Sunday morning, September 27, was a special joy for our district team as another new Kingdom community was birthed. Pastor John and Beth Hannan have worked diligently, prayed fervently, and served sacrificially this past year in building a launch team and planting the seeds for a new Wesleyan church in Union City. Yesterday was the grand opening of both their ministry and the beautifully remodeled facility that they will call home. It was a delight to represent our district team and bring greetings on this special occasion.
Mayor Chad Spence joined the team for the ribbon cutting and then more than 80 people filled the auditorium for the first worship service. The congregation is multi-ethnic with many Spanish-speaking attenders. Rev. Claudia Silva, pastor of Casa del Alfarero in Richmond, brought some of her members with her and she did a wonderful job of translating Pastor John’s message.
Most exciting for Pastor John was the privilege he had of praying with a gentleman to receive Christ. Thank you to every leader and congregation in the Crossroads District who is praying for and investing in CrossRoads Church. Together, we are bringing the hope and holiness of Christ to our region!
Sunday evening, Dr. Jim Lo and I had the privilege of leading a prayer gathering for pastors and ministry leaders in our district. We had participants from each of our regions. It was a blessing to see so many of of our leaders committed to seeking God for empowerment as we lead through the challenges. Thank you to each one who was able to make this a priority and to Pastor Matthew Trexler and his team at The River Church for hosting our gathering.
Tuesday was another staff meeting day as I worked with our Crossroads District office team in the morning and then connected with the team at Hartford City in the afternoon. A special highlight of the day was the opportunity to connect in person with Pastor Mark Atkinson. He is making steady progress in his recovery from surgery and the extended hospital stay. I’m looking forward to worshiping with Pastor Mark and his team at Eastview Wesleyan Church for Pastor Appreciation Day on October 25. I was in Fishers for lunch on Wednesday with Rev. Scott Rhyno. Scott is serving as our interim pastor at Waterline Church. I was in Fowler on Thursday afternoon for a meeting with Pastor Judy Hatt and Paul Godbey, church treasurer.
Friday, I joined the General Board Subcommittee on Memorials online as we prepared for the upcoming General Board meeting. Dr. Carl Shepherd, our chair, General Secretary Janelle Vernon and Assistant General Secretary Rev. Anthony Casey serve this group well as we work through proposals that the General Board will consider recommending to the 2021 General Conference.
Friday evening, Sherry and I hosted District Youth President Jessica Folz and a team of youth pastors and spouses for supper and a great time of fellowship. These leaders have done a terrific job navigating youth ministry through the pandemic. They have been creative and persistent in finding ways to help students stay connected to Christ and the church. For example, Andrew Kinney, youth pastor at Chapel Pike, led his students in 130 consecutive days of online devotionals. I am grateful for our Crossroads District youth leaders who are making a difference in this rising generation.
Saturday morning, I joined the Region 1 District Board of Ministerial Development at College Wesleyan Church for interviews with licensed ministers who have nearly completed their ordination preparation. Dr. Jim Lo does a great job leading this team. These committee members prayerfully invest in these leaders who are preparing to fulfill their calling.
We’re rejoicing in the news of three more baptisms this past weekend. Pastors Nicholas and Adriana Zarate at Gloria del Rey baptized two new believers and the team at Beech Grove baptized one. Both of these congregations are part of the Circle of Hope Network led by Rev. Dr. Richard and Rev. Carol Schenck. Praise the Lord for lives being made new!
Our prayers and sympathies are extended this week to Rev. Duane Summitt on the passing of his mother, Mrs. Dolores Summitt, and to Rev. Jay DeNeff and Dr. Steve DeNeff on the passing of Jacqueline “Jackie” (DeNeff) White, their daughter and sister.
Congratulations this week are extended to Rev. Tim and Jennifer Becker on the happy occasion of Jenna’s wedding to Mr. Joshua Fitts on Saturday at Matter Park in Marion.
Thank you for all you do to make a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, September 20, I had the joy of worshiping with Pastor Rick Matthews and the team at Southview Wesleyan Church. Pastor Rick and Mary were first appointed to serve at Southview back in 1983. They have done a great job helping their congregation navigate through the challenges of Covid-19. Southview is gathering about 50% of their congregation for in-person worship.
The members have been faithful in their local church stewardship and in support of their missions partnerships. Southview Wesleyan is also the gracious host for Shalom Church, a Wesleyan congregation comprised of Chin refugees from Myanmar. After the service, I was blessed to enjoy Sister Mary’s home cooking with their family.
Sunday afternoon, I brought greetings and preached the afternoon message for Shalom Church. Benjamin Tuimuk is appointed to serve this congregation as lay supply pastor. Most of their members immigrated from Myanmar (formerly Burma) in the face of extreme political persecution. There are significant communities of refugees in both Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis also has a Burmese congregation as part of their ministry in the Garfield Park neighborhood. We are blessed to partner with these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sunday evening, Dr. Steve Bray and Campus Pastor Ryan VanMatre led in a dedication service for their new south campus in what was formerly the St. John’s Lutheran Church. Former senior pastor David Anderson was part of the story as this historic facility (112 years old) was gifted from an aging Lutheran congregation to become the home for the thriving south campus of LifeSpring (formerly Fountain City Wesleyan Church) in the heart of Richmond. David Snow, the mayor of Richmond, brought greetings and Dr. Steve Bray preached a challenging message from Nehemiah. Pray that God will continue to bless this step of faith to create a hub of hope in the inner city.
On Monday, I flew to Florida to represent the General Board on the Board of Directors meeting at Wesleyan Village, Inc. The board includes Rod Benson and Martha Blackburn from our Crossroads District family. Dr. Don Maness serves as Chair and Executive Director. The village has seen lots of improvements under his leadership. If you’ve never visited, Dr. Maness and his team are wonderful hosts and would welcome you to experience the wonderful fellowship of this Wesleyan retirement community.
Wednesday morning, I was back on the road for coaching conversations. I was glad to be able to connect with Rev. Rick Fletcher (Lifeway Wesleyan Church) and Pastor Kyle Horton (Three Rivers Church) in Fort Wayne. Wednesday evening, I met with Rev. Matthew Trexler, our Region 1 Assistant DS and vice-chair of the DBA, in preparation for our district board meeting.
Thursday, our Crossroads District Board of Administration met at The Branch in Fairmount. Pastor Jeff Luedtke and his team always do a great job hosting events in their second floor conference room. Rev. Craig Thurmon brought the devotional and we enjoyed good discussions and clear decisions on a variety of district concerns. Some of the discussions are weighty but we have a great group of leaders who enjoy working together to keep our district focused on Great Commission priorities.
One of the highlights of our DBA meetings is hearing from our church planters. Pastor John Hannan sent a very positive report via video from the CrossRoads Church in Union City as they prepare for their grand opening on Sunday morning, September 27. We were also blessed to have Rev. Aldean Pablo join us in person to share highlights from the SEND Church project in Roanoke. You may recall that they baptized 10 believers just lat month. God has opened an unusual door for collaboration with an existing campus. Pray that God will continue to grant wisdom and favor as they press forward to make disciples in Roanoke and southwest Fort Wayne.
Friday morning, Seth Bye and I were in Noblesville to look at a property for possible consideration as a future church campus. It was good to reconnect with Jacob Thurston on Friday afternoon in Marion to hear more about his work with the Kern Project at IWU. Jake was previously on staff at Ransom Church in South Dakota. He is available to speak to youth groups about ministry education at IWU or for supply preaching. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday evening, Sherry and I had the joy of being with pastoral couples from our Region 3 North Zone at the New Carlisle Wesleyan Church. Pastor Don and Karen Bayne were our gracious hosts. The food was good, the fellowship was better, and the prayer time was the best. Thank you to each couple who was able to make time to invest in each other and in building a stronger team!
Saturday morning, I was able to drop in at Lancaster Wesleyan Church to share a devotional with their team as they gathered for Day 2 of their Vision Defining Retreat. Dr. Robert Hallett is serving as the interim pastor this year. He is doing a terrific job of leveraging his extensive consulting experience in helping this congregation create a clear pathway forward into their next chapter of ministry.
We in the district always love to receive and pass along baptism reports. Dr. Oliver Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church send pictures and the good news that 6 people were baptized in their church on September 13. Praise the Lord for changed lives!
Pastor Matthew Trexler and the team at The River Church celebrated two more baptisms on Sunday morning, September 20. Praise the Lord for lives #madenew
Pastors, staff, and district ministry leaders are called to a Prayer Summit this Sunday evening, 6 p.m., at The River Church in Marion. Dr. Jim Lo and a team have prepared a focused prayer gathering for us. We are leading in unusual times. We need fresh anointing to lead our congregations in this time of intense spiritual warfare. I would be grateful if you would make this prayer time a priority in your calendar.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Delphi, StratOp, and Baptism
Sunday morning, September 13, I joined Pastor Dan Fisher and the team at Delphi Wesleyan Church for worship. Their in-person attendance has been running more than 75% of pre-Covid numbers, with several new folks becoming part of the congregation since they’ve been gathering in the building. Last year they celebrated 9 professions of faith and 6 baptisms.
I met with Pastor Fisher and the LBA after the service for lunch and a good discussion. They’ve done an amazing job of updating their facility over the past few years. They recently completed remodeling their kitchen and fellowship room. Delphi Wesleyan has also taken advantage of grants to improve their technology for a growing online ministry. They are also encouraged by the growing response to their new Thursday evening prayer service. God is on the move in Delphi!
Sunday afternoon, I chaired the LBA meeting at Eastview Wesleyan Church in the absence of Pastor Mark Atkinson. I am glad to report that Pastor Mark is making steady progress in his recovery. He surprised the congregation at the Jonesboro campus by slipping in to worship with them. Please keep Mark and Ronda in your prayers as they continue this recovery process.
Tuesday morning, I met with Dr. Jim Lo in preparation for our Crossroads District prayer gathering on September 27, 6 p.m., at The River Church in Marion. Dr. Jim Lo leads our district intercession team and will be hosting this summit with me. Please make plans to join us as we pray for revival in our hearts, our churches, and our nation. (Dr. Lo was at The River Church today teaching on prayer in all three morning services and in an afternoon seminar.)
Wednesday, Rev. Theo Griffin (Brown’s Chapel Wesleyan Church) and I met in the morning for our annual coaching conversation. I was also able to connect with Rev. Craig Thurmon, our district treasurer, in preparation for this week’s DBA meeting. Pastor Craig and Tiffany are working together to plant The Encounter Assembly on the east side of Indianapolis. Wednesday afternoon, I dropped in on Pastor Brad LeRoy and the staff at Harvest Church before heading back to Greenfield. Mrs. Randy Griffin (Theo’s wife and ministry partner) graciously took time to tell me about the ministry she launched in Central New York to care for pastors’ spouses. Stay tuned for more.
Thursday, I was in Fort Wayne to meet with Pastor Dave Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan) and Pastor Aaron Lee (Cultivate Church) for our annual coaching conversations. Jordan Ashley (CFO for College Wesleyan Church) and I met later that afternoon to sign closing documents for the construction loan on their JC Body Shop expansion project. College Wesleyan is making great progress in raising the funding and in completing this building that will expand their capacity for community ministry.
Friday morning, I met with Jim Bogear in Gas City for an update on the growing coaching ministry that he and Jerolyn are leading together. Rev. Jason Tash and I met in Fort Wayne to review the StratOp consultations he is leading for the district. I was glad to connect with Pastor Aldean Pablo to catch up on the progress of the SEND Church planting project. Here’s a photo from their recent outdoor service. Please keep the Pablos in your prayers!
Saturday morning, I made a quick trip to Huntington to check in on Pastor Chris Williams leading the StratOp consultation for Hope Rising Church. I am grateful for Jason Tash, Matthew Trexler, and Chris Williams who join me in sharing this helpful resource with our district churches. We still have a few dates available in the spring if your team is ready to become even more focused and aligned for Kingdom impact.
No one needs another meeting, but every church can benefit from gaining greater clarity on their mission and the significant next steps that can help us be more effective in making disciples. Pastors Zack and Carla Working did a great job of preparing their team for this weekend and capped it all off with a baptism celebration in this morning’s worship service. That’s why we do what we do. Praise God for lives being #madenew!
This week I’ll be in Florida for the Wesleyan Village Board meeting Tuesday and then our District Board of Administration meets in Fairmount on Thursday. I am grateful for each one of you who keeps me in your prayers as I have the opportunity to travel and serve our team.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. I am grateful for the many creative ways that our churches engage with and serve their communities. Pastor Dan and Amanda Clark sent along these photos from the special service that they held yesterday at Monon Wesleyan Church to honor the first responders in their town.
Labor Day Weekend Baptism Reports!
I trust that you were able to enjoy some time relaxing with your family and friends over this Labor Day weekend. Sherry and I enjoyed taking a few days off including time with our children in Michigan. I hope you’ll be encouraged by this briefer than normal team update.
Last week’s abbreviated schedule included working with an LBA on a pastoral search, interviewing prospective church planters, conducting coaching conversations, and leading staff meetings. One of the highlights of last week was a meeting on Friday with Rev. Mike Hewitt (our district’s church multiplication champion), Rev. Bernie Haddad, and Toni, one of the ladies that Bernie is discipling through Mercy Unleashed.
It is so encouraging to hear how God is at work through this ministry to prisoners and their families. Our church plant (Eden Unleashed) in the New Castle prison continues to meet for ministry but outside guests are still restricted. Pray for Danny and the other men in our church there who are faithfully discipling within the walls.
Again this week we have the privilege of rejoicing with our churches that are celebrating lives #madenew by the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Pastor Paul VanCise shared good news of three baptisms in the Bryant Wesleyan Church on September 6 and 2 more on August 23 in their ministry partnership that Joe Schmidt is leading in Dunkirk.
Pastor Jeremy Armiger and Dr. Jim Lo baptized three new believers at Parkview Wesleyan Church in Chesterfield. God is honoring the focused prayer and community evangelism that Parkview is pursuing.
Pastor Neftali Lopez and the congregation at Carmel Amistad Iglesia Wesleyana celebrated lives being #madenew in an outdoor baptism on Sunday. Three new believers publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!
Jesus declared, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Luke 15:7 (NLT)
We’re thanking God for answered prayer. Three of our pastors who tested positive for Covid-19 over the last several weeks have all received tests confirming that they are now free from the virus. Thank you for each one who joined them in prayer.
Pastor Mark Atkinson (Gas City Eastview) has been released from the hospital to recover at home from his recent heart surgery. It was great to speak with Pastor Mark by phone from his home on Thursday. Please continue to remember Mark and Ronda in prayer.
PRAYER GATHERING set for September 27, 6 p.m., at The River Church in Marion. This is a change from the previous announcement. For the past few months our district pastors have only gathered on ZOOM for updates and prayer. This month, we will plan to meet in person. Dr. Jim Lo and I will be hosting this prayer meeting as we seek the Lord for revival in our churches and in our land. If you are able, please plan to join us.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent