New Journey, LBA Meetings, and Baptisms
Sherry and I enjoyed worshiping with Rev. Rob and Melinda Tippey at Wabash New Journey Community Church on Sunday morning, August 30. In person attendance was strong again yesterday with many young families and several IWU students. I had the privilege of installing Pastor Tippey on behalf of our Crossroads District team. Pastor Rob cast vision in an anointed message about “The Church I See” from Luke 14:25-33. He challenged the church with the reminder that “we’re not here to fill seats, we are here to make disciples.”
After the service, we joined the Tippey’s and the young adults of the church for a delicious meal. New Journey was blessed to be launched by Pastors Tom & Sarah Cochran. Pastor Brian & Jessica Scramlin followed the founding pastors and built well on that foundation. Pray for Pastor Rob and Melinda as they lead New Journey into this next exciting chapter of impacting Wabash with the Gospel.
I connected with the Level 13 Church leadership team last Monday evening and confirmed interim ministry plans and their upcoming StratOp consultation with Jason Tash on October 2-3. Tuesday, I met with the Crossroads District team at Abbey Coffee in the morning. Sherry and I hosted the Hartford City Wesleyan Church staff for a meeting and supper at our place on Tuesday evening.
Wednesday included a flurry of calls, texts and emails. The best news of the day was the phone call from Pastor Mark Atkinson that he was being transferred to IU Health’s Blackford Hospital so he can rehab closer to home. Wednesday evening, I met with the LBA at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church as they confirmed plans for the interim until Mark is healthy enough to return. They have a strong staff team that will be sharing the load for this vital ministry. While we were meeting, Pastor Mark sent us a photo via text so we returned the favor.
Thursday afternoon, I met with Dr. Mark Eckart via Zoom for an extended discussion about possible merits and models for more collaborative ministry between the Indiana South and Crossroads district. Mark continues to heal from a recent procedure on his vocal cords and is grateful for our prayers. Thursday evening, Seth Bye and I hosted a Zoom meeting for our pastors on communication they had received from the district office. The issue of effective ministry to persons who struggle with same sex attraction is a growing challenge in our congregations and colleges. Our aim is to minister with love and an optimistic view of God’s grace that can empower people to live in freedom.
Friday, I dropped in on Rev. Rick Carder and the DBMD Zone team that was meeting with ministerial candidates at Eastview Wesleyan Church in Gas City. The DBMD (District Board of Ministerial Development) plays a key role in helping individuals process their calling and walk with them as they prepare for a lifetime of vocational ministry. I am grateful for each of our ministers and lay leaders who collectively volunteer hundreds of hours each year to serve alongside our students in this significant assignment.
Mr. Carl Shepherd led a group of us serving on subcommittee of the General Board in a Zoom meeting on Friday afternoon. The postponing of General Conference allowed for additional refinement of proposed memorials that will be considered by the board at its fall meeting. Carl and Vicki are actively involved at Indianapolis Trinity Church and Carl also chairs the IWU Board of Trustees. We’re praying with Carl and Vicki as Vicki battles cancer.
Friday evening and all day Saturday, I served with Rev. Jason Tash as he led the Hartford City Wesleyan Church in a StratOp planning retreat. Jason is currently serving as VP for Development at Destiny Rescue but also graciously serves as part of our district team for these weekend consultations. The team at Hartford City Wesleyan Church worked well together in processing through the planning elements. Pray for HCWC as they move through this transition time and prepare to launch their pastoral search.
I am always excited to hear from our pastors with reports of changed lives and baptism celebrations. Pastor Lyle Breeding shared the good news that he and Assistant Pastor Lane Sander had the joy of baptizing 5 new believers at Sonlight Wesleyan Church in Bluffton. Praise the Lord for lives #madenew!
Rev. Aldean Pablo, our church planter in Roanoke/SW Fort Wayne reported 10 baptisms and more than 130 in attendance for an outdoor worship celebration this past Sunday at SEND Church in their cooperative ministry with the Sonrise UMC campus. Pastor Aldean had the special privilege of baptizing his son, Eleazar. Praise God for lives #madenew!
Please continue to pray for healing grace to our pastors with physical concerns: Rev. Mark Atkinson (Gas City Eastview), Rev. Nicolas Zarate (Circle of Hope), and Pastor Steve Arnett (New Castle Mt. Zion).
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to the family and friends of Rev. Ray Hood, a retired minister who served for many years as pastor of Fishersburg Wesleyan Church. Rev. Hood passed away last week and his funeral will be held on Tuesday, September 1, at the Whetsel Funeral Service in Alexandria.
We believe that prayer makes a difference. We are inviting district pastors and lay leaders to join us for a concert of prayer at 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 20, at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion. Dr. Jim Lo will be leading us in this prayer time with a special focus on revival in our churches. We would love to have you join us.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I enjoyed worshiping at our home church on Sunday morning. Waterline Church was our neighborhood church when we first moved to Indiana. Pastor John and Danielle Freed welcomed us as members in 2015 and we’ve appreciated the evangelistic passion that still marks the church today. Earlier this summer, John and Danielle transitioned into a staff role leading church planting with the Great Lake District. The lead team has been working diligently through a pastoral search process and we met together after the morning service. Following the leadership team meeting, Sherry and I were delighted to host the staff for lunch. Please pray for Waterline as they seek the Lord for their new lead pastor.
Sunday evening, Sherry and I joined the church family at Hartford City Wesleyan Church for a hymn sing and ice cream fellowship. It was heart-warming to share in singing these well-loved songs of the church. They topped off the evening with an ice cream sundae buffet. About 50 people joined us for this evening of fellowship and inspiration. This was the first congregation-wide event hosted by the church since March. Thank you to Josh Munoz, worship director, and his team for putting this event together. I am having a lot of fun serving with John Bonham, Administrative Director, and the other members of the ministry team at HCWC while we work through this transition period between pastors.
Wesley Seminary honored its 2020 graduates in an online commencement ceremony on Saturday afternoon, August 22. IWU President David Wright and Wesley Seminary President Colleen Derr brought greetings to this graduation class. Congratulations to members of our district team who graduated this year including Rev. Ryan Van Matre, campus pastor at Richmond LifeSpring South, and Jordan Rife, worship pastor at College Wesleyan. Dr. Derr reports that Wesley Seminary is off to a great start in this new academic year with record enrollment in July (502 students).
Assistant DS Matthew Trexler has been leading a cohort of pastors in Region 1 who meet on one Monday morning each month for the past year for learning and encouragement. I was able to drop in on this week’s session and was encouraged to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness in this season. Iron does sharpen iron and we are better together.
Monday afternoon, I met with Rev. Johanna Rugh and her husband Robert. The Rugh’s have moved to Indiana with Johanna continuing her service at Wesleyan headquarters working with Education and Clergy Development with special attention focused on FLAMA, our ministerial training program for Hispanic pastors. It was also good to catch up with Dr. David Drury and hear more about how God is at work in the growing network of house churches that now spans coast to coast.
Tuesday morning, I checked in on the staff at Eastview Wesleyan Church before heading to Marion to meet with our district office team. Tuesday afternoon, I joined Wesleyans online for the Welcome 2020 Conference hosted by our own Rev. Zach Szmara, pastor at Logansport The Bridge Wesleyan Church. One of the celebration points was the Immigrant Connection has now served more than 8000 people from 120 countries. I am thankful for Zach’s leadership as Executive Director for this important ministry that equips churches to help people enter the legal process for immigration. For more information, here’s the link to their website: https://www.wesleyan.org/discipleship/immigrant-connection
Wednesday’s meetings included Dr. Bob Hallett (interim pastor at Lancaster Wesleyan Church), Rev. Jeff Brady (Marion Commoners House Church), and Dr. Jeremy Summers who has returned from a season in the south. I was able to visit with Pastor Mark and Ronda on Thursday at the hospital in Fort Wayne. It was a blessing to be able to represent our district team as we joined together in prayer. The good news this past weekend was that Pastor Mark is improving and could soon be released to a rehabilitation facility. His family and the church are posting regular updates on Facebook for those who want to follow more closely. Thank you for continuing to pray with us for his full recovery.
Friday included sermon preparation for Sunday morning at Waterline. I also hosted an online meeting with our Assistant District Superintendents in preparation for an important letter that will be coming to our district pastors. If you are a lead pastor in our district, please check your email on Wednesday.
Saturday morning, August 22, Assistant DS Mike Colaw (pastor at Indy Trinity) hosted a Zoom meeting for pastors in Region 2. I appreciated the opportunity to hear how God is faithfully at work in our different settings. Pastor Theo Griffin brought a praise report of a baptism last week at Greenfield Brown’s Chapel, with two more planned for the near future. Pastor Mike reported that 3 more people have recently testified to a call to ministry for a total of 10 young leaders that he is mentoring. He also shared some exciting opportunities that they will be offering for Region 2 pastors in their monthly leadership development meetings this fall.
Congratulations to Rev. John and Sherryl Wrightsman on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. John and Sherryl have served both in local church ministry and then with Indiana Wesleyan University before officially retiring. We are thankful for their ministry and their beautiful example of a Christ-centered marriage.
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Ordination 2020 and Baptisms
Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, delivered an anointed message and presided over this year’s Crossroads District ordination service on Saturday afternoon, August 15. This class of 15 ordinands was multi-generational (from Millennials to Boomers), multi-ethnic (Asian, African-American, and Latino), with seven women and eight men, and this cohort included five church planters. I am grateful for Dr. David Smith and our District Board of Ministerial Development, and for the many ordained ministers of our Crossroads District team who blessed this service with their presence.
The following ministers were ordained: Rev. Stephan Binns (Anderson Lone Oak Wesleyan Church), Rev. Marcus DePeal (Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church), Rev. Bernedette Haddad (New Castle Eden Unleashed), Rev. Rochelle Jenkins (Indianapolis Circle City Church), Rev. Amy Luedtke (Fairmount Wesleyan Church), Rev. Nathan Metz (Newark Community Church), Rev. Lee Miller (Muncie Memorial Drive Wesleyan Church), Rev. Titus Romdenh (WGM), Rev. Jessica Teegarden (Marion Hillside Wesleyan Church while applyying for military chaplaincy), Rev. Craig Thurmon Sr. (Indianapolis The Encounter Assembly), Rev. Laura Walls (Fishers Waterline Church), Rev. Jared Webb (Marion Lakeview Churc), Rev. Adriana Zarate (Circle of Hope Network), and Rev. Nicholas Zarate (Circle of Hope Network). Elizabeth Rhyno (Fishers Waterline) was unable to be present due to a family medical emergency in Canada. We were also honored to affirm the ordination of Rev. Ron Ferguson (Grant City Wesleyan Church) who transferred to us from the Church of the Nazarene.
Fairmount Wesleyan Church’s The Branch Coffee Shop provided wonderful refreshments for the reception that followed the service. Thank you, Velvet Haisley, for taking such good care of us. Special thanks to Rev. Chris Williams, Lead Pastor, and his team at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church for the gracious way they hosted our district family for this sacred event. Their facility staff and technical team went the second mile to accommodate us and to provide the online streaming for those who could not be present. This year’s service was extra special for the Lakeview Wesleyan team since their own assistant pastor Rev. Jared Webb was one of this year’s ordinands.
Many of you have been following the health updates for Rev. Mark Atkinson, senior pastor at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church. Rev. Atkinson had emergency surgery last Monday which included a triple by-pass operation. He had some complications earlier in the week but is now making encouraging progress. The restrictions on visits has made this especially difficult for Ronda, Mark’s wife, and his family. Pastor Mark and Ronda appreciate your prayers and support.
Last week included meetings with Dr. Mark Eckart, Indiana South DS, on Monday in Greenwood. I am grateful for Dr. Eckart’s wisdom and his friendship. Tuesday, I hosted our monthly Zoom meeting for district pastors with one session at 10 a.m. and the second at 8 p.m. Praying together in the breakout rooms continues to be a highlight and pastors from across the district are becoming better acquainted as we share with each other.
Tuesday also included an important training session for our DBMD leaders as the Department of Education and Clergy Development prepares to roll out a new credentialing process for our ministerial students. These changes are significant but should empower local churches for a more meaningful role in credentialing their own ministerial students and local staff.
Wednesday, I was able to head north to connect with some of our pastors in the South Bend area. Rev. Don Bayne (New Carlisle Wesleyan) and I met for lunch and then Pastor Don walked me through the impressive work they’ve done in updating their foyer and auditorium. They’ve upgraded their technology and added beautiful decorating touches that surprised the congregation as they returned to the building.
Pastor Matt Ohime and I connected at Davis Wesleyan Church. Before we had a time of prayer together, Pastor Ohime showed me through the remarkable job they’ve done in completely remodeling the interior of their worship center. Technology has also been addressed and they’ve complemented the dramatic interior changes with landscaping improvements and attractive new signs.
Pastor Ben and Kirsten Jones (Beaver Creek Wesleyan Church) met me in South Bend for supper. It was my first opportunity to visit with Kirsten. The newlyweds are doing well as they settle into their new ministry and new home. My last stop of the day was to check in on Rev. Terry and Lennaire Vaughn (South Bend The Bridge Urban Church). The Vaughn’s are doing a remarkable job of building a disciple-making movement in the city and we’re grateful for the privilege of partnering with them.
Thursday morning, I checked in on the Eastview staff and met with Seth Bye. Thursday afternoon I dropped in for a visit and prayer with Rev. Mark and Sharie Schnell (Albion Wesleyan Church). Mark would be grateful for your prayers as he puts the finishing touches on the doctoral dissertation while teaching for IWU and pastoring part-time.
This Sunday morning, I had the joy of worshiping with and preaching for Hartford City Wesleyan Church. On Sunday evening, Rev. David Dignal joined me as I met with the congregation of Fort Wayne Level 13 Church to assist them in their pastoral transition. Please pray with the team at Level 13 as they move into a season in interim ministry before beginning their pastoral search.
On the way home from Fort Wayne, I caught up with Pastor Aldean Pablo who is planting SEND church in southwest Allen County. It was encouraging to hear the doors that God is opening for this ministry. Last Sunday evening, they had over 50 people show up for a vision-casting meeting and they are planning a baptism service for later this month.
The best news of all this week was more baptisms! Pastor David Cox, Assistant Pastor Joshua Warren, and the team at Laketon Wesleyan Church celebrated baptism in the lake. Pastor Jeremy Armiger, Assistant Pastor Dr. Lo, and the team celebrated two baptisms at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church. Praise God for more lives being #MadeNew!
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for all eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, August 9, I had the privilege of representing our Crossroads District team to install Rev. Chris Williams as the lead pastor at Lakeview Wesleyan Church. Lakeview was launched as a church plant back in 1960 by Pastor Gene Cockrell. This congregation has long been a vital ministry for Grant County with a global outreach.
Rev. Williams, immediately after graduating from IWU, served on staff at Lakeview with Pastor David Terhune. Now, God has brought Pastor Chris back full circle to lead this ministry after gaining a wealth of experience in district administration, church planting, and revitalization leadership. We are excited to see what God has in store for Lakeview in this new season as Rev. Williams leads their team forward for Kingdom impact.
In addition to two ZOOM meetings with Dr. Schmidt and the General Board, last week’s calendar included two staff meetings on Tuesday, one with Crossroads District and another with Hartford City Wesleyan Church.
Also on Tuesday, I received a call from Pastor Heath Croft to let me know that he had accepted a call to become pastor of Mentone Wesleyan Church in Alabama beginning in September. I met with the leadership team of Fort Wayne Level 13 Church on Thursday evening to work on transition planning. I will join the congregation for a family conversation on Sunday evening, August 16. Please pray with me that God will grant wisdom and unity in this transition.
The Global Leadership Summit was held online this year. Through the generosity of Pastor Mark Atkinson, I was able to join him and his team members at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church for some excellent sessions on Friday. In one of the helpful presentations, Lysa TerKeurst shared insights about the importance of forgiveness for creating innovation space in organizations. She cited this article from Forbes magazine titled “Forgiveness: The Secret to Innovation.” Christian organizations should be able to get this right. One of her helpful pointers was: “The best time to forgive is before we are offended. The next best time is now.”
This week, I was able to catch up with Pastor Dan Van Cise (Marion 8th Street Wesleyan) on Thursday and Dr. Steve DeNeff (Marion College Wesleyan Church) on Friday just to drop off a gift and thank them for their leadership through this pandemic.
Dr. DeNeff returned this week from preaching at the Brown City Camp Meeting in Michigan. He shared the beautiful response as the Holy Spirit settled in during their services. One of the key points he made was that we, the Church in America today, have lost our voice because we have lost our hearing. Here is the link to that Sunday evening message Pastor Steve preached: Brown City Camp Meeting.
Pastor Alan Downing and the team at Frankfort Connecting Point Church linked up with the mayor and other community leaders to provide back-to-school supplies, gifts, and 600 hotdogs for children in their neighborhood. This year’s effort was a drive-thru event to support physical distancing requirements.
Congratulations to Greentown Wesleyan Church on the 100th Anniversary of the founding of their congregation on August 8, 1920. Reverend Anna Linville was appointed by the district conference to serve as their first pastor. The first quarterly conference of the Greentown church was held on September 3, 1920. Class Leader Harold Sloan recorded the following: “The Lord meets with us. We expect great things from the Lord.” Pastor Eric Roemer and his team have done a great job retelling the story of the past while casting a compelling vision for the future.
I loved hearing from Mrs. Pat Breeding, wife of Pastor Lyle Breeding, about the two pre-teen girls who came to see her in the church office to give their lives to Christ. Bluffton Sonlight Wesleyan Church has a baptism service scheduled for August 30 and Pat is working with them to prepare for this next step of faith. Dr. Jim Lo, Assistant Pastor at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church, shared the news that a mother and two teenage daughters received Christ this past week as God used the church’s faithful prayer walks and door-to-door evangelism to touch their hearts.
Pastor Scott McDermid and the congregation of Sheridan Six Points Church celebrated four baptisms in one family on Sunday morning, August 9. Praise the Lord for lives being made new by the Gospel!
Brookhaven Wesleyan Church also celebrated baptisms this week. Six youth and children stepped forward to publicly declare their new life in Christ in a beautiful outdoor baptism service. Thank you, Children’s Pastor Michele Henry, for sharing this exciting report!
Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent, will lead our 2020 Crossroads District ordination service this Saturday, August 15, 1 p.m. at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion. Ordained ministers will be gathering at 12:30 for a group photo and final instructions. Spatial distancing and face mask guidelines will be followed. The limited seating is available by reservation only. Please join us in praying that God will meet with each of our ordination candidates in a special way on this sacred occasion,
PASTORS ZOOM Connection – Just a gentle reminder that this Tuesday, August 11, we’ll be hosting our monthly ZOOM connection for Crossroads District Pastors. We’ll offer two options to connect, one at 10:00 a.m. and a second opportunity at 8 p.m. There will brief announcements, time for Q & A, and then breakout rooms for prayer. Thank you for prioritizing this team time!
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, August 2, Sherry and I worshiped with Pastor Brad and Heidi LeRoy at Harvest Church in McCordsville (just northwest of Greenfield). The LeRoys and a committed launch team planted Harvest Church back in 2007. The church now owns its own building just north of the Mt. Comfort Road exit on I-70 across from the Indianapolis Regional Airport. I had the privilege of preaching in both services and meeting briefly with the LBA between services.
Josiah Gorveatte, their worship leader and our son, was celebrating his birthday yesterday so this made our visit even more fun. Many of you will know that Pastor Brad has experienced God’s grace through a long journey of medical procedures, one as recent as last week. He is grateful for the prayers and support of our district team. Harvest Church and Pastor LeRoy have strongly supported church planting and they have a vision for multiplication in their surrounding communities.
Last Monday morning, I was in Fort Wayne with Rev. Aldean Pablo, our church planter, for a productive conversation about partnership opportunities with a UMC congregation in the Roanoke community. Pray that God will grant His wisdom and favor as SEND Church makes disciples in southwest Fort Wayne. Monday afternoon, I was back in Hartford City to connect with John Bonham and the staff at our Wesleyan church.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the GROW conference hosted by Pastor Chris Hodges and Church of the Highlands. Special thanks to Region 1 Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and Region 2 Assistant DS Mike Colaw for hosting area pastors to watch these sessions together. Chris Hodges led 5 sessions and John Maxwell joined in on Wednesday afternoon with insights on leading through a crisis. Church of the Highlands has grown to more than 50,000 in weekend worship since Pastor Hodges planted the church. They have a wonderful culture of excellence and generosity that was on full display as they made these sessions available for free. We had more than 70 attending the live event in our two locations and I heard from other pastors in our district who were participating on their own.
One of the takeaways for me was the reminder to “make every experience simply excellent. Don’t do too much, but do what you do with excellence.” Another was this ESPN acrostic that they use to keep their small groups focused. Every small group is reminded to have 4 key elements when they meet: Encouragement, Scripture, Prayer, and Next Steps (response/accountability). One last thought, don’t say “our people won’t change” but instead admit “we haven’t yet led our people to change.” The seminar was well worth the investment of time and I can see why the live event sells out each year.
Wednesday morning, en route to the conference, I dropped by Anderson United Wesleyan Church to welcome Rev. Nick Wilson who just arrived on site last week. Nick will be leading the youth ministry on staff with Pastor Joe Jackson. Nick and Brenda have deep roots here in Indiana and we’re glad they’ve come home to the Crossroads District after a season of serving in Maine.
Thursday morning, I was with Pastors Zach and Carla Working for a meeting in Huntington. God has been blessing their ministry with worship last year averaging 108 and 24 baptisms. Thursday afternoon, I had the joy of connecting with Pastor Hannan and members of his launch team who are preparing a building for the grand opening services of Union City CrossRoads Church on September 27.
Please keep Pastor John and Beth Hannan in your prayers as they lead this growing team in making disciples who make disciples in Union City!
Friday afternoon and Saturday, Sherry and I took some time away to enjoy the beauty of southern Indiana, overnighting in the historic town of Jasper. On Saturday afternoon, we stopped by to check on Dr. Mark Eckart, our Indiana South DS, who is recovering at home in Orleans after a recent hospital stay. If you need a quick getaway, Jasper is just south of Bloomington, close to French Lick and the beautiful Hoosier National Forest.
This was an exciting weekend for celebrations across our district family. Rev. Tim and Jaclyn (VanCise) Witte were united in marriage at College Wesleyan Church on Saturday afternoon, August 1. Pastor Tim is on staff at College Wesleyan as Special Needs Pastor. Rev. Paul VanCise, father of the bride, and Rev. Bob VanCise, grandfather, presided at the ceremony. Pastor Paul just returned from his sabbatical and would be a helpful coach to others who are making their sabbatical plans.
Pastor Duane Seitz shared an exciting report from Silver Lake Wesleyan Church where he has been diligently leading a turnaround in this country congregation. Last year at district conference, Pastor Duane felt impressed of the Lord to believe for 7 baptisms. Yesterday, they baptized 7 believers in the lake, dedicated one child, and welcomed three new members into the church family. That’s a wonderful report for a church that averaged 19 in worship last year. Praise the Lord!
Pastor Randy Yaryan passed along the good report of another baptism at Winchester Wesleyan Church yesterday, He shared some of the back story of this beautiful testimony of God’s grace. Praise God for lives that are being made new!
Ordination service is just two weeks away, August 15, at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church. All ordained ministers, unless previously excused, are honored to attend and support the 15 candidates who have completed the preparation journey and are excited to share in this sacred occasion. We are honored that Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, is joining us to preside over this year’s ordination service. Ministers will gather at 12:30 for photos and final directions. Seating is limited and reserved to allow for physical distancing.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent