I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck at Circle of Hope’s Noblesville campus yesterday morning. Many of you will know that the Circle of Hope network includes campuses in Anderson, Beech Grove, and Bangladesh. One of the special guests in this service was Carol’s brother, Ron, who was prayed for during 45 days of being intubated and battling Covid. Annette Spencer, one of the Circle of Hope team members, shared the morning message on praying for God’s will in healing.
In addition to their leadership in the local church, Carol and Rich both serve in leadership roles for the Crossroads District. Rev. Carol Schenck is District Secretary and Rich, who continues to serve in the Region 2 DBMD, has accepted an appointment leading our multi-ethnic ministry task force. Dr. Schenck is also an adjunct faculty member with IWU and works with Global Partners to provide pastor training in Bangladesh. I am grateful for their leadership and thankful for this opportunity to worship with their team at Circle of Hope.
Following the service in Noblesville, I checked in on Pastor Joe Jackson and the team at Anderson United Wesleyan at their “Sunday Funday” community outreach. The United team has been prayer walking in their community and passing out invitations to this special event. They held a combined English/Spanish worship service outdoors under a tent and then shared a cookout together. Pastor Joe was encouraged that eight new guest families accepted their invitation to join them for the meal and activities. Pray with their team as they follow up with these new friends!
Sunday evening, I had the privilege of joining with Pastor Mike and Elizabeth Weller at Restoration Church, the missional community that they are leading in downtown Anderson. Pastor Mike and his team host a supper every Sunday evening. People gather around the tables for the evening’s teaching and then are hosted in guided conversations at the table as they share supper.
Restoration Church also hosts an outdoor worship service on one Sunday evening each month. Last month, they had 54 in attendance for the outdoor service and averaged 25 for their supper church gatherings. They also offer weekly Celebrate Recovery groups, one evening for men and another for women. I’m grateful for the Weller’s and this team with a compelling vision for bringing God’s love and healing to the inner city.
Last week was full with coaching conversations, staff meetings, being a guest on a podcast, and preparation for our quarterly meeting of the Crossroads District Board of Administration. The DBA met at the Branch coffee shop in Fairmount on Thursday. We began in the morning with an orientation for newer members and the regular meeting commenced after lunch with a full agenda. It was exciting to see the steps that churches are taking to make progress in spite of the pandemic. Dr. David Smith, professor at IWU and a shepherd to district pastors, brought an encouraging update and shared copies of his newest book.
The DBA was saddened to receive written communication from Lee Miller that he was withdrawing his church planting project (Muncie Crossover Church) from our denomination and turning in his ministerial credentials. Dr. Ed Love, his coach, and I have made repeated attempts but Lee is not open to meeting with us yet. We do pray that God will bless Lee and his team as they obey what they sense to be God’s leading. We want every Gospel-preaching church in Indiana to be blessed of God as we work together to reach the 3 million Hoosiers still without Christ.
I was in Richmond on Friday morning to meet with Rev. Claudia Silva for our annual coaching conversation. While I was in Richmond, I was also able to catch up with Dr. Steve Bray who is halfway through his sabbatical. He’s doing well and learning a lot but Steve can’t wait to get back to leading the team at LifeSpring Church in November. For those of you pastors who are considering sabbaticals, I learned this week that the Lilly Endowment Fund has updated their funding approval requirements. The application deadline is November 1. Here’s the link for your planning and application.
Saturday morning, I dropped in on the Region 2 District Board of Ministerial Development as they prepared to interview ministerial candidates. Rev. Clifton Ashlock chairs this regional team and Rev. Joyce Dixon is their secretary. It was so good to see Pastor Randy Yaryan who is recovering after a very difficult battle with Covid. We also gathered around Rev. Logan Westrick to pray for his granddaughter in Dayton, Ohio that needs a medical miracle.
Pastor Andy Riemersma and the launch team as Westfield ONE Church hosted another community gathering on Sunday evening. They welcomed around 60 people for this vision-casting session with at least 15 of those being first-time guests. Pray for Pastor Andy and Leanza as they continue to build the team and move toward their January launch!
Heaven joins us in rejoicing over lives being #MadeNew by the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I’ve received reports from baptisms from Pastor Dan Van Cise and the team at Marion West 8th Street Wesleyan Church, from Pastor Neftali Lopez and the team at Carmel Amistad Iglesia Wesleyana (6 baptisms and three children dedicated), Pastor Oliver Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan (4 baptisms), and Pastor Theo Griffin and the team at Greenfield Browns Chapel Wesleyan (3 baptisms). Praise God for these wonderful reports of Kingdom advance!
Thank you to every church in our Crossroads District who has stepped up to bless Rev. Ben Capshaw’s family. With the matching gifts from ECD and the district’s Thrive Fund, the total has now surpassed $75,000. I am grateful to each pastor who led their church in responding to this heartbreaking tragedy. God is honored by your compassionate generosity and is answering your continued prayers!
Plan on joining us for The Heartland Gathering on March 22-24, 2022 in Pigeon Forge, TN. We're excited for this opportunity for our pastoral families to rest and renew together. For speaker lineup and more info, visit: gathering.heartlandregion.org
Let’s keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday evening, I joined with Pastor Jerome Bell and his team at Autumn Hills Church on the north side of Pendleton as they launched into weekly worship services. They’ve decided to meet on Sunday evenings (5:30 p.m.) for now after listening to the input of their unchurched friends and neighbors. Pastor Jerome and Lenita Bell, his wife, live in Pendleton where Lenita teaches in the public school system.
I appreciated Pastor Jerome’s message on the impact of tables in Jesus’ ministry. It was encouraging to see several first-time guests and I was thankful for the area pastors who came out to show their support. Rev. Joe and Jennifer Jackson, who were themselves church planters before coming back home to serve at Anderson United Wesleyan, have been a special encouragement to the Bell’s in this startup season. Join me in praying that God will bless the efforts of the Autumn Hills team to reach many in the 70% of Madison County who are unchurched.
Sunday morning, College Wesleyan Church celebrated the 20th anniversary of Dr. Steve and Lori DeNeff’s ministry at College Wesleyan and in the Marion community. I was glad to be there to represent our district team. In addition to a video with powerful testimonies and commendations, General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt came to personally express his appreciation for Dr. DeNeff’s leadership influence across and beyond The Wesleyan Church. The congregation also hosted a reception on Sunday evening for the DeNeffs. We are grateful for Steve and Lori’s Kingdom impact as part of our Crossroads District team and pray that God grants them many more years of anointed ministry!
Fairmount Camp hosted their 49th annual Married Couples Retreat (MRC) this past weekend. I slipped in for their closing service as Rev. Brian and Cara Burke shared insights for healthy marriages from their ministry with Wellsprings of Freedom. I heard good reports from the weekend with 62 couples registered, many of them from our district churches including several pastoral couples. The leadership team is looking forward to next year’s 50th anniversary MRC (September 9-11) and encourages couples to reserve their tickets as early as possible.
It was good to be on the road again last week for coaching conversations with Pastor Trevor O’Dell (Lancaster Wesleyan Church), Rev. Michael Colaw (Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church), Rev. Aaron Lee (LaOtto Cultivate Church), and Rev. Zack Working (Huntington Hope Rising Church). God is on the move in each of these churches in unique ways. Every week, I am reminded that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.
On Wednesday morning, I was able to check in on Pastor Allen Laws (Warren Wesleyan Church). Last week marked six months since Cheryl, his wife, passed away. It was good to catch up with Pastor Allen and to spend time together in prayer.
Many of our churches took special offerings in the past few weeks to bless and support the Capshaw family after the tragic death of Rev. Ben Capshaw. I will have a full report for the DBA meeting on Thursday but I can provide a preliminary report that we have now surpassed the $10,000 match from the district’s Thrive Fund that was also being matched with $10,000 from the denomination’s Thrive Fund. Together, with your help and God’s blessing, we have pushed past $50,000! I was with Amanda Capshaw on Wednesday afternoon. These are hard days but she is grateful for God’s faithfulness and thankful for the many ways that she and the boys have felt support from the body of Christ. Please continue to pray for Amanda, Isaac, and Noah.
Nothing brings greater joy than to share the reports of lives being changed by the Gospel! Rev. Michelle Henry passed along the good news that Brookhaven Wesleyan Church (Pastor Tony Bye) has baptized 11 new believers in the past 4 weeks. And then I received word from Pastor Paul Van Cise that Bryant Wesleyan Church was celebrating with four new believers who publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ through baptism. Praise God for lives #madenew!
There’s still time to take advantage of the early registration rate for our Heartland Gathering in Pigeon Forge, TN, on March 22-24. Every church in the district received one scholarship to cover that early registration fee and we're excited for this opportunity for our pastoral families to rest and renew together. For more info, visit: https://www.crossroadsdistrict.org/rwi2
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom in your community this week!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. - The 2021 Crossroads District Journal is now available. CLICK HERE to download.
(Prior District Journals are available from the District Office upon request.)
This week’s team update is one day later than usual as our office was closed. I hope you were able to enjoy the beautiful Labor Day!
Sunday, September 5, Sherry and I worshipped with the wonderful folks at Hartford City Wesleyan Church. I’ve been helping them out for the past year, preaching about once every six weeks, since the unexpected pastoral transition last summer. I’ve enjoyed working closely with their leaders and staff as we navigated the challenges of the pandemic and regathering the congregation. The church has been blessed with the gifted preaching ministry of Rev. Dr. Mark Schnell who has been a great help in assisting me. We’re now moving into the next phase with an intentional interim pastor scheduled to arrive in October. The search process for their permanent pastor will begin early in the new year. Please pray for God’s will to be done in this search process!
Last Monday, Dr. Ed Love and I met with Rev. Lee Miller in Muncie to look at a potential new meeting location for Crossover Church. The launch team for this new church is growing and they’re counting down to the first Sunday gathering on September 26. Later that day I met for a coaching conversation with one of our emerging leaders. My last meeting of the day was with Dr. David Smith. In addition to his teaching ministry at IWU, David has agreed to represent the district and preach in 20 of our churches this year. After serving together for 5 years at Kingswood University, it’s an honor to serve with him again on our district team.
Tuesday morning, I met with Dr. Jim Lo who blesses our district team by leading us in prayer. Dr. Lo has also agreed to represent the district and preach in 20 of our churches this conference year. It’s a joy to serve with Dr. Lo in this capacity! My next meeting was with our Crossroads District staff who meets next to Abbey Coffee on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and then I concluded the afternoon meeting with the staff team at Hartford City.
Wednesday was a day off so that Sherry and I could celebrate her birthday with a quick road trip to Nashville. (Yes, it’s a long drive and there’s a long story.)
Thursday, I was back on the road for coaching conversations with Rev. Paul Van Cise (Bryant Wesleyan), Rev. David Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan), and closed out the day in South Bend with Pastor Ben Jones (Beaver Creek Wesleyan). Once again I came away from these conversations encouraged by the faithful leaders who serve across our district family.
Friday included two conversations with pastors working through challenging situations in their respective churches. Pastoring is never easy but the pandemic has added stress and complexity to almost every situation. Please pray for our pastors!
The final meeting of Friday was with Rev. Rick Carder and the greater Grant County DBMD zone team as they conducted interviews with ministerial students. Helping women and men discern God’s call and prepare themselves for the equipping ministry of Word and sacrament is one of the highest callings for our district. Thank you to every pastor and lay member who contributes to the work of our District Board of Ministerial Development.
Saturday morning, I had the privilege of joining with Pastor Johnnie Blair and a good number of people who turned out for their Pray First – First Saturday prayer gathering. It was refreshing to spend an hour in prayer and worship with this congregation. I am thankful for the commitment to prayer that God is stirring across our district.
On my way back from this prayer service, I stopped by to check on Rev. Logan and Nancy Westrick. Sister Nancy is home now recovering from a recent hospitalization. I was glad to see her progress and to join with them in prayer as they continue to serve the Tipton Ash Street Wesleyan Church.
I was glad to receive word that Rev. Bob Van Cise was released from his hospitalization and was able to worship with his church family at Brookhaven Wesleyan on Sunday! (Thank you to Dr. Jim Lo for sharing this photo with us.)
Please continue to pray for the Capshaw family and the congregation at Elwood Central Wesleyan Church. I also invite you to join me in praying for Pastor Randy Yaryan who has been battling a difficult case of Covid with multiple trips to the hospital.
I can’t wait for this Sunday evening as Pastor Jerome Bell and the team at Pendleton Autumn Hills Church launch into holding weekly services. They’ve been praying, loving and serving their neighbors, relatives, and friends who need Jesus Christ. Thank you for supporting this new team with your prayers!
Let’s keep praying and working together to reach the 3 million Hoosiers who have yet to receive Christ as Lord!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent