It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Beech Grove Wesleyan Church yesterday morning with Pastor Bill and Mary Carpenter. We also enjoyed fellowship with our new friends at their Christmas pitch-in. This is a vital ministry in a needy neighborhood that is making a difference through their Gospel preaching and community service. Twice each month, their fellowship hall doubles as a community food bank serving dozens of families. Pastor Bill and Mary have invested deeply in this ministry but are praying that God will raise up new leadership to take this team to the next level.
Sunday evening, Rev. Chris Williams and I returned to Jonesboro Westview Wesleyan Church to facilitate a town hall meeting as the congregation prayerfully considered the report of the Maximizing Impact consultation. In spite of the unusually cold weather, a good and responsive group gathered for this evening of dialogue. The congregation will vote on January 8.
Last Monday began with our office team’s staff meeting, followed by a Maximizing Impact update meeting with Pastor Clifton Ashlock in Anderson, and concluding with a joyful Christmas fellowship hosted by Pastor Mark Atkinson and the Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church for the Grant Count South Zone. This year, each of the zones have organized their own events. This option allows for more fellowship and shorter travel times. Thank you to each pastor and spouse who made the special effort to participate.
On Tuesday morning, Jon Wiest (Crossroads District Multiplication Team Leader) and I were in South Bend for a meeting with Pastor Troy Evans and a friend of his who is prayerfully considering joining our Crossroads District team. His dream is to plant a church much like “The Edge” that Pastor Troy is leading in Grand Rapids. Next steps will include completing a church planter assessment and convening the zone pastors to consider a recommendation to the DBA. Pray with us that God will raise up dozens of new church planters as we reach out to make disciples among the 3 million unreached people in Indiana.
Tuesday afternoon, I met with Dr. Oliver Dongell at Plymouth Wesleyan to consult with him on several items. I appreciate Dr. Dongell’s Kingdom vision and his willingness to help lead our district ministry in Region 3 even while he’s building for the future of Plymouth Wesleyan.
On my way from Plymouth to Lafayette, I was able to drop in on Pastor Zach Szmara at The Bridge in Logansport. In addition to the ministry of the church and the expanding impact of their Immigrant Connection, The Bridge also offers The Intersection Coffee Shop. It was encouraging to see the progress that Zach and his team are making.
Tuesday evening, I met with Pastor Alan and Teri Downing in Lafayette for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Alan is providing faith-filled leadership to Frankfort First Wesleyan even while completing the last steps in his ordination journey. If all goes as planned, he’ll join more than a dozen ministers being ordained at our Crossroads District Conference coming up on June 23.
Wednesday morning, I was at our Fishers (HQ) office for church planting meetings with Rev. Jon Wiest and then with Dr. Ed Love, Church Multiplication Director for The Wesleyan Church. Dr. Love also leads and teaches in the church multiplication certificate and degree program at Wesley Seminary. (Here’e the link for more info: Wesley Seminary – Church Planting program )
Wednesday afternoon, I had the privilege of connecting with Pastor Steve Martin in the follow-up process from their Maximizing Impact consultation. Then, Sherry and I met with Rev. Scott and Elizabeth Rhyno for supper in Fishers. Scott is leading the charge on generosity initiatives for The Wesleyan Church. He’s available to meet with leadership teams in our local churches and is prepping to launch a golf event next summer that will help us raise funding for the pastoral fitness as part of THRIVE.
Thursday, I was in Marion for meetings. Our attorney, Phil Stevenson, always provides wise counsel. Our prayers are with Phil as he continues to grieve the loss of his wife. Thursday. Pastor Chuck MacCallum stopped by in the afternoon. He is a great encourager and I’m thankful for his heart for pastors and our churches.
Thursday evening, Rev. Williams and I were in Albion for a meeting with Pastor Joe Allen and the Local Advisory Council at Albion Wesleyan. Pastor Joe and the team are working through a series of decisions and it was good to come alongside them as they seek God’s wisdom for the best path forward. It was my first visit to the church. The worship team was practicing as we arrived and I was also impressed with this ministry facility.
I was back in South Bend on Friday morning to meet with Pastor Greg Holmes at Sonlight Fellowship Wesleyan Church for our first coaching conversation. Rev. Holmes has been part of the church for 20 years, first as an active lay leader and then, for the past 10 years, as pastor. He’s actively involved with the homeless shelter in South Bend and is passionate about mentoring young adult leaders. The vision of their church is to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.
Friday afternoon, I has the joy of connecting with Dr. David Smith, Dean of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. It was my honor to work with Dr. Smith for our five years together at Kingswood University. I am always delighted when I have the opportunity to collaborate with him.
The event we’ve been working on is the Mike Hilson seminar that will be co-sponsored by Wesley Seminary and the Crossroads District on January 13-14. Because of our co-sponsorship we’re able to offer this event at no charge to Wesley Seminary students and Crossroads District team members. The event will have three sessions.
On Friday morning, January 13 from 10 until noon, Pastor Mike Hilson will be presenting a session on making disciples. This is always a vital conversation but it is especially timely as we roll out our denomination’s membership reaffirmation process. On Friday afternoon (from 1:30-4:00), Pastor Mike will be presenting new material from a forthcoming book on Moses’ model of leadership.
Then, on Saturday morning, from 9 until noon, Pastor Mike will present a seminar on “Becoming a Multiplying Church.” Every session will be helpful. The Friday sessions are specifically targeted for pastors. The Saturday morning session is designed for pastors, staff and their leadership teams to share together.
Many of you know the New Life story (check out this link: New Life Network ), but when Pastor Mike Hilson cast a vision for becoming a multiplying church their congregation was deeply in debt and running less than 100 in worship. Today, this congregation has expanded exponentially ministering to more than 3000 people in multiple venues and church plants. Don’t miss this event!
Thank you again for your prayers and to each one who has expressed their sympathy at the passing of my mother, Mrs. Anne Gorveatte. I like the phrase the Salvation Army uses as the death of their officers: “Promoted to Glory.” We’ll be holding a private family memorial service in Noblesville on Thursday and then Brooksville Wesleyan Church is hosting a public memorial service on January 3 with a brief reception at 2 p.m. followed by the service at 2:30.
The Crossroads District Team Update will take a break for the Christmas holiday but will be back online the first week in January. May God richly bless you and your loved ones this Christmas as you celebrate the incarnation of our Savior and anticipate the soon return of our King!
Your servant in Christ,
LaOtto and Christmas Connections
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping on Sunday morning at LaOtto Wesleyan Church. This historic, 170-year-old congregation, is thriving with Pastor Aaron Lee leading the team. The weather was less than ideal but the welcome was warm with this multi-generational congregation.
In addition to a meaningful Advent celebration, Pastor Lee hosted the “ugly sweater” sweater contest. After the service, I had a brief meeting with the LBA. It was encouraging to sense the positive morale and their commitment to impact their community for Christ.
Last Monday, I was in Marion for our staff meeting and then coffee with Dr. Aron Willis. I enjoyed connecting with Pastor Dan Van Cise (Marion 8th Street Wesleyan) for lunch and our annual coaching conversation. Our family gathered in Burnips, Michigan on Monday evening and Tuesday morning to be with my mother who was placed under hospice care.
Tuesday afternoon, I met with Pastor Marc Ulrich in Merrillville for our annual coaching conversation and to see the progress on the remodeling project as ReThink Church prepares to begin weekly worship gatherings in the new year. Thank you to the leaders and churches who are partnering with Pastor Marc & Heather Ulrich in this new mission!
On Tuesday evening, I met with Pastor Logan and Shaina (Lafayette Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan) for supper and our coaching conversation. It was inspiring to hear about the progress they’re making in reaching out to their community with the Homework Academy. This is a partnership with their local school that provides tutoring to a select group of students each week with volunteers from the church. The Patriquins are doing their part to help grow the church with their own addition due in 12 more weeks!
Wednesday, I met with Pastor David Stout (Greentown Howard Chapel) and then headed north to connect with Pastor Don Bayne (New Carlisle Wesleyan) and Pastor Stephen Runyon (Beaver Creek Wesleyan) for our coaching conversations. I made it back to Indy in time for Sherry and I to enjoy the Waterline Church’s Leadership Christmas party hosted by Pastor John and Danielle Freed.
On Thursday morning, I joined the planning team for District Conference 2017. Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, did a great job facilitating this first session of this creative group of leaders. It’s amazing how quickly this conference year is flying by with just over 4 months left before we close the books on our first year as the Crossroads District. Please mark your calendars for June 23-24 and make plans to join us at College Wesleyan Church for our 2017 Crossroads Connexion!
After the planning meeting, I had the privilege of connecting with Pastor Steve Colter at Chapel Pike Wesleyan for our coaching conversation. Pastor Steve has such a positive impact working with individuals transitioning from prison or recovering from addictions.
Thursday evening, Sherry and I enjoyed supper and fellowship with pastors and spouses in the Region 2 East Zone. We’d never been to Willy and Red’s in Hagerstown so this was a new adventure. It was encouraging to hear testimonies of conversions, baptisms and healing. Pastor Randy Yaryan (Winchester Union Street) shared that more than half of those in a recent service were new attenders in the past year. One bittersweet note was saying farewell to Scott and Erin Ferguson who are moving to Lexington, KY to join the staff at Southland Christian Church. They will be missed! Thank you to Pastor Steve Arnett (New Castle Mt. Zion) for his leadership in coordinating this event and the East Zone.
On Friday morning, Dr. Ed Love and I met with a prospective church planter in Muncie. I shared this possibility with our East Zone leaders on Thursday evening. They identified Muncie as one of their top hot spots for church planting. Continue to pray with us that the Lord of the Harvest will send out laborers into his fields!
On a personal note, my mother passed away on Saturday evening after a difficult journey with Alzheimers. She was a talented and gracious woman of God. We have so many precious memories from her life and are comforted by the blessed assurance we have in Christ. The song that was playing by her bedside as she took her last breath was “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again.” A private family service will be held in Indianapolis on December 22 followed by a memorial service early next month at Brooksville Wesleyan Village in Florida. Thank you for your many prayers and kind notes of sympathy.
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Maximizing Impact – Westview
Pastor Ryan Budde and the leadership team at Westview Wesleyan hosted a Maximizing Impact consultation this past weekend. Rev. Paul James, Rev. Chris WIlliams and I spent Friday interviewing leaders and a focus group. On Saturday, Rev. James led the group of 20 congregational leaders in a seminar that included insights from Westview’s self-study and lifecycles of churches. Sunday morning, Rev. James brought the message in the morning service and then presented the report from the consulation team.
I’ll be back at Westview on Sunday evening, December 18, for the congregational town hall to discuss the prescriptions. On January 8, a congregational vote will be conducted on whether or not to receive the consultation team’s report. Westview has a great history and tremendous potential to impact their target community.
I interviewed a prospective church planter in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Monday morning and then Sherry and I visited my mother, Anne Gorveatte, at my sister’s home in Burnips. Thank you to all who have been lifting our family in prayer in this journey with Alzheimer’s.
Monday evening, I enjoyed connecting with Pastor Jarod Osborne and the LBA at Warsaw Wesleyan Church to consult with them as they implement the Accountable Leadership model of policy governance. They’ve adopted the model and are working with John Kaiser’s book, Winning on Purpose. These are good days at Warsaw Wesleyan!
I was in the Fishers office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to catch up on some writing projects and correspondence.
Thursday afternoon, I hosted Rev. James as we prepped for the weekend consultation at Westview Wesleyan. This is the 3rd consultation this fall and the calendar is filling up fast for the spring dates. If your church would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please contact me or Rev. Chris Williams to learn more about next steps.
Thursday evening, I attended the visitation for Pastor Duane and Cindy Summitt’s 8-year-old granddaughter, Mecenzie Bickel in Elwood. On Friday, I attended the funeral service and sat with Pastor and Mrs. Logan Westrick, who have ministered to Duane and Cindy through this tragedy. Pastor Bobby Bickel, Mecenzie’s father, preached the funeral message and pointed to the hope we have in Christ.
While in Elwood, I stopped in to see the progress at Central Wesleyan Church. Pastor Ben Capshaw and his team are getting close to having their occupancy certificate for the sanctuary. It really is remarkable to see how the ministry has flourished in spite of these difficulties. Plans call for them to be back in their facility in January.
Rev. David Bannach (Assistant Pastor at Hartford City) reports that Becky, his wife, has been released from the hospital after initial recovery from injuries sustained in an auto accident. She is making steady progress and your prayers are appreciated.
The pastors of the Crossroads District are meeting for zone Christmas fellowships this month. The Indy Zone, in Region 2, is led by Pastor Ben Thomas and gathered for their Christmas fellowship this past Friday evening. The North Zone of Region 3 is led by Pastor Don Bayne and they met on Sunday in evening in Plymouth. These zone fellowships are taking the place of the district-wide Christmas banquet of years past. For more information about zone events, check in with your regional director: Region 1 – Jason Tash, Region 2 – Mike Colaw, and Region 3 – Chris Williams.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Marc Ulrich’s family and Pastor Jordan Gardner’s family as they prepare to launch new Kingdom communities in Merrillville and Westfield in the coming year!
Together, raising up 1000 new disciple-making leaders to plant 100 new Kingdom communities and baptize 10,000 new disciples in the next 10 years!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. Attention all Youth Workers! FUEL is less than 2 months away (February 2-3, 2017)
What is FUEL? It’s a Thursday night-Friday night conference specifically designed for any and all Wesleyan Youth workers. With incredible worship led by Heartland Church, and teaching/breakout sessions from many voices across the Wesleyan youth movement, it will be a time of intimate connection with God and many other youth workers around the nation. We welcome YOU to register now for FUEL 2017!