Sherry and I had the joy of bringing greetings from the Crossroads District to the 10th anniversary celebration at Level 13 Church in Fort Wayne. Pastor Rob and Melinda Tippey left the security of a staff position at Lifeway Church in New Haven to step out in faith with a small launch team, including a teenage band, to plant a new church.
The group began meeting in Tippey’s basement before moving to rented facilities and finally to their current location. They’ve baptized more than 80 new believers in the past 10 years, sponsored missions teams to Central America, and launched their first daughter church (New Haven Impact) with Kory Christensen as campus pastor. Jordan Gardner, church planter at Paradox Church in Westfield, sent greetings and the Level 13 team received an offering to bless this new mission. To finish off the day, Pastor Rob baptized three new believers and cast vision for the next chapter in the exciting story of Level 13!
I was in the Marion office for a district staff meeting and then out to sign documents for two of our congregations on Monday afternoon. One of the signings was in Anderson with Rev. Carol Schenck, our District Secretary, as Pastor Jerry Alexander and the Central Wesleyan team make preparation to open a new childcare center under the direction of Ms. Brittani Day. This is a much needed ministry in their community and the facility improvements will also be a blessing for their growing congregation.
Tuesday morning, I met with a prospective church planter in Fishers, then met with Pastor Richard Cole in Lapel for lunch and our annual coaching conversation. I also enjoyed touring the recently remodeled facilities. They suffered significant water damage from a sprinkler system breakdown and had to vacate the property for several months. The renovations are complete and first class. They’re planning for an open house and dedication on May 7. Even more exciting than the updated facilities are the changed lives with 4 baptisms last month and 8 in their new members class.
Later Tuesday afternoon, I met with Rev. Clifton Ashlock in Anderson for our annual coaching dialogue. Some of you have been following the amazing story of Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church relocating to a facility offered by a nearby Friends congregation. It’s always exciting to hear the testimonies of life change (including 7 recent professions of faith) from this unique congregation that offers ministry in two languages. They are also selecting a new name for their church to capture the new work that God is doing here.
Tuesday evening, I was back at Muncie Memorial Drive to meet with their LBA under the leadership of Dr. Dale Wheeler. It was good to sit in and hear the steps they’re taking to reach their community for Christ. They are taking in 3 new members and getting ready for their next baptism service.
Wednesday morning, I met with Pastor Allen Laws in Warren for our CC (coaching conversation). This was my first visit to Warren and it was good to see the work that’s been completed under Pastor Allen’s leadership.
Sonlight Wesleyan Church in Bluffton was my next stop on Wednesday as I met with Pastor Lyle Breeding for our CC. This was another first-time visit for me so I appreciated learning about the history of the ministry. Pat Breeding has stepped up to lead the children’s ministry and Lane Sander, assistant pastor, is leading a growing counseling program that is having a real impact in their community. The leadership team is working on their self-study in preparation for the upcoming Maximizing Impact consultation.
Wednesday evening, I met with Pastor Calimerio Rodriguez and the leadership team at Frankfort Templo de Poder, our Hispanic congregation that worships with Pastor Alan Downing and the Frankfort First Wesleyan congregation. They have been experiencing attendance growth and this was a helpful conversation about future possibilities.
Thursday, I was off to teach the Congregational Leadership class at Wesley Seminary. For this session, we had the special privilege of hearing from the perspective of a committed lay leader in the person of Dr. Ed Hoover, a gifted and committed Christ-follower in the Crossroads District who has served The Wesleyan Church on local, district, denominational and university boards. The students really appreciated Ed’s wise insights and passion for the Church.
Friday was another highlight as I had the joy of meeting with Pastor Rob Tippey and the Fort Wayne zone pastors to take a significant step toward a new church plant. Our church planting process in the Crossroads District begins with our local pastors identifying church planting opportunities around them and then prioritizing those opportunities to focus their zone partnership. The next step is to interview prospective planters for their projects. If they agree that this planter is a good fit for one of their priority projects, they vote to recommend the planter and project to the DBA. With the zone’s recommendations, an assessment report and a strategic plan (with budgets and timelines) for the project, the DBA has authority to approve the project and appoint the planter.
The Fort Wayne Zone pastors agreed that planting a Hispanic church in Fort Wayne was a priority project. Latest census data recorded approximately 12,000 Hispanics in the city but market analysis estimates that the number may be closer to 20,000. We were also able to interview prospective planters for this new work. It was inspiring to hear how God has been working ahead of us to bring this family to Fort Wayne after years of effective ministry with The Wesleyan Church in Costa Rica. There are still logistical questions of immigration, funding and strategic planning to work through, but this is a big step forward for the Fort Wayne Zone and the Crossroads District.
On Friday evening, Sherry and I hosted the Hispanic Zone pastors and spouses at our home in Upland. It was a heartwarming evening of fellowship, worship and prayer. Dr. Norm and Kim Wilson have played a key role in encouraging the development of this team of leaders. Raleigh and Luis Pedro also helped us host and translated through the evening. We are praying and working together toward the day when we have as many as 25 Hispanic congregations in our district.
Please join me in praying for Pastor Lloyd Moore (Cicero United). He was admitted to the hospital in very serious condition on Thursday but has responded well to treatment and, pending doctor’s orders today, may be released on Tuesday to recover at home.
We’re also praying for Rev. E.R. Mitchell and his family. Rev. Mitchell suffered a serious heart attack over the weekend and is not doing well. He is one of our district’s heroes who has faithfully served the Lord and proclaimed the Gospel for more than 70 years.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,