Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Allen and Grace Gross at Cicero United Family Church on Sunday morning, January 17. Since my last visit, they’ve returned to the original sanctuary for their worship services. Attendance (in person) has been rebounding with 55 on a recent weekend. They have welcomed first-time guests again this month. Last conference year, they celebrated 10 professions of faith and 2 baptisms.
After the service, I met with the Local Board of Administration and then Sherry and I hosted the Gross family (with their three beautiful children) for a fun time over lunch. Allen, another one of our faithful bi-vocational ministers, has served at Cicero United, first as assistant and now as pastor, for 12 years.
Sunday afternoon, I joined Rev. Zack Working and Rev. Carla Working at Hope Rising Church in Huntington for a Local Church Conference (LCC) to re-establish the church. The congregation had requested that the DBA place them in developing church status for a few years as they revitalized the ministry. Average attendance has increased from 47 in 2018 to 108 last year. Although they’ve had to close on a few occasions during the pandemic, attendance for the month of January has continued to average over 100. The membership has grown from 30 to 60 in the past two years. Last year they baptized 24 new believers. It was a delight to celebrate this milestone as the LCC adopted standing rules and elected their representative leaders.
Last week’s schedule included pre-vote conversations with Rev. Jeremy Armiger (Chesterfield Parkview), Rev. Jarod Osborne (Warsaw Pathway), Pastor Ben Jones (Beaver Creek), and Rev. Dr. Oliver Dongell (Plymouth). I also enjoyed connecting with Rev. Logan Patriquin (Lafayette The Branch) for our annual coaching conversation.
The highlight of the week was the opportunity to be part of the District Board of Ministerial Development interviews with ordination candidates. Dr. David Smith, chair, and Rev. Carla Working, vice-chair, lead a great team of committee members across our district who serve as many as 100 ministerial candidates each year. On Saturday, we interviewed Allen Gross, John Miller, Brandon Shroyer, Christian Kelley, Kyle Horton, Joshua Warren, Edward Ensley, and Joyce Dixon. Every candidate shared encouraging reports of God working in their lives and ministry. Our 2021 ordination service is schedule for Friday evening, June 25, in Marion.
We are praying and working toward launching 10 new Kingdom communities each year. The pandemic hasn’t slowed our progress with 3 projects approved at the last DBA and at least one coming to the DBA meeting February. The most effective way to plant churches is when one healthy congregation launches a new daughter congregation or campus. This past Saturday evening was a beautiful example of this as Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero and the Elkhart Cielos Abiertos Iglesia Wesleyana congregation helped Rev. Ruben Santos launch a new Saturday evening service in South Bend hosted by Rev. Greg Holmes and the Sonlight Church. Sixty people showed up to help with this launch and, best of all, two people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!
Sherry joins me in expressing sincere condolences on behalf of the Crossroads District team to the family Mrs. Nancy Snell, (widow of Rev. Jim Snell one of our retired pastors who had served at Beaver Creek Wesleyan) on her passing. The funeral service will be held at Beaver Creek Wesleyan Church, 66027 Redwood Road, North Liberty, on Saturday at 11 am. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the Snell family.
In addition to the team members for whom we are already praying, please include Mrs. Lenita Bell, wife of Pastor Jerome Bell (Autumn Hills church plant). Both of her aging parents have contracted Covid-19 and her father is critically ill. Lenita is caring for her mother at the family home in Ohio while her father is hospitalized in Columbus.
You still have time to sign up! The Crossroads District and the Thrive Initiative of The Wesleyan Church are providing a practical way to bless our pastors. You are running hard in ministry but, to sustain long-term effectiveness, you also need to rest well. Toward that end, we are making available a $475 grant towards a retreat of two nights or more. Learning resources and planning tools are provided to make this time as profitable as possible. When you complete your retreat, the Thrive Initiative has a $500 matching grant available with a second set of learning resources.
If your church also elects to participate in this initiative (i.e. paying down ministerial student loans, topping up retirement, fitness equipment), additional matching funds up to $500 are available. For the first month, this opportunity is only available to the first 100 solo or senior pastors that sign up. This opportunity will be made available to assistant pastors starting February 2, 2021.
For more details, please follow this link:
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent