Sunday morning, August 21, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Gary Bingham and the wonderful congregation at Marion Hillside Wesleyan Church. The church is rebuilding from the pandemic with 100 in average attendance last year and with 8 new believers baptized. In addition to their neighborhood outreach, Hillside has an active ministry partnership in Haiti. Following the morning worship service, the congregation gathered in their fellowship hall over a shared meal. It was heartwarming to hear the stories of life change as we shared around the table. Pastor Gary and Karen Bingham have faithfully served this community of faith for 30 years, beginning in 1992. Congratulations on this milestone in ministry!
Sunday evening, I was able to join Rev. Angela Spangler, Executive Director, and her team at Fairmount Camp for the closing service of the Old Time Camp Meeting. Dr. Stewart brought a closing challenge on finishing strong with insights from the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy. I heard good reports from the services they held this past week.
We began the second week of the 21 Days of Prayer focus across our district team and I was able to drop in at The River on Monday morning and heard Amonte King bring the devotional to begin their hour of prayer. Thank you to our pastors who are leading our churches in making prayer a priority!
Following the prayer time, I joined Pastor Matthew Trexler in the leadership cohort that he leads with area pastors. This is one of several cohorts that are meeting across our district this year. There’s still time to join the Dirt Roads Network cohort led by Steve McVey and a few slots are remaining for the Groundswell Disciple-Making cohort lead by Jon Wiest. Pastors received details directly on how to sign up and they can call our office for additional information.
Our district office staff met on Monday afternoon to wrap up last edits on the district conference journal and to coordinate on upcoming district events including the Celebration of Holiness and the free course on Wesleyan Church History and Discipline for ministerial students.
Tuesday, I was on the road to connect with Pastor Michael Hewitt in Muncie. Pastor Mike and Kim along with their amazing children moved to Muncie in 2017 and launched Rising Hope Church in 2018. We’re praising God with them for the impact of this new church. They average 107 in worship last year and are getting ready to launch a second service this year to accommodate the growth that they’re anticipating. One of the goals of this new church was to make inroads at Ball State University and they’re seeing more students coming each fall. In addition to their ministry in Muncie, Rising Hope has a growing partnership with a church planter in Spain and Rev. Hewitt will be visiting him later this fall. Pastor Mike is also our district champion for church multiplication. If you know of potential church planting opportunities or church planter candidates, we’d be glad to connect them with Pastor Hewitt.
I was on the road for coaching conversations with pastors on Wednesday. My first stop was with Rev. Theo Griffin (Brown’s Chapel Wesleyan Church) in Greenfield. In addition to leading the church well, Pastor Theo is on the final section of completing his Doctor of Ministry degree with Wesley Seminary,
Rev. Joe Jackson and I met over lunch in Anderson and then toured two locations where United Wesleyan Church is expanding their ministry impact this fall. My final stop of the day was with Pastor David Shafer at North Anderson Wesleyan Church. Rev. Shafer is another of our effective bi-vocational pastors who make a difference both in the marketplace and in their local church ministry.
Thursday morning, I traveled to Delphi to meet with Rev. Dan Fisher for our annual coaching conversation. Delphi Wesleyan has grown by 50% in the past 6 months and Pastor Dan points to focused prayer as the key. The adult Sunday School class, now called “Doctrine and Donuts,” has grown from 8 to more than 30. Dan is another bi-vocational pastor who drives a bus for the local school system. His ministry in the marketplace has included praying with his boss to receive Christ and having other bus drivers becoming part of the congregation.
Thursday evening, I was able to attend the Old Time Camp Meeting at Fairmount Camp. Dr. Matthew Stewart preached on the theme of finishing strong and Rev. Ken Dykhoff led the singing. It was good to see familiar faces like Dr. Bud Bence and Dr. Howard Castle in attendance.
I had the joy of connecting with Rev. Aldean and Jesse Pablo over lunch in Roanoke on Friday. I’m grateful for the way they are leading ARISE, our newest church in the Fort Wayne area. The church just completed paving their parking lot in preparation for the fall season of ministry. Please keep the Pablo’s and their team in your prayers as they reach out to southwest Allen County.
Saturday morning, I was blessed to close out the week by joining Dr. Chris Williams and the team at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan Church for their prayer gathering. It was encouraging to hear Dr. Williams share some of the stories of answered prayer that they are seeing at Lakeview!
You know that we love to share the stories of God on the move across our district team and one of the best evidences of God’s grace is found in the baptism of new believers. We’re rejoicing with Rev. Dan Van Cise and the Marion West 8th Street Wesleyan Church as they welcomed 3 new members and baptized 1 new believer last week!
Rev. Ryan Budde and the team at Westview Wesleyan Church in Jonesboro celebrated 4 baptisms yesterday morning, including testimonies of people impacted through their Celebrate Recovery ministry.
And Pastor Trexler and The River Church (Marion campus) celebrated baptisms again on Sunday for the fifth week in a row. Praise the Lord for every life #MadeNew! I encourage every church in our district to schedule at least one baptism service before Thanksgiving and then another by Easter. God is on the move as we step out in obedience to make disciples!
Please make plans to join us next month for our Celebration of Holiness featuring Dr. Chris Bounds, Dr. Jonathan Morgan, Dr Steve DeNeff, Dr. Jim Lo, Rev. Carla Working, and Dr. Chris Williams. This one-day Crossroads District event is hosted at College Wesleyan Church and is co-sponsored by Wesley Seminary. The cost is $20 which includes your lunch and a copy of Dr. Kevin Watson’s new book, Perfect Love. This event is open to pastors, lay leaders, and students. Here’s the link:
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. – Fairmount Camp is hosting their 50th Annual Marriage Retreat on September 9-11. For more details and registration, here’s the link: