Sunday afternoon, July 19, I had the joy of worshiping with Pastor Rodriguez and preaching for Templo de Poder Iglesia Wesleyana in Frankfort. Pastor Calimario and Maria Rodriguez both experienced Covid-19 this spring and have fully recovered. The church reconvened public worship gatherings last month and continues to stream their services online with an international congregation. Pastor Alan Downing at Connecting Point Church (formerly First Wesleyan) and Pastor Rodriguez (Templo de Poder) have developed a vibrant partnership. Both churches are growing as they serve their community together.
Sunday morning, I had the privilege of preaching at Hartford City Wesleyan Church. Attendance continues to be above 50 percent of the pre-Covid numbers. It was a delight to welcome a new member into the church family yesterday. We also announced our first baptism service of the new conference year to be held on August 16. While HCWC is moving through this time of transition while searching for a new pastor, I am meeting with the staff on Mondays, chairing the monthly LBA meeting and preaching once each month with DBA approval. Thank you to our District Board for allowing this opportunity for me to be reminded of the joys and challenges of serving on the frontlines of ministry.
Tuesday morning, I met with our office team and then we joined Dr. David Smith to review the upcoming year with our new District Board of Ministerial Development, including arrangements for our Crossroads District ordination service on August 15, 1 p.m., at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church. We are delighted that Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, will be presiding and preaching at this year’s event.
Tuesday afternoon and evening we convened our monthly District Pastors ZOOM meeting. We offered two time slots (2 pm and 8 pm.) in consideration of the many bivocational pastors on our team. The afternoon group was larger than the evening group. The best part of these connections is the breakout rooms in which we share praise reports and have an opportunity to pray for one another.
Wednesday was so much fun as I traveled north across our district connecting and praying with pastors. My first stop was in Rochester at The Cross Wesleyan Church with Pastor Mike Cloud. Mike just returned from a refreshing break. He was glad to show me the progress they’ve made in building on and remodeling their sanctuary.
Dr. Ollie Dongell and I met at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. Ollie and his family had gathered for vacation earlier this month in South Carolina. Plymouth Wesleyan is one of the host sites for Covid-19 testing in their county.
Pastor David Cox and I met at his antique mall in Warsaw. David serves the Laketon Wesleyan Church as a bi-vocational pastor. He and Suzanne have done a great job in revitalizing that congregation through community outreach.
Pastor Shane Wilson and I met at Columbia City New Hope Church in his office. The church has responded well to the pandemic. Shane and Jill are in a new stage of life with their first child heading off to college this fall.
Pastor Thomas and Julie Beck welcomed me to their home on Smalley Lake, near Kimmell. Thomas is another of our bi-vocational pastors. He has faithfully served the Larwill Wesleyan Church since 2000. Last year, they baptized 14 new believers.
Rev. Eliorgy Guerrero and I met for supper in Elkhart where he leads the Cielos Abiertos Iglesia Wesleyana. Eligory and his family are among a growing number of Venezuelan refugees who have settled in near Elkhart. He is a gifted leader and I am grateful for our partnership in the Gospel.
My final stop of the day was with Rev. Dale Munsell at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church near Albion. Dale and his team have been busy during the pandemic with a major remodeling of their entryway. He is also encouraged by a promising young adult connection in their community who is helping with their technology.
We have a wonderful team of pastors and it is such a privilege to pray with and encourage them as we work together to reach 3 million people here in the Crossroads.
Thursday, our office team met at Abbey Coffee in Marion to review our website with Michael (Woody) Wood, our communications director. It can be a painful experience to see how quickly your social media can become outdated. We would welcome your input on ways we can improve our online footprint. When was the last time your team reviewed and refreshed your website?
Thursday evening, I chaired the LBA meeting at Hartford City Wesleyan Church. They are experiencing the same challenges that many of you are facing. One of those challenges we are all working on is rebuilding in-person ministry to those who gather in your building while continuing to improve ministry to your online congregation.
I was on the road again on Friday. Pastor Marc Ulrich and I met for prayer at ReThink Church in Merrillville. Marc continues to find open doors in serving the community as they plant this church. Marc has been active in the Chamber of Commerce and works with the career development program at their city’s high school. Saturday, they had a great time hosting the Merrillville Student Business Expo in the church building.
My next stop was with Rev. Judy Hatt in Fowler where she serves as pastor for Hope Wesleyan Church. Judy is not our youngest pastor but she has more energy than most of us. Lately, she and her team have been busy making masks for the community.
Lafayette was my next stop. Pastor Joe and Nancy Park welcomed me into their home. For the past few months, Nancy has been working from home. Pastor Joe and I enjoyed catching up and sharing in prayer together. Rev. Park is the longest tenured pastor in our district. I am grateful for the faithful leadership that Joe has provided to Evergreen Wesleyan Church since 1974.
Dr. Morris and Anita Jones were having a yard sale when I arrived at their home late on Friday afternoon. Dr. Jones is another of our bi-vocational pastors who also serves as a student advisor for IUPUI. It was good to hear how God has been faithfully providing through the pandemic.
Friday evening, I was blessed to be able to worship with Phil & Diane Foley at Frankfort Family Camp. Pastor Bob Van Cise brought a helpful message from God’s Word on the question “Do You Want to Get Well?” Though the crowd was much smaller than previous years, it was good to connect with familiar faces. This week, there will be morning Bible studies offered at Fairmount Camp but there will be no drive-in evening services.
This week, Sherry and I will be in Grand Rapids (Thursday over Saturday) for Jordan and Sam’s wedding reception. Rev. Seth Bye will be covering for me but I will be available for emergency calls. Sunday, July 26, I look forward to being with Rev. Steve Arnett and his team at New Castle Mt. Zion Wesleyan for their two morning services.
Congratulations to two of our pastoral families who celebrated weddings this weekend. Rev. Michael and Kim Hewitt’s (Muncie Rising Hope) daughter Brianne married Mark Flanagin in Muncie Saturday. Rev. David and Stevie Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan) celebrated the marriage of their daughter Bekah to Evan Gustin in Fort Wayne on Saturday. Congratulations to these newlyweds and their families!
This was in last week’s update but this is a great opportunity. This year, due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Church of the Highlands will be hosting their Grow Conference as a free online event on July 28 -29. You will be able to learn the heart behind all that Grow has to offer, as well as how to practically implement essential systems and structures into your church, through live main sessions and an opportunity to connect with the Highlands staff team to get your questions answered. This dynamic online event will empower and refresh you, as well as provide you with the practical ministry tools and resources you need to help your church grow.
Pastors in Region 1 are invited to be part of the online event hosted in Marion by Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and The River Church. Pastors in Region 2 are welcome to join the event hosted in Indianapolis by Assistant DS Mike Colaw and Trinity Wesleyan Church. Pastors in Region 3 are welcome at either location or may find it more convenient to participate online. Lunch will be provided both days. Please register by Wednesday, JULY 22ND, so our host churches can get an accurate number for lunch.
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. Crossroads District Ordination Service, August 15, at Lakeview Wesleyan Church. All ordained ministers will gather at 12:30 for group photo and directions. The service will begin at 1 p.m. and will be live-streamed. Reservations are required for seating in the auditorium. A reception will follow.