Sunday morning, March 24, I was able to worship with Pastor Mark Atkinson and the team at Eastview Wesleyan Church in Gas City. These are exciting days of Kingdom advancement at Eastview as they prepare to launch their first campus in Jonesboro on April 7 in the building of the former Main Street Wesleyan Church. Rev. Noah Farmer has been commissioned to lead the launch team. Eastview is believing God for 30 baptisms in this conference year. Pastor Mark did a great job casting vision in his message for their 3 focal points: 1) influencing their community, 2) impacting their children and 3) increasing their capacity to fulfill their M&M calling: to Make and Mature disciples.
Before heading to Eastview, I dropped in at Exit Church, a ministry launched 14 years ago by our friends Darren & Nancy Campbell. Olivia Eckart, daughter of Rev. Jeff & Arriana Eckart, was preaching her last sermon as she wraps up her master’s degree in IWU’s Kern program. The future of the church is bright with emerging leaders like Olivia stepping out to answer God’s call to ministry.
Last week began with a Monday meeting of our Region 1 leaders hosted by Pastor Matthew Trexler and the River Church team in Marion. Pastor David Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan) and Pastor Mark Atkinson (Eastview) shared updates from the multiplication initiatives at their respective churches. We broke into groups for a productive conversation on trends and how they shape the context in which we minister. After the session, we continued the conversations and laughter over lunch at Casa Brava. I’m always encouraged to hear us sharing stories of bold vision and Kingdom-expanding faith from our front line leaders.
Tuesday began with a meeting at IWU with Dr. Jim Lo, Mrs. Sue Wampner, and Dr. David Smith as they finalized plans for our spring Prayer Gathering, April 13 (Registration Link). I appreciate their willingness to adjust the schedule to a one-day event on Saturday to facilitate greater participation by lay leaders and bi-vocational pastors. We’ll be meeting for prayer at Fairmount Campground from 10-1 with a free lunch provided. Later on Tuesday, after our weekly office staff meeting at Abbey Coffee, Pastor Brian Scramlin and I met for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Brian is teaching through Genesis and has been able to answer tough questions with wisdom and grace.
Wednesday morning, I met with one of our pastoral couples to explore possibilities for their upcoming sabbatical. I’m glad to be part of a denomination that provides a minimum of 30 days for sabbatical after every 7 years of service. For more information, check out this link: https://www.wesleyan.org/sabbaticals-learning-to-thrive and Sabbatical Policy example
Wednesday afternoon, church planter Rev. Marc Ulrich and I met in Merrillville. Marc and Heather are in their fourth year of planting ReThink Church. Church planting is never easy but they’ve encountered some unique challenges in a city that is heavily Catholic/Lutheran and skeptical of new ministries. They are sowing good seeds through community engagement and making disciples who are now reproducing. Keep these faithful church pioneers in your prayers!
Thursday, I was on the road again for coaching conversations with Dr. Ollie Dongell (Plymouth Wesleyan) and Rev. Mike Cloud (The Cross in Rochester). One of the highlights of the day was having Dr. Dongell drive me past the four sites where Plymouth Wesleyan held services after its beginning from a revival service held back in the 1890s. Here’s a picture of the first building they constructed for worship.
Each of those relocations required faith and sacrifice. Today, they minister to more than 600 people each weekend because of the previous generation’s faithfulness and vision.
Thursday evening, I met with the Local Board of Administration at Hartford City Wesleyan Church as they continue in their pastoral search process. They’ve received a large number of resumes and are prayerfully seeking God’s woman or man who will lead the church into the next chapter of ministry.
Friday morning, I met with Dr. Robert Hallett, founder of TLC Ministries, to explore future opportunities to leverage his experience in stewardship development for our Crossroads District churches. Dr. Hallett is semi-retired near Hartford City and would be available to partner with your church in capital campaigns or pulpit supply.
Friday afternoon, I represented the Crossroads District at the funeral of Rev. Dr. Robert McIntyre, General Superintendent Emeritus. Pastor Tim McClellan and the team at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan graciously hosted this celebration of Dr. McIntyre’s life and ministry. Dr. Norman Wilson preached the message and Rev. Chad McCallum shared a powerful tribute built around the theme “But I called him, Grandpa.”
Friday evening, I had the privilege of hosting Rev. Joshe Bose, National Director of The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh, and Dr. Richard Schenck for supper in Noblesville. It was good to hear more of their plans for the future in our continued partnership with the Crossroads District. Rev. Bose will be returning to Indiana in April for his graduation from Wesley Seminary. We are planning to take another team to Bangladesh in the coming conference year so let us know if you’d be interested in this vision tour.
Saturday morning, several of our bivocational pastors joined me at The Branch in Fairmount for a meeting designed for those who have responsibilities that preclude their participation in our weekday events. Special thanks to Pastor Jeff Luedtke and his team for hosting this meeting and catering our lunch.
Saturday afternoon, I was in Muncie to meet with Rev. Victor and Rev. Claudia Silva who lead Casa del Alfarero, the Hispanic Wesleyan Church in Richmond. I am grateful for their leadership and commitment to reaching their community for Christ.
My last stop of the day was at Rising Hope Church’s remodeling project. Rev. John Wiest and more than a dozen volunteers from Indianapolis Trinity jumped in to help with the project. Several of Rising Hope’s congregation that are students at Ball State University also showed up for the work day. The team is excited to finish up this project in the next few weeks so they can move from the middle school into their permanent home. Thank you to each of our churches who are praying, giving and volunteering to help this new church get off the ground!
Many of you have heard of the devastating cyclone that ravaged northern Mozambique. General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt has issued a call to activate WERF, the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund. Mozambique is one of the two mission fields that the Crossroads District has been partnering with in recent years. Our district Global Partners co-leaders, Rev. David Hines and Rev. Steve Mathews, are challenging us to respond to this urgent need and will be releasing matching funds at churches give. You’ll receive a further communication from our office later this week, but begin now praying about how your church can respond to this crisis.
Registrations for ReEquip 2019 are running ahead of last year. There’s still time to sign up and bring your lay leaders for inspiration and ministry training in the breakout sessions for youth, children, worship and multicultural ministries. Spanish language translation services will be provided. (Se prestarán servicios de traducción al español.)
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent