Eastview Wesleyan Church in Gas City hosted a special service for graduates and their families on Sunday morning, May 17. Pastor Mark Atkinson and his team were diligent in providing masking, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. The doors were opened for us by a greeter with smiling eyes behind a mask. The chairs were arranged for households to sit together but with generous spacing from others. At the close of the service, people were released one row at a time to alleviate crowding in the foyer. I was glad to be part of this service and to see how Eastview took prudent steps to care for the health and safety of those who were able to gather. It is clear that all of us will be in learning mode as our churches carefully move toward reopening for gathered worship.
Before heading to Eastview, I dropped in on Assistant DS Matthew Trexler and the team at The River Church for their 8:45 service. They offered three live morning worship experiences with social distancing. During the 11:15 service they celebrated what may have been the first baptism in the Crossroads District for our new conference year (When you have baptism services, please pass along the good news and photos so we can celebrate with you.)!
Several of our churches held services in their buildings this week with many more planning to be open for Pentecost Sunday, May 31. Others took the opportunity to use their parking lots for drive-in services. Not every church has a parking lot that is conducive for this but, for those who do, it does provide a next step to regathering as a church family. United Wesleyan in Anderson and Six Points Church in Sheridan were two of our congregations meeting outdoors yesterday.
Last week’s schedule included coaching conversations with Pastor Zach Szmara (Logansport Bridge) and Pastor Greg Holmes (South Bend Sonlight). On Tuesday afternoon, about 50 of our district pastors gathered online for some brief announcements and then moved into breakout rooms for sharing and prayer. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent and member of our district, was able to join us for this Zoom call. I was blessed to connect with Rev. Theo Griffin (Greenfield Brown’s Chapel), Rev. Dave Leitzel (Hamilton Wesleyan), and Rev. Mark Atkinson (Gas City Eastview) in our breakout room. I am always encouraged to hear of God’s faithfulness in the lives and ministries of our district team.
Seth Bye and I had the opportunity to visit with Pastor Alan Downing and Brett Todd, Pastor Alan’s partner, on Friday to see the amazing remodeling project that is almost complete at Connecting Point Church in Frankfort. They’ve completely redone the auditorium and created two new classroom spaces near the entry to the building. The final project they’ve been working on is remodeling their kitchen and fellowship hall to expand capacity to serve needy families in their neighborhood.
The elderly congregation at Michigantown Mt. Hope Chapel voted last week and made the difficult decision to bring their gathered ministry to a close. Seth and I met with three of the 7 remaining members on Friday to walk through next steps. The building and parsonage will be sold with the proceeds to be reinvested in church planting that perpetuates the legacy of this faithful congregation. Dr. Max Kingsolver has been diligently serving this church in his retirement years until recent health complications made it impossible for him to continue. This is a difficult decision for any congregation, but the good news is that the members with whom we met are planning to connect with area Wesleyan churches. We had a time of prayer together with thanksgiving for these leaders and for all the people who have come to Christ through the ministry of this church over the many year. Their labor in the Lord has not been in vain!
Two of our pastors graduated from seminary in the past few weeks. Pastor Dan Clark serves our Monon Wesleyan Church and graduated with the Master of Divinity degree from Anderson University’s School of Theology. Rev. Ryan VanMatre pastors the south campus of LifeSpring Church in Richmond. Ryan graduated from Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University with the Master of Divinity degree. Congratulations to both of these pastors (and their families) who completed this academic journey while also faithfully serving their congregations!
We are praising the Lord for answered prayer. On Tuesday, Pastor Calimerio Rodriguez shared the wonderful news that both he and Sister Maria are both testing negative after 6 weeks battling the coronavirus. Rev. Carol Schenck continues to provide positive updates on the slow but steady recovery of her brother, Ron. David and Michele Henry shared pictures of the Henry family worshiping together at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church on Sunday morning. We join these families in praising God for answered prayer!
Things are slowly moving back toward normal in Indiana, at least a new normal, with the governor allowing stores and restaurants to reopen. For the first time since February, Sherry and I will be welcoming pastors and spouses back to Thornapple for a Friday evening fellowship. Our guests this week will be the pastors and spouses of the Region 2 North Central Zone led by Pastor Johnnie Blair. We are grateful for the opportunity to invite our lead pastors and their spouses to join us each year for one of these evenings of fellowship, food, laughter, and prayer. We hope to see you soon!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. – May 31, Pentecost Sunday, is the Sunday that The Wesleyan Church sets aside to focus on congregations multiplying to reach new communities and people groups. Dr. Ed Love has provided a great resource website to help your congregation prepare for this emphasis. The challenge is to raise awareness and financial support for the power of local church multiplication. Here’s the link: Church Multiplication Sunday
On Sunday evening, May 31, Pentecost Sunday, Wesleyans around the world are gathering online to worship and pray for the fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. This hour-long event begins at 7 p.m. (EST). “Wesleyans are people of prayer,” said General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt. “We live and minister daily knowing that prayer is foundational to any work of the Holy Spirit. May 31 is an important time for us to be together and continue building our Kingdom Force foundation.” Pastors can find more information at: