Sunday morning, September 26, Dr. Oliver Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church celebrated their 50th anniversary of the faith-filled journey from a landlocked facility to their present spacious campus on the south end of the city. The first planting attempt in Plymouth happened in 1843 but the present congregation dates its root back to evangelistic meetings held there in 1893.
It was a real privilege to celebrate with them in both the 9 a.m. service (Gaither style) and the 10:30 service (Third Day style). They had a hall of memories with pictures of members and ministers from years past, including familiar faces like Rev. Lyle and Pat Breeding, Rev. Geoff (Jeff) and Arianna Eckart, and Rev. Robert Kenworthy (deceased) long-time pastor and former DS of the Indiana North District. Pastor Ollie and his team hosted everyone for a chicken dinner after the second service and they also set up huge inflatables for the children in their gymnasium.
Under Dr. Dongell’s leadership, Plymouth Wesleyan is regaining in-person worship attendance and launching new ministries including a men’s hunting group and a new group for younger mothers. Pray that this next chapter of ministry will be blessed by God as Plymouth Wesleyan reaches out to their community with the Good News!
Sunday afternoon, I met with Pastor Ruben and Susana Santos in their home in Goshen. God has been blessing their outreach work with a South Bend extension of Elkhart’s Cielos Abiertos. They are also connecting with families in Goshen and now in Warsaw. Pray as they continue to make disciples, primarily among the growing Hispanic communities in these cities.
In addition to normal flow of telephone consultations and staff meetings, last week’s calendar included coaching conversations with Rev. Shane Wilson (Columbia City New Hope), Rev. Lane Sander (Bluffton Sonlight) and Pastor Thomas Beck (Larwill Wesleyan). We have a wonderful team of pastors!
Sherry and I always appreciate the opportunity to host district pastors and spouses in our home. In previous years, we’ve hosted folks from one zone at a time. This year, to provide greater flexibility to our pastors and to increase the interactions from across the district, we opened up several dates from which pastors can select one that works best for them.
This past Friday night, we welcomed our first five couples for the new season, none of whom knew who else might be attending. This group represented churches in Monon, Anderson, Chesterfield, Bryant, and South Bend. We had Americans, Canadians, and Venezuelans. Between the 12 of us, we could speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and even a little French. It was great to enjoy a meal, laugh together and pray for one another as brothers and sisters in the ministerial family of the Crossroads District!
Saturday, I was blessed to spend the day with 17 of our district ministers in training. The Crossroads District received approval from Education and Clergy Development to offer a Wesleyan Church History and Discipline course as a noncredit opportunity to complete this ordination requirement.
The class was a beautiful expression of Kingdom diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, and ministry contexts, from established multiple-staff congregations to new church plants. We’ll be doing our next five sessions via Zoom and then concluding with another full day on October 23. Special thanks to Rev. Chris Williams and Lakeview Church for graciously hosting our students and to Rev. Carla Working for her exceptional assistance as course registrar.
Nothing brings more joy than hearing reports of lives being changed by the Gospel and people making public professions of faith through baptism celebrations. This week, we have already received word from Rev. Tim Becker, pastor of Elwood Main Street Wesleyan Church, that they baptized 5 new believers on Sunday. Praise the Lord for lives being #MadeNew!
Dr. Mark Schnell, who has been serving with me in interim ministry at Hartford City Wesleyan Church, had the joy of baptizing one young man yesterday morning. Two other ladies were scheduled to take this step of faith but Covid-19 guidelines resulted in postponement. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Schnell for coming alongside me as we’ve served HCWC together for the past six months. Mark successfully defended his dissertation and completed his Ph.D in homiletics from the University of Toronto this summer while serving with us. Dr. Schnell also continues to teach preaching as an adjunct for Indiana Wesleyan University and Wesley Seminary.
I have been serving Hartford City Wesleyan as "very part-time" interim pastor for the past year since the unexpected transition of their senior pastor last summer. With Covid restrictions lasting longer than anticipated, I encouraged the board to consider a full-time interim pastor and directed them to TIPS (Transitional Interim Pastor Services), a group of Nazarene and Wesleyan pastors who do this well. We have signed an agreement with TIPS that will officially begin on October 1. Dr. Schnell had joined the team as my assistant for preaching and congregational care, so when I stepped away from my service to HCWC effective September 30, Mark’s position also concluded. Mark is an exceptional teacher and preacher. If you have supply preaching opportunities, please reach out to me and I can pass along Mark’s contact information.
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 the speaker lineup and more detailed information, please visit: gathering.heartlandregion.org
Retired pastors and their spouses are reminded that they have been invited to join us for our Fall Fellowship to be held 10:30 to noon on Friday, November 12, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion. You may register by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a voicemail message at our office: 765-674-8593
Let’s keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent