it possible for the DBA to announce three positive initiatives:
The DBA recommended and the conference approved a change in our standing rules to reduce our combined USF assessment rate from 10% to 9% with the directive that each church use that 1% to create their own Church Multiplication Fund.
That 1% fund will be maintained by each local church. Your board will determine which DBA-approved church plants you want to help fund. You’ll decide whether to invest in a new campus. If your church chooses to invest in DBA-approved projects, that investment will be matched by dollars from our Great Commission Fund. For each of the next five years, we are budgeting $200,000 from that fund for matching grants. With 3 million people unreached in Indiana, we need every Crossroads District church to be passionately engaged in church multiplication.
Here are two resources to share with your team:
1. Dr. Bud Bence captured our Wesleyan history in Indiana in this video that you can use on a Sunday morning or in membership classes:
2. The full conference handbook with annual reports and statistics is available for download by clicking below:
Special thanks to Michael Wood and Kalina Carlson, our district office team, who invested countless hours and energy into making our time together such a positive experience. I can‘t wait for next year’s Crossroads District Conference, June 29, in Marion.
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. - We have one more iPad giveaway sponsored by Marv Miller and our friends at American Church Group, our Brotherhood Mutual agency. We have spun the wheel one more time and congratulations goes to newly ordained Rev. Nicholas Reynolds!
Sunday morning, June 18, I had the privilege of worshiping with Dr. Matthew Stewart and the team at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. It was a special day as they held their first worship service back in their newly remodeled worship center. Over the past few years, the church has tackled every space, including the parking lot, to make their campus as welcoming as possible to the people they’re inviting. Congratulations were extended, not just for the beautiful remodeling project, but for the even more exciting news that Sweetser Wesleyan baptized 6 new believers last year (more than 10% of their worship attendance).
On my way to Sweetser, I dropped in on Pastor Matthew Trexler and the team at The River. They were celebrating spiritual progress among their 130+ teenagers who attended Never The Same (NTS) Camp at IWU last week. Initial reports included 27 first-time decisions for Christ and 9 young people responding to God’s call to full-time ministry.
Crossroads District students were involved in at least three camps last week including Camp Hanging Rock (west of Lafayette), NTS Camp at IWU, and Fairmount Camp. Special thanks to every youth leader and volunteer staff member that made these life-changing experiences possible for our students.
On Monday evening, I attended Camp 180 at Fairmount Camp where Brent Dongell was serving as camp evangelist. Brent and I go back to our time together in Michigan and then we served together at Kingswood University. Brent is now on the faculty at Southern Wesleyan University and is completing his doctoral studies. Some of you may know Brent through Dr. Ollie Dongell, his father, who has been pastoring at Plymouth Wesleyan for the past 20 years.
The leadership team at Camp 180 was doing a great job of ministering to a “sold-out” week. I was able to connect with several of our district pastors who were volunteering including Rev. Dave Cox, Rev. Emily and Rev. David Hines, Rev. Andrew Kinney, and Rev. Rich Van Vuren.
Tuesday evening, Sherry and I connected with John & Lindsey Gorveatte at IWU where John was serving on the leadership team for NTS Camp Week One. Wes and Claudia Dupin, long-time friends from Michigan, were also in attendance to pray for and encourage leaders. Pastor Jacob Gibson (LifeSpring) and Pastor Steve Arnett (Mt. Zion) were two of our pastors that we found with their students before the evening rally.
Wednesday afternoon, I traveled over to the west side of our state to join Rev. Seth Merrill and his team at Hanging Rock Camp. While attendance was down slightly from previous years, the leaders and students were excited to share how God was working. Among others, I connected with Rev. Joe Jackson, Rev. Andrew Colaw, Rev. Alexander Henry, and Rev. Brent Kirby.
I enjoyed a day off with our family on Friday. Having three of our four grandchildren staying with us made the Father’s Day weekend very special!
On Saturday, Pastor Mike Colaw and the Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church LBA were meeting at Shunem House in Noblesville for a planning retreat. Pastor Mike was kind enough to invite me to sit in with their team as they had significant conversations about stewarding God’s favor on their ministry. They’re experiencing wonderful spiritual momentum and believing God for even greater days ahead!
Dr. Chris and Marrieta Williams graciously invited Sherry and me to witness the wedding of their son Sean to Jenna Dawson. Dr. Chris did a masterful job of wearing both his father and pastor hats for this beautiful wedding ceremony. Congratulations and prayers for God’s blessing on this amazing couple as they begin their new life together!
Pastor Scott McDermid and a youth missions team from Sheridan Six Points Church spent last week serving in Nashville, Tennessee. Pastor Scott enjoyed sharing this experience with his older son Caleb, and they also celebrated a baptism as one of their one teenagers publicly professed her faith in Christ!
Rev. Rob Tippey and the team at Wabash New Journey Community Church continued to give God praise for the powerful ways in which He is changing lives. They celebrated two more baptisms on Sunday as Nick and Xander publicly professed their faith in Christ.
Finally! This is the week of our annual Crossroads District Conference. We will gather this Saturday in Anderson at the Madison Park Church of God. Registration opens at 8:00 am and the first session begins promptly at 9:00 am. This year, we’re hosting our ordination service as part of conference proceedings beginning at 10:30 am. We’re delighted that Dr. Jo Anne Lyon has agreed to bring the ordination sermon on this special occasion. In addition to elections and recommended items of business (including lowering USF from 10% to 9%), we will be celebrating 175 years as a district conference since the very first gathering in 1848.
The District Conference Handbook is available for review at the following link:
If you can’t join us in person, please do remember us in prayer!
Your servant in Christ,
Please pray with us as our next generation of Wesleyan leaders gather in Cincinnati for Follow Conference this December. Seminars and workshops will be available for pastors and parents so make please every effort to attend!
Sunday morning, June 11, I had the privilege of bringing greetings and worshiping with Pastor Andy & Leanza Riemersma at ONE Church in Westfield. This is an exciting new congregation led by a passionate team of young adults. They averaged 89 last year in worship with 20 professions of faith and 8 baptisms. Plans are coming together for a big transition next year as they relocate their worship services from their current facility into the new YMCA being built in Westfield on the Monon Trail.
Following the service, I hosted the Riemersma family over lunch and an encouraging conversation about what God is doing at ONE Church. Be praying as Andy and Leanza count down less than four weeks to the due date for their second child and continue to lead ONE Church in reaching their community for Christ.
Sunday afternoon, I met with Rev. Jon Noggle and his leadership team at Elwood Central Wesleyan Church. This has been a year of transition and adjustment with a new pastor but there is a growing sense of momentum at Central Wesleyan with 7 baptisms last month!
Sunday evening, I joined the team at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church for a town hall meeting. The LBA has approved a two-month sabbatical for Pastor Johnnie Blair and it was helpful to brief the congregation on the journey ahead. We’re excited that Rev. Jim and Jerolyn Bogear will be ministering to the Trinity Church family for six of the weeks while Pastor Blair is on sabbatical. Jerolyn and Jim (originally from Fairmount, Indiana) will be teaching from their Faith Legacy resources for families. You can learn more about their ministry here:
Last week’s schedule started out with our office staff meeting in Marion on Monday followed by a district conference planning session led by Dr. Chris Williams. Tuesday’s calendar included coaching conversations with Rev. David Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan), Rev. Mike Henry (Fort Wayne Level 13 Church), and Rev. Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers). On the way back home, I dropped in at Huntington Hope Rising Church to catch up with Assistant Pastor Rev. Angela Spangler and Assistant Pastor Mason Yopp, who were leading a great team of volunteers in offering their first team VBS in several years.
It’s fun to see the creative ways in which our churches reach out and serve the next generation. Rev. Phil Carder, pastor at The Branch in Lafayette sent along this photo from their Foam Party last Tuesday night that connected with 40 children in addition to extended family members, almost all from their neighborhood.
Tuesday closed out with a DBA meeting via ZOOM. We decided on some exciting initiatives for presentation at our district conference and the DBA also graciously approved my sabbatical request for this coming fall (October 15 through November 20).
Wednesday morning, I interviewed prospective church planters in Marion and then represented our district family at the celebration of life for Mrs. Brenda Dykhoff. Continue to remember Rev. Ken Dykhoff, Ms. Heather Dykoff, and Rev. Shawnda Dykhoff in your prayers.
Rev. Jim Bogear, Rev. Johnnie Blair, and I met for lunch on Thursday to prepare for the ministry schedule at Tipton Trinity this summer while Johnnie is on sabbatical.
Saturday morning, I was in Indianapolis to meet with Rev. Grace Lopez and the team at Monte de Sion. Rev. Lopez leads our district FLAMA program for Spanish-language ministerial education, but has also stepped up to provide effective leadership to this congregation through a season of transition.
From Monte de Sion, I jumped over to Divine Direction Church where Pastor Gawin Anderson and his leadership team were engaged in a ministry planning day facilitated by Rev. Johnnie Blair. This planning event was a follow-up to the Next Level Experience training that Pastor Gawin attended in Marion earlier this year. I was encouraged by the conversations they are having about future growth and Kingdom impact.
We are always glad to receive and pass along reports of how God is working in our churches. While 29 of our churches reported no baptisms last conference year, praise the Lord for the 76 churches that celebrated at least one baptism. Twenty of our churches reported 10 or more baptisms.
Wabash New Journey Church was one of those with 13 baptisms in the last conference and this year is off to an even stronger start. We’re rejoicing with Pastor Rob Tippey and New Journey Church as God continues to change lives in Wabash!
The River Church is another of those churches with 73 baptisms recorded last year. During the first 6 weeks of this new conference year, they have already celebrated with more than 30 people who have publicly professed faith in Christ.
This week, I invite you to join me in praying for the hundreds of students who will be ministered to by our youth leaders gathering both at “Never The Same Camp” on the IWU campus and the sold-out “180 Camp” meeting at the Fairmount Camp. These camping experiences have seen so many students commit their lives to Christ and even commit their lives to full-time ministry. Pray that Holy Spirit will move powerfully once again!
We’re less than two weeks away from our Crossroads District Conference. Doors open for registration at 8:00 a.m. and the conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. For friends and family of the ordination candidates who want to join us for the celebration of ordination, please note that seating will begin at 10:15 a.m. The service will begin at 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be served onsite for all registered delegates. We’re believing God for a great day together.
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Pray with us for a fresh move of God among our next generation of Wesleyan leaders who will be gathering in Cincinnati for Follow Conference this December. Seminars and workshops will be available for pastors and parents so make please every effort to attend!
Sunday morning, June 4, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Dr. Craig and Tiffany Thurmon at The Encounter Assembly (TEA) in Lawrence. Pastor Craig and Tiffany launched the church from their living room in 2019, just before the pandemic. They quickly developed their online ministry which continues to be a vital part of their ministry today.
The church currently rents space for Sunday morning gatherings but continues to offer discipleship and prayer ministry through the week via ZOOM. Following the service, we enjoyed catching up over lunch. Pastor Craig, in addition to working full-time for the US Department of Defense, coaching, and leading the church, recently completed his PhD in organizational leadership from Columbia International University. We’re also grateful for Dr. Thurmon’s service to our team as District Secretary.
Last week’s shorter schedule included coaching conversations with Rev. Josh Bowlin (Marion Chapel Pike), Rev. Eric Roemer (Greentown Wesleyan), Rev. Theo Griffin (Greenfield Brown’s Chapel), and Rev. David Shafer (North Anderson Wesleyan). With the Monday holiday, our district staff meeting took place on Wednesday and I also met with Rev. Johnnie Blair (Tipton Trinity) that afternoon to work on details for his sabbatical this summer.
Thursday evening, I met with Dr. Joe Harmon and the LBA at New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church. Dr. Joe is retiring but has agreed to continue part-time while the LBA continues the search for their next pastor. If you know of a great pastor to lead this church, please pass along this link: https://secure.wesleyan.org/job/frame/9062
On Saturday afternoon, Plymouth Wesleyan Church honored Dr. Oliver and Reata Dongell for their 20 years of fruitful ministry. Pastor Ollie has served the church effectively since 2003 and is moving toward retirement, although he won’t be slowing down too much. The church has experienced growth, facility expansion, and community impact under Dr. Dongell’s leadership and I’ve enjoyed the privilege of serving with him here in the Crossroads District. Rev. Chris Taylor, formerly the teaching pastor at Crosswinds Wesleyan Church (Canadaigua, NY), has accepted the call to serve as Plymouth Wesleyan’s new pastor beginning this summer.
Rev. Scott and Erin Ferguson have come home to the Crossroads District and will be leading Harvest Church after serving at Southland Church in Lexington, KY for the past several years. Prior to that, Rev. Ferguson served on staff at LifeSpring Church in Richmond. Yesterday was his first Sunday preaching at Harvest and we’re glad to welcome the Ferguson’s back home!
Pastor Barry Dixon and the team at Indianapolis Calvary Family Church are celebrating changed lives. They baptized 4 new believers on Sunday, May 28, and then baptized three more yesterday, June 4. Pastor Barry and Joyce have been working and praying for a breakthrough coming back from the pandemic.
Pastor Barry shared this good news and photos via text along with this scripture promise that the Holy Spirit had dropped in his spirit: “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:16
Pastor David Dignal and the team at Edgerton Wesleyan Church are rejoicing with five new believers who were baptized on May 28, including one entire family of four! Good things are happening at Edgerton Wesleyan with 15 professions of faith recorded last year.
Pastor Sam Maddox and the team at Albion Wesleyan Church are celebrating another baptism as God continues to bless their ministry. Albion Wesleyan grew by 11% last year in worship (from 46 to 51) and celebrated 9 baptisms last conference year. Praise the Lord!
Pastor Ryan Budde and the team at Jonesboro Westview Wesleyan Church had the joy of baptizing two more new believers last month. This past conference year, Westview grew by 17% in worship attendance (from 132 to 155) and baptized 19 new believers! Praise the Lord for lives being #MadeNew!
Our prayers and condolences are extended to the family and friends of Mrs. Brenda Dykhoff, wife of Rev. Ken Dykhoff and mother of Rev. Shawnda (Dykhoff) Bilbee. Brenda was promoted to glory last week after an extended illness that could not overshadow a life of ministry and service to others. The memorial service will be held this Wednesday, June 7, at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church. You may access her obituary and arrangements here:
We’re just three weeks away from our Crossroads District Conference. Door opens for registration at 8:00 a.m. and the conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. For friends and family of the ordination candidates who want to join us for the celebration of ordination, please note that seating will begin at 10:15 a.m. The service will begin at 10:30 a.m. We’re believing God for a great day together!
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Please join us in praying for a fresh move of God among our next generation of Wesleyan leaders who will be gathering in Cincinnati for Follow Conference this December. Seminars and workshops will be available for pastors and parents so make please every effort to attend!