Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Hartford City Wesleyan Church yesterday morning. Pastor Tom Parsons and his team lead a warm and welcoming congregation that averages more than 200 in a county with less than 13,000 people. After the morning service and a brief meeting with the LBA, Pastor Tom & Kara and their 5 wonderful children joined us for lunch.
It was encouraging to hear how God has been faithful through the 16 years that Tom has led this congregation. One of the commitments that Hartford City Wesleyan Church made under Pastor Tom’s leadership was to invest 10% to support missions. They’ve baptized 30 new believers in the past few years and their beautiful facility (set on 14 acres) is debt-free.
Last Monday’s meetings began with our district staff connecting in Marion. The last meeting of the day was with the Local Board of Administration at Greentown Wesleyan Church as they reviewed and unanimously recommended the renewal of Rev. Eric Roemer’s pastoral call. I’m grateful for the good work that Eric and Amanda are doing in leading the turnaround at Greentown.
On Tuesday, I met Phil Struckmeyer and Troy Evans for lunch and an afternoon meeting learning about their continuing efforts to catalyze urban church planting through the Nitrogen Network. It is always encouraging to connect with these two long-time friends who were among the first leaders to step out and plant churches with our West Michigan District team. Pastor Troy Evans is working with our team on a potential inner-city church plant in South Bend.
Tuesday evening, Sherry and I enjoyed a delightful evening of fellowship with pastors and spouses in the Marion North Zone hosted at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. Pastor Tony Bye, our zone chair, organized the gathering but was absent due to the death of his father. Pastor Steve Colter did a fine job filling in as our master of ceremonies. This fellowship was an “after-Christmas” event scheduled by the pastors in this zone who determined that Christmas was to hectic and that it would be more relaxing to connect in January.
Wednesday, I conducted an annual coaching conversation with Pastor Tom Cochran at Expansion Church in Chesterton. Tom and Sarah are doing an incredible job in turning around this ministry and focusing it on multiplication.
From Chesterton, I drove back to meet with Pastor Bill Dixon at Davis Church (near Hamlet). It was encouraging to see the progress that Pastor Bill and the team are making in reviving this rural congregation. I just missed Chip Bos from College Wesleyan Church who had driven over to help Pastor Bill resolve some technical issues with their sound system. I love seeing our churches reach out to help each other!
Thursday morning began with a breakfast meeting as Chris Williams and I connected with Dr. Jim Fuller and Emily Hathaway to learn more about a pilot project they’re rolling out that engages active retirees in meaningful ministry. We’ve invited them to share more about this at our Retired Pastors Fellowship on May 9, 2017.
I met with Pastor Jon Wiest, Crossroads District Director of Multiplication, for lunch in Marion before heading south. I met with a prospective pastor for a brief interview at HQ before heading over to Sheridan Six Points to meet with Pastor Steve Martin and their Local Board of Administration. They are diligently implementing the plan of action from their Maximizing Impact consultation. It’s always a joy to connect with this team.
Pastor Mike and Tina Hilson were with us on Friday and Saturday for an event co-sponsored by Wesley Seminary and the Crossroads District. On Friday morning, Pastor Mike shared the discipleship process at New Life Church in La Plata, Maryland. On Friday afternoon, he shared insights from the new book he’s writing on the leadership principles from the life of Moses. The Saturday morning session focused on becoming a multiplication movement. Saturday evening and Sunday morning, Pastor Mike and Tina connected with Pastor Mike Colaw and leaders of Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan.
I was encouraged by the strong turnout of pastors and lay leaders from across our district. It really will take all of us working together to baptize 10,000 new disciples, equip 1,000 new disciple-making leaders, and plant 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years. Thank you to all who invested their time in this learning encounter!
Our sympathy is extended to Pastor Tony Bye (Brookhaven) and Pastor Seth Bye (Waterline) on the loss of their father and grandfather, and to Pastor Logan Patriquin on the passing of his grandfather. Once again, I am thankful for the blessed hope we share in Christ’s triumphant resurrection.
There’s nothing that brings more joy in a congregation than celebrating the new spiritual birthdays that are taking place in our church family. Expansion Church and Tipton Trinity both celebrated baptisms yesterday. Have you scheduled a baptism service for the Easter season?
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,