Bryant, Discipleship, and Heroes
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Paul VanCise and the warm congregation at Bryant Wesleyan Church yesterday (October 29). Founded in 1884, the church has been meeting in its present location since 1895. With 14 years of faithful ministry, Rev. VanCise holds title as the longest-serving pastor in the church’s history.
The church has become a vital center for their rural community while continuing strong missions support through Global Partners. Following the service, and a brief meeting with the LBA, Paul and Angelyn welcomed us into their home to share a delicious meal with their family. This family photo is from Pastor Paul & Angelyn’s 25th wedding anniversary that the church hosted this year.
Last evening, I took advantage of an invitation from Pastor Mike Colaw and Jon Wiest to sit in on their quarterly discipleship leaders meeting hosted at their East Fishers Campus. More than 200 adults and students attended the 2-hour session last evening. It has been encouraging to watch the development of this discipleship movement develop from a small group of leaders to now engaging more than 40% of the congregation.
Dr. David Smith, beloved New Testament professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, did an outstanding job of teaching an overview of the Gospel of John. Rev. Jon Wiest will be leading a cohort of pastors, beginning in January, who will have the opportunity to learn more about this and to launch a multiplication movement in their congregation with Jon’s coaching.
Last week included coaching conversations with Rev. Logan Westrick (Tipton Ash Street Wesleyan), Rev. Lyle Breeding (Bluffton Sonlight Wesleyan), Rev. David Stout (Greentown Howard Chapel), Dr. Mark Rennaker (Kokomo Southdowns Wesleyan), Rev. David Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan), Rev. Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Wesleyan), Rev. Rich VanVuren (Shiloh Wesleyan), Rev. Alan Downing (Frankfort First Wesleyan), and Rev. Logan Patriquin (Lafayette Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan). I’m grateful for our team of pastors who lead in such a variety of settings. They are faithful to God’s Word and their calling. Thank you to each one of our pastors and thank you to each of the congregations who remembered October a special focus for Pastor Appreciation!
Friday was a special highlight as Sherry and I hosted the heroes of our Crossroads District in two locations for “Coffee and Cupcakes.” It was a delight to share in fellowship and prayer with 38 of our retired pastors and their spouses. Thank you to Rev. Carol Schenck and her team at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan for hosting the morning session and to Rev. Mark Atkinson and his team at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan for hosting the afternoon session. Together, these faithful pastors and educators totaled more than 1000 years of ministry to our team!
On Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, I joined Rev. Paul James and Rev. Chris Williams at Main Street Wesleyan Church in Jonesboro for their Maximizing Impact weekend. Main Street has faithfully served their community for 95 years but has been in a difficult season of decline. Join me in praying for Pastor Ken Dykoff and his team as they seek God’s direction for their future.
I was able to visit with Ed Hoover in his home on Tuesday and heard encouraging news about his recovery. Ed is grateful for your prayers.
Rev. Lloyd Moore received a liver transplant on Thursday morning. He is recovering on schedule but these next few days are critical. Your prayers and support are valued by Lloyd and Rhonda. You can follow the updates on Rhonda’s FaceBook page.
Our sympathy and prayers are extended to Rev. Ruth Anderson, Rev. David Anderson, and the other members of Rev. Bob Anderson’s family. Pastor Bob was a dearly loved and long-time member of our district’s pastoral team. Rev. Anderson’s funeral will be held at Fountain City Wesleyan Church on Tuesday evening, October 31, with calling hours at the church from 4 until the service begins at 7.
As you love and lead this week, remember what Jesus said: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4 (NIV)
Your servant in Christ,
Hamilton and October Bash
Sunday, October 22, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor David and Carol Leitzel at Hamilton Wesleyan Church. Hamilton is a small farming community but the congregation at HWC is making a big impact. Pastor David has been leading this warm-hearted, welcoming fellowship since 2003.
They recently pulled out all the stops to host a Fall Festival for the community. Their congregation (which averages less than 80 people) welcomed more than 400 people to their 8 acre campus for games, activities and a free meal. During the summer, earlier this year they made lots of new friends through participating in the town’s Summer Fest.
In addition to the normal ministries of a church their size they also operate Hamilton Life Center, a new multipurpose building that hosts basketball leagues and community concerts. It was an encouraging reminder that you don’t have to be a big church in a big city to have a big vision and make a difference in people’s lives!
Sunday afternoon, I met with Rev. Paul Walden, supply pastor, and the congregation at 18th Street Wesleyan Church in Muncie. The congregation has been decreasing in attendance and increasing in average age so we had a frank conversation about the life cycles of churches and options that they’ll be praying about over the next few weeks.
Special thanks to Pastor Andy Jellison and his team from Lifeway Church that hosted the October Bash last evening at Stillwater Retreat Center. There was a great turnout from area churches!
Last week began with staff meeting on Monday morning and then an afternoon catching up on email and phone calls. Tuesday morning, I met with Pastor Josh Keesling at Browns Chapel Wesleyan Church in Greenfield for our annual coaching conversation. My next meeting was with Rev. Bill Carpenter in Beech Grove as he prepares for retirement. Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan Church has agreed (with DBA approval) to make Beech Grove Wesleyan Church a campus of Lakeview’s city-wide ministry. Pastor Bill and Mary are looking forward to more time with grandchildren!
Tuesday afternoon, I met with Dr. Wayne Schmidt in preparation for next month’s meeting of the General Board. Tuesday evening, I met with Rev. Victor and Claudia Silva at Richmond Casa del Alfarero for our annual coaching conversation. It was exciting to see the work that they’ve done to remodel and update their worship center.
Wednesday morning, I met with John Bonham (who is serving as Pastor Tom Parsons’ administrative director at Hartford City) before heading to Indiana Wesleyan University’s chapel service. It was a special privilege to hear Olivia Eckart bring the message from God’s Word. Olivia’s family has deep roots in our district and Olivia has a bright future in ministry.
She is available to come to your church to preach and lead worship. You can learn more about her ministry and contact her here: https://www.facebook.com/lightupmyschool/
Pastors Rick Fletcher, Andy Jellison and Jorge Escalante joined me for lunch on Wednesday to continue work on the plans of the Fort Wayne Zone to bring Rev. Roy and Dylana Angulo from Costa Rica to plant a church among the 14,000 Spanish-speakers in Fort Wayne. My last meeting on Wednesday was in Muncie with Lee Miller, ministerial student attending Wesley Seminary and serving at Memorial Drive Wesleyan.
Thursday noon through Saturday noon, I joined District Superintendent Aaron Sherman and the KY-TN District pastors and spouses for a ministerial retreat at Cumberland Grove Camp and Retreat Center in Jamestown, TN.
I shared leadership insights from “Lead Like Wesley” and we had a profitable discussion about ways our districts might be a blessing and encouraging to each other as the denomination explores wider regional partnerships.
This week includes several coaching conversations, but I’m also excited to see our retired pastors at one of the two “Coffee and Cupcakes” fellowships on Friday. The morning session will be hosted at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan Church (396 Park Street in Noblesville) at 10 a.m. and the afternoon session will be hosted at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church (414 N 10th Street) at 2 p.m. There will be door prizes and it’s always a joy to connect with these heroes of our district team!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
New Haven Impact, New Pastors, DBA
Sunday, October 15, Sherry and I were blessed to worship with Rev. Kory and Becky Christensen at New Haven Impact Church. Impact Church is the most recent church plant in our Fort Wayne Zone and it’s encouraging to see the many ways this young congregation is partnering to impact their community. After a brief standup meeting with the LBA, Becky and Kory joined us for lunch. Becky plays a key role in the community through her leadership as assistant principal at the high school. Please keep this young church in your prayers!
Last Monday, I met with Rev. Les Crossfield (Greater Ohio District Superintendent) for lunch in Richmond. It’s been a joy getting to know Les better and I appreciate his passion to see every church on mission. I’d also like to take a few lessons from this scratch golfer!
I met with Pastor Barry & Joyce Dixon in Indianapolis to learn more about their dreams and the challenges in leading in the urban context. They have a great heart for God and a deep love for people that motivates their ministry at Calvary Family Church.
Dr. Bob Whitesel graciously invited me to be a guest lecturer in his seminary class held at IWU’s Keystone Campus on the north side of Indianapolis on Monday evening. It was a privilege to share with this diverse group of students that included some of our own district pastors.
Tuesday morning, I hit the road for South Bend for my first coaching conversation of the day with Pastor Steve Runyon (Beaver Creek Wesleyan). My next stop was with Pastor Bill Dixon at Davis Chapel and then on to Marion to meet with Pastor Gary Bingham at Hillside Wesleyan. I value these opportunities to learn how our district can better partner with our pastors and churches as they seek to win their communities for Christ.
Tuesday evening, I dropped in at IWU where Pastor Marc Ulrich’s team from ReThink Church were hosting a pizza party and information session for students who were interested in learning more about church planting. Special thanks goes to Rev. Rick Carder for his thoughtful hospitality to our alumni and pastors when they visit campus.
Wednesday began with a DBMD meeting at College Wesleyan Church led by Dr. David Smith. It was a special delight to be there for Rev. Terry Vaughn’s interview as an ordained minister in process of transfer. Terry and Lennaire are stepping up to launch The Bridge Urban Church in South Bend.
I joined Scott Rhyno, Chief Generosity Officer for The Wesleyan Church, for lunch in Fishers as we look at hosting a fundraising golf tournament here in the Crossroads District next year as part of the THRIVE initiative.
Jon Wiest met in the afternoon regarding a disciple-making conference in partnership with Trinity Wesleyan Church to be held next fall. Mark your calendars for October 1-2 and plan to join us. Then, Rev. Ervin Webster (IWU alumnus) and I met regarding next steps toward organizing and welcoming St. Stephen’s Church as a new Wesleyan congregation.
I was invited to pray and share the evening meal at New Pastors’ Orientation where 4 of our most recently appointed pastors from the Crossroads District enjoyed two days interacting with Dr. Wayne Schmidt and his team at headquarters along with new pastors from several other districts.
Thursday was our fall meeting of the District Board of Administration. We have representatives from historic churches and new congregations, some with attendance of more than 1,000 and others with attendance of less than 100. There was robust discussion about the best ways to accomplish our mission of making disciples and multiplying congregations here in Indiana. It really is a delight to serve with these team members!
I had the unique privilege of being interviewed by Dr. Aaron Perry at Wesley Seminary on Friday afternoon for the new podcast they’re producing. If you’ve not yet met Dr. Perry, you’ll enjoy getting to know him and he’s always willing to bring seminars or offer pulpit supply to our churches.
Saturday morning, I joined with Rev. Paul James, Chris Williams and Seth Bye at the Maximizing Impact consultation at Elwood Central Wesleyan Church. Pastor Ben and Amanda Capshaw are doing a great job leading this turnaround congregation. It was exciting to see their team dreaming of new ways to increase their effectiveness in making disciples.
Calling all Retired Pastors and Spouses! “Cupcakes and Coffee Fellowship” will be held on Friday, October 27. These are not required but are informal opportunities to connect and catch up on life around the Crossroads District. For your convenience, we are offering two opportunities to connect:
10 am at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan (396 Park Street, Noblesville, IN 46060)
2 pm at Eastview Wesleyan Church (414 North 10th Street, Gas City, IN 46933)
Our condolences and prayers go out to Rev. Dr. Rich Schenck and the other family members who are grieving the loss of Rev. T. Eugene Schenck, Rich’s father and a beloved pastor who served in The Wesleyan Church for several decades. There will be memorial services in North Carolina today (Monday) and back in Indiana at the former Eastlawn Wesleyan Church facility (3400 N Post Road) on Thursday, 11 a.m. with calling hours from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service.
Just a reminder that October is designated in The Wesleyan Church as Pastor Appreciation Month. If your church has not already done so, there’s still time to take this opportunity to let your pastor and spouse know how much you appreciate their investment in your congregation and your own life. For creative ideas, check out this list:
Exponential Midwest Regional Conference, November 7-8
Breakaway Conference for Ministry Spouses
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Shalom and Happy 10th Anniversary
Sunday, October 8, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Rick and Mary Matthews at Southview Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis. The congregation honored the staff for Pastor Appreciation Month and Pastor Rick brought an encouraging message on how to win the “Believer’s Greatest Battle” by overcoming doubt with enduring faith.
The primary purpose of my visit was to meet with the Shalom Christian Church, the Chin (Myanmar/formerly Burma) congregation that Southview graciously hosts. Last summer, the leadership team at Shalom Church voted to pursue full membership in the Crossroads District. Some of you will remember their choir that ministered to us at District Conference.
After preaching in their afternoon service, Pastor Benjamin Tlungloei and I held a congregational meeting to provide membership and organizational information for more than 30 prospective members. It has been a delight to get to know Pastor Benjamin and these wonderful believers who have endured so much. The picture below is Pastor Benjamin with his youngest of four children.
The final service of the day was at The River in Marion where Pastor Matthew Trexler and his team were celebrating the 10th anniversary of this ministry. From a vision in Matthew and Nicole’s heart to their living room, to a fitness center, and finally settling in at Lincoln Elementary, the story of The River is a continuing adventure of bold faith and compassionate service.
The River has reached out to Mongolia and Albania and serve thousands of people in Marion every Christmas in “The Big Give.” It was exciting to hear the future focus of expanding their facility to serve more people in this location and the first public announcement of their plan to launch a campus in Peru (Indiana) next fall. In addition to leading The River, I’m grateful for Pastor Matthew’s willingness to serve as our Assistant District Superintendent for Region 1.
Last week began at The River on Monday morning as nearly 70 pastors and staff members gathered for our Region 1 fall meeting. It was a special blessing to have Dr. David Smith, IWU professor, lead us through a study of John 13 and then administer communion. David is such a gifted communicator and encourager. We are blessed to have him right here at IWU and I know your congregation would be enriched by his ministry.
Monday afternoon, I participated in Professor Mark Wilson’s class at Southern Wesleyan University through the wonders of technology. His pastoral ministries students are using “Lead Like Wesley” as one of their textbooks and we had an engaging conversation about lessons from John Wesley’s leadership.
Monday evening, I was in New Castle to connect with Pastor Steve Arnett and his family at the funeral home visitation. Our prayers and sympathy are extended to the Arnett family as they grieve their loss of Mrs. Phyllis Arnett, beloved mother and grandmother.
Tuesday morning, I met with Dr. Colleen Derr, our new president at Wesley Seminary, and learned more about the new direction she’s taking the seminary. So many of our pastors have already been blessed by the exceptional education and affordable tuition that Wesley Seminary offers. If you’ve been thinking about graduate studies in ministry, Wesley Seminary should be your first consideration.
Tuesday afternoon, Assistant District Superintendent Rev. Mike Colaw welcomed nearly 40 pastors and staff to Trinity Wesleyan Church (Allisonville Road campus) for the Region 2 fall gathering. Josh Lavender led our time of worship and Pastor Mike Hewitt shared updates from the church planting project in Muncie.
Region 3, led by Assistant DS Chris Williams, met in Rochester at The Cross on Wednesday afternoon. It was encouraging to hear how God is working in the northwest region of our district with reports from our established churches and the new projects in Merrillville and South Bend.
Thursday and Friday, I represented our district at the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees at Indiana Wesleyan University. These are good days at IWU with one of the strongest incoming classes in recent history. We did have sneak peak behind the scenes as the new football stadium moves toward completion.
There were wonderful reports of God at work on campus through AWAKEN and we heard a powerful testimony from one of the new football recruits. Dr. David Wright is doing an amazing job as our president and counts on our prayers for wisdom as he leads the team at IWU.
Saturday morning, I dropped in on the Region 2 DBMD meeting in Indianapolis. I’m grateful for the many pastors and lay people who serve on the ministerial development teams across our district working with close to 100 candidates moving toward ordination. They take this role seriously, investing prayer and concern for each student.
I was delighted to receive the report from Beech Grove Wesleyan Church were Pastor Bill Carpenter baptized 5 new believers yesterday. Pastor Bill and Mary have faithfully served the Beech Grove congregation for many years and are now looking forward to retirement. The congregation has reached out to Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan Church and a ministry partnership is developing that will enable Pastor Bill to conclude his service knowing that the church is in good hands.
Pastor Richard and Debbie Cole were honored last evening at Daybreak Church in Lapel as they transition to retirement. The Cole’s have served at Daybreak since launching the church 20 years ago. Family and friends gathered to pay tribute and express appreciation for the many years of faithful and effective ministry. Daybreak voted yesterday morning to call Dr. Joe Harmon as their new senior pastor and we’re excited to welcome Dr. Joe back to the Crossroads District team!
Level 13 Church in Fort Wayne concluded their pastoral search yesterday calling Rev. Heath Croft as their new leader. Heath and his family will be moving from Montgomery, Alabama where he’s been serving on staff at Mulder United Methodist Church. We’re looking forward to welcoming Heath and his family to Indiana and the Crossroads District!
Please remember Mr. Ed Hoover, our dear brother in Christ, in your prayers as he wrestles with continuing health concerns. Rev. Lloyd Moore continues to await a liver transplant and needs your prayers.
Just a reminder that our Crossroads District Youth Leaders (all paid and volunteer staff) will be meeting on Wednesday, October 11, at Buffalo Wild Wings in Marion (11:30 – 1:30). You can find more information on the “Crossroads District Youth Leaders” FaceBook page.
Our fall meeting of the District Board of Administration will be held this Thursday, 1 p.m., at Abbey Coffee in Marion. Your prayers are appreciated!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Africa, Back Creek and Regional Meetings
Sunday, October 1, Sherry and I worshiped at Back Creek Wesleyan Church (just south of Fairmount on Hwy 9) with Rev. Ben and Helen Parker. Back Creek, another of our historic churches, has been meeting in this current location and building since 1904.
Pastor Ben and his team create a warm family atmosphere in this multigenerational congregation. It was good to be with them as the Board honored both Ben and Helen for Pastor Appreciation Month. They’re excited about their upcoming revival services with Dr. Joe Harmon, Ben and Helen’s former pastor and mentor at Eastview Wesleyan in Gas City. Services will be held from Thursday, October 19 (7 p.m.) through Sunday morning.
Sherry and I had the privilege of ministering in Mozambique last week through an invitation from the faculty of Xai Xai Bible College. The Crossroads District has a deeply rooted partnership with Wesleyan Global Partners and it was encouraging to see how God is moving in this new field.
On Saturday, I was invited to address the National Board on the topic of leadership and multiplication. On Sunday, I brought the commencement address for this year’s graduating class at Xai Xai on Sunday. Then, on Monday, I led the “Lead Like Wesley” seminar for 90 national church leaders. It was a new experience preaching and teaching through double translation but such an incredible and humbling experience to serve these leaders who are doing such amazing work in difficult circumstances.
While at Xai Xai, it was good to connect with Lenville Gross, vice chair from our New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church, who was honored for his ongoing support of the college, including significant help in the actual construction of the college facilites. Lenville’s daughter Rachel lives in Mozambique and teaches at the college.
I was back on the road here in the district on Friday for a morning meeting in Marion with Pastor Matthew Trexler, our Assistant DS for Region 1. Pastor Matthew was encouraged by the positive response to their new Sunday evening service (identical to their two morning services) with 160 in attendance. On Friday afternoon, I was in Fishers to meet Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent.
Saturday morning, I dropped in on the Elevate seminar that College Wesleyan Church offers to deepen the engagement of their young adults (college and careers). Dr. Steve DeNeff shared a compelling presentation on the difference the local church can make in the world. If you’d like to learn more about this initiative, Ethan Linder is the point person for that ministry and this monthly gathering.
Pastor Marc and Heather Ulrich value your prayers as they continue to lead the church planting project in Merrillville. They welcomed 52 for worship this past Saturday evening, 14 of whom are children. One of the ways you can help is if you have unchurched friends or relatives in the Merrillville area and you’d be willing to pass on their information to Pastor Marc via FaceBook messenger.
Your prayers are also requested for Pastor Brad LeRoy (Harvest Church) and Pastor Michael Hewitt (Muncie church plant), both recovering from recent surgeries, and for Rev. Lloyd Moore who continues to battle health complications as he waits for a liver transplant.
I’m looking forward to connecting with our pastoral team this week in the three regional meetings we are hosting. Region 1 (I-69 corridor) is led by Pastor Matthew Trexler and meets on Monday morning (9:00) at The River in Marion, Region 2 (greater Indy) is led by Pastor Mike Colaw and meets on Tuesday afternoon (1:30) at Trinity Wesleyan on Allisonville Road in Fishers, and Region 3 (I-65 corridor) is led by Rev. Chris Williams and will meet at The Cross in Rochester on Wednesday afternoon (1:30).
Just a reminder for youth workers about the gathering of our Crossroads District Youth Leaders on Wednesday, October 11, at Buffalo Wild Wings in Marion (11:30 – 1:30). You can find more information on the “Crossroads District Youth Leaders” FaceBook page.
It’s a joy to serve with you in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent