Responding In Crisis
A devastating tornado ripped through Kokomo this past week. While our two churches in the city were not damaged, hundreds in the city were left homeless. Rev. Marc Watkins, pastor of Kokomo Trinity Wesleyan, is a volunteer chaplain with the Kokomo Police Department and was part of the early response team. Pastor Marc has been in constant dialogue with response team leaders on the front lines of the relief efforts. Remarkably, there was no loss of life and for this we thank God. Immediate needs include financial assistance for those who lost everything and volunteers to help in the clean-up.
Thank you to each Crossroads District church who remembered the people of Kokomo in prayer yesterday and provided an opportunity for the congregation to help financially. I already received word last evening that Brookhaven Wesleyan Church raised nearly $1200 in their special offering. For more information about how you and your church can assist, please visit the Crossroads District Facebook page.
Sunday, August 28, Assistant DS Chris Williams was in Fort Wayne to preach at Lifeway Church and I was in Lafayette to preach at Evergreen Wesleyan Church. Pastor Joe and Nancy Park faithfully serve the Evergreen congregation in Lafayette and it was encouraging to see the steps they are taking to reach out to their community. Recognizing that one of their constraints was a lack of off-street parking, the church acquired an adjacent property and is completing a project that will provide 15 additional spaces.
The church has a baptism service planned for September 11. They are also planning a “Grandparents Day” outreach when grandpas and grandmas invited their children and grandchildren to worship with them. The church is also growing in ethnic diversity that reflects the community around them. I commend Pastor Joe and Nancy for their faithful and effective leadership at Evergreen.
Sunday evening, I was in Fowler for a congregation meeting at Hope Wesleyan Church. This is a small congregation in a rural community. Pastor Jim Bretzinger has been lovingly ministering here since 2011 but announced last Sunday that he’ll be concluding his service on October 30 due to health concerns and will be relocating to Lafayette. The church is not in the financial position to call another pastor but the outcome of last evening’s meeting was a commitment by the group to carry on ministry with lay leadership through this conference year. They are making plans to share the preaching, to restart a home Bible study and to begin preparing for a Christmas Eve outreach. I know they will welcome your prayers.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting with Crossroads District pastors for our annual coaching conversations. On Wednesday, I met with Mike Colaw (Indianapolis Trinity) and David Anderson (Fountain City). On Thursday, I met with Matthew Trexler (Marion The River) and Jason Tash (Columbia City New Hope). These are meaningful opportunities to learn how God is at work in each of their lives and ministries.
Thursday afternoon, Dr. David Smith convened a planning meeting for our regional DBMD directors. Dr. Jim Lo (Region 1) and Pastor Mike Cloud (Region 3) were in the room. Dr. Rich Schenck (Region 2) joined us from Australia via Skype. This is a great team to give direction to the leadership development initiatives of our new district and more than 100 students on the ordination track. You’ll be hear more in the near future but I am delighted with their focus on mentoring and the role of the sending church. The prayer of the Harvest is always that the Father would send out more laborers!
Some of you have been tracking the developments of Fall Creek Wesleyan Church. After a Maximizing Impact consultation last spring led by Rev. Paul James, the congregation determined to take a huge step of faith to reverse their decline. Interim Pastor Patty Bray recommended and the congregation overwhelmingly voted to become a campus of Indianapolis Trinity. Jon Wiest, Minister of Multiplication at Trinity, has been leading this turnaround. While the most significant work is in the ministry of the church, the community took notice this week as Trinity East on Olio Road did more landscaping and added a new sign. Pray for this team as they reach out with God’s love to their growing community.
Congratulations to Pastor Clifton Ashlock and the Anderson Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church as they celebrated their first year anniversary as a merged congregation and baptized 7 new believers yesteday. This is a wonderful story of new beginnings!
Condolences are extended from our district family to the family of Mrs. Ruthanne Emery, wife of Dr. O.D. Emery, former General Superintendent, and mother of Dr. Steve Emery, our retired Indiana Central District Superintendent. I was able to view the service online Friday morning and it was a beautiful celebration of the life of this beloved woman of God. Memories shared that morning included her years as an active member in our Michigantown and Lebanon churches.
On Saturday morning, I attended the funeral service for Dr. Evrett Smith, long-time member of the IWU Board of Trustees, at College Wesleyan Church. Terry Munday brought a personal tribute as a close friend of Dr. Smith’s and Dr. Steve DeNeff shared a challenging message on the theme “Do You Believe This?”
This week, I’m looking forward to several more coaching conversations with our pastors and then I will be preaching at Calvary Family Church in Indianapolis on Sunday. Our offices will be closed next Monday for Labor Day. Don’t forget the Wesleyan Married Couples Retreat coming up at Fairmount Camp on September 9-11. You can find more information and register online at: http://www.fairmountcamp.org
There’s still time to register for ReEquip 2016. We have two challenging speakers this year in Hugh Halter and Tom Mercer. The story of High Desert Church growing from less than 200 to more than 10,000 under Tom’s leadership is truly remarkable. For more information and to register, go to http://www.reequipconference.org/
Thank you for all you do to advance His Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, August 21, I was blessed to sit under the ministry of Dr. Jim Lo who was the Bible teacher for the Old Time Camp Meeting at Fairmount Camp. It was also good to connect with my old friend Rev. Greg Reynolds, District Superintendent of the Shenandoah District. Greg and Becky led worship this week and always do a terrific job. I was encouraged to hear the positive report of the services and attendance from Mrs. Angela Spangler, OTCM Director, and to visit briefly with Pastor Al and Ginny Soultz. This event is a wonderful step in expanding the ministry of Fairmount Camp. Thank you to each one who volunteered to make this camp a success.
While I was in Fairmount, Asst. DS Chris Williams was representing the Crossroads District at Chesterton Expansion Church where Pastor Tom Cochrane was hosting Rev. Marc Ulrich, lead planter for Merrillville ReThink Church. Pastor Tom challenged members of the congregation to consider joining the launch team at ReThink Church. Over the last few weeks, three new families have started regularly attending Expansion Church and two families dedicated their children to the Lord this morning. Expansion just completed a basketball camp in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and had guests checking out the church today from that outreach.
Sunday evening, our family gathered at Stoney Creek Church in Detroit for the East Michigan District Ordination Service. John, our oldest son, and Lindsey, his wife, were ordained in a service that featured an inspiring message by Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent. I had the privilege of praying over John and Dr. David Smith (Wesley Seminary) prayed over Lindsey. This is always one of the most significant ministries that we conduct in our church but it took on special meaning for our family this evening. John and Lindsey both serve on staff at Stoney Creek Church with Pastor Steve McCuen. Special thanks to DS Richard Meeks and the East Michigan DBMD for their leadership in this special service.
If what you’re trying to accomplish is small enough you can accomplish it alone…dream bigger! I don’t know who said that first but I do know that it will take a team to accomplish the task of making an impact on the 3 million unreached people in our district.
This was the first week for the new Crossroads District staff to work together. For the past few weeks Mrs. Roxene Lo and I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Rev. Chris Williams (Assistant DS) and Mrs. Raleigh Pedro (Executive Ministry Partner/ Hispanic Ministry Coordinator). Monday was our first staff meeting and time for lunch together. It was great to plan and pray together for the first time. Having a district staff with a variety of skills is one of the strengths of our new district. Please know that we value your prayers and are excited about serving you and your team as together we make disciples and multiply churches.
On Monday evening, our Hispanic Zone pastors met at Frankfort First Wesleyan. We always have a great time of fellowship and encouragement (along with delicious meals) but a special highlight of this gathering was welcoming Rev. Ernest Batman, retired Indiana Central DS. Pastor Rodriguez took this opportunity to express his appreciation for the friendship and support of Rev. Batman to the Hispanic ministry in Frankfort. Frankfort First Wesleyan is hosting “Templo de Poder” in their facility and really enjoying their partnership.
Tuesday morning, Pastor Raleigh and I worked out of the office in Fishers. I had the opportunity to connect with Rev. Jesse Pratt and Rev. Mike Black as they were in town for the Church Planter Assessment Center. Tuesday evening, Sherry and I welcomed Rev. Scott and Elizabeth Rhyno and their family for supper as they arrived in Indianapolis. Scott is the new leader for Generous Living initiatives at Wesleyan headquarters. We had the privilege of working with the Rhynos at Kingswood University for 5 years. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know their family and welcoming them to Indiana.
Wednesday morning, I joined the Church Planters Assessment Center (CPAC) for the project presentations. It was insightful to hear the two teams bring church planting proposals for Plainfield and Fishers. John and Danielle Freed also served at this week’s session of CPAC. Wednesday afternoon, I met with the Pastor Steve Martin and the staff of Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church as they make plans to participate in a Maximizing Impact Consultation later this fall. I closed out the day meeting with one of our pastoral couples back at the office in Fishers.
Thursday morning, I was blessed to connect with Dr. Tim Roehl. Tim and Shirley, his wife, now serve with OMS but for several years Tim helped to lead coaching and church multiplication efforts for our denomination. In the afternoon, I met with Tom Flanagan, a Christian businessman in the Indy area to prepare for an upcoming ministry opportunity.
Friday morning, I was in Marion to sign closing documents with Pastor Brent Miller as Gas City Southside Wesleyan Church took the positive step of acquiring adjacent property. In addition to leading a growing church and growing family, Pastor Brent found time to complete his undergraduate degree this summer at Indiana Wesleyan University. Congratulations, Pastor Miller!
I met with Rev. Ron & Joy Weller on Friday for an exploratory conversation. Ron and Joy have deep roots in our district and are seeking God’s direction for next steps in ministry.
I finished Friday back in Fishers with Dr. Norman Wilson for a coaching conversation with one of our Hispanic leaders. Dr. Wilson is a dear brother and valued member of the Crossroads District team serving on our DBA. He and Kim, his wife, invest deeply in the lives and ministries of our Hispanic congregations.
(For those who are helping to hold me accountable, I did take the day off on Saturday.)
This week I’m looking forward to beginning “Coaching Conversations” with our pastors. These conversations are helpful for me in understanding the joys and challenges of our local church leaders here in the Crossroads District. Rev. Chris Williams and Dr. David Smith, our new DBMD Chair, will convene a meeting of DBMD leaders to begin mapping out our pathway to ordination in the expanded district.
I love reading reports of what God is doing across our district. Please feel free to post stories and pictures on our Facebook page so we can rejoice together. I’ve already heard about baptism services yesterday at LifeWay Church in New Haven, from Waterline Church in Noblesville, and from Lancaster Wesleyan Church. Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,