Sunday morning, February 28, I had the privilege of worshiping at Columbia City New Hope Church with Pastor Shane and Jill Wilson. There was a wonderful spirit of worship in both the 9 and 10:30 gatherings and I enjoyed preaching to this responsive congregation. Their “in person” Sunday services are rebounding with 60 percent or more of their pre-pandemic attendance. Pastor Shane has done a remarkable job of leading the congregation, first through the leadership transition from Jason Tash and now through the pandemic. New Hope Church has a vibrant and community-impacting ministry.
Elkhart Cielos Abiertos Iglesia Wesleyana had a beautiful service of commissioning on Sunday afternoon as Pastor Eliorgy and Zoriada Guerrero passed the mantle of leadership to Jose and Angiee Cardenas. I was blessed to be part of this commissioning service and to bring a message from God’s Word. Rev. and Mrs. Guerrero will be moving to Tennessee and are in contact with DS Aaron Sherman about planting a church in Chattanooga. The Guerrero’s planted this church in Elkhart three years ago and then commissioned Pastor Ruben and Susana Santos to plant a new church in South Bend just this past year before answering God’s call to Tennessee. They have another couple in the Elkhart congregation that is answering the call to church planting and prayerfully seeking God’s direction for open doors. This service was a beautiful demonstration of an Acts 13 moment in a multiplying church!
Sunday evening, I enjoyed meeting with Rev. Don Bayne and the LBA at New Carlisle Wesleyan Church, on the west side of South Bend. Pastor Bayne has served effectively at New Carlisle for 26 years. He is both loved and respected by his leadership team. Their next baptism service is planned for this coming Sunday!
Last week’s schedule included coaching conversations on Tuesday and Wednesday with Rev. Tony Bye (Marion Brookhaven Church), Rev. Steve Colter (Marion Chapel Pike), and Rev. Brad LeRoy (McCordsville Harvest Church). While I was at Brookhaven, I had a chance to speak with Rev. Michelle Henry who was celebrating 77 children present on Sunday morning, more than they were averaging pre-pandemic. Churches that regather well will be making youth and children’s ministry a high priority.
Monday morning, I joined Rev. Luis Martinez and the team at Impacto for an online staff retreat. It would certainly have been more enjoyable to spend time with them in Guatemala, but I was glad to be able to share a seminar with them from Galatians 6:9 on faithfulness in ministry. Adam and Stacy Griner, also from our Crossroads District, led music for worship.
Monday evening, I was glad to meet with Rev. Jarod Osborne and the LBA at Warsaw Pathway Community Church. Pastor Jarod leads a strong team with a great heart for the community. I am grateful for the many outstanding lay leaders who invest in the life and ministry of our churches.
I drove out to St. Louis on Wednesday evening for a series of sessions with district superintendent colleagues on Thursday and Friday. These are challenging days in our culture and the church is not immune to the conflict and controversies around us. We were blessed to have General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt join us for most of our Friday morning session. We concluded our time together with prayer for Dr. Schmidt and by participating in Holy Communion.
I came away encouraged by the unwavering commitment to our Articles of Religion and the other doctrinal statements of our church. There is no question that our resolve will be tested in the years ahead, but we stand on solid Biblical theology and orthodox moral principles. We are bound together in the vision of making disciples and multiplying gatherings to spread hope and holiness that transforms lives, churches, and communities.
The memorial passed by our DBA last month was evidence of our desire to be proactive rather than reactive. There is no legislation proposed anywhere in the church to change our doctrinal positions. Our goal is simply to create maximum incentive for our beloved denomination to stay faithful in the face of enormous societal pressure to compromise in the future. Let’s work and pray to that end!
In other news across the district family, Pastor Dan Clark received and accepted a four-year renewal of call from the unanimous vote of the members at Monon Wesleyan Church. We are grateful for Dan’s willingness to faithfully preach the Word and serve well even while undergoing cancer treatment.
Rev. Josh Bowlin was selected as the next senior pastor for Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church upon the retirement of Rev. Steve Colter at the end of the church conference year in 2022. This is part of a succession plan developed by Rev. Colter and the LBA last fall. Rev. Bowlin came to Christ through the ministry of Chapel Pike, was mentored by Rev. Colter, served with Global Partners, and currently serves on staff at East City Wesleyan Church in Auckland, New Zealand. Rev. Bowlin and his family will come on staff at Chapel Pike in January and then he will be installed as Senior Pastor on April 24, 2022. We are excited to welcome the Bowlins back home to the Crossroads District and congratulate Chapel Pike on this important step in the succession process.
We’re rejoicing this week with Pastor Dan Fisher and the team at Delphi Wesleyan Church as they celebrated four baptisms on Sunday morning. Praise God for lives being #madenew!
We are also rejoicing with Richmond LifeSpring Church as they celebrated 11 baptisms last weekend. Six of those were at the South Campus and five were at the North Campus. I’m glad that Covid-19 cannot stop the forward progress of God’s Kingdom!
Congratulations to Rev. Calimerio and Maria Rodriguez (Frankfort Templo de Poder) on the arrival of their first granddaughter, Linora, born to Mikayla and Ezequiel (their son) Rodriguez this weekend!
Congratulations to Rev. Shawnda Dykhoff Bilbee (pastor of Brinker Heights Wesleyan Church) on her wedding this past Saturday to Mr. Kyle Bilbee with Rev. Mark Atkinson (Eastview Wesleyan) officiating. Shawnda is also the daughter of another Crossroads District pastor, Rev. Ken Dykhoff (on staff with Mark at Eastview Wesleyan).
Please continue to pray for Pastor Allen Laws as he cares for Cheryl, his wife, at home. Her medical condition is not improving and we are joining them seeking God for His grace and strength.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent