Sherry and I had the privilege of joining Pastor David and Suzanne Cox yesterday morning for worship at Laketon Wesleyan Church. Established in 1903, Laketon Wesleyan, another of our small rural churches, is located in a community with 97 homes. Led by Pastor Dave, another of our faithful, bi-vocational ministers, the congregation is reaching out to their families, neighbors and friends. David stepped in to “temporarily supply the pulpit” in 2014 and has been there ever since.
Pastor David and Suzanne commute from Warsaw, where they live and work, but they have seen the church rebound from worship attendance of 19 in 2014 to averaging close to 40. They now have a vibrant children’s ministry on Wednesdays, led by Assistant Pastor Josh Warren, and have recently added on to the building providing a nursery, two bathrooms and an office on the main level. Last year they recorded 6 professions of faith and celebrated 2 baptisms. We’re excited about the future for Laketon Wesleyan as they work together to share God’s love in their community.
Sunday evening, I joined with Lead Pastor John Freed and the team from Waterline Church as hosted a vision-casting gathering for their new campus launching this spring in Pendleton with Rev. Joe Deckard serving as campus pastor. It was wonderful to hear how God has been raising up key ministry leaders (worship, children, tech) to join this launch team. I also heard encouraging stories that God has already been opening hearts and providing pathways into the community.
Last Monday, I had the opportunity to connect with pastors in the Fort Wayne area. I met with Pastor Aaron Lee (LaOtto Cultivate Church) and Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Church) over lunch, then met with Pastor Heath Croft (Level 13) before having coffee with Pastor Dave Dignal (Edgerton). Pastor Rick Fletcher had invited me to share the Christmas meal with LifeWay Church’s Local Board of Administration. LifeWay is experiencing a wonderful season of growth, averaging 250 over the last few weeks.
Tuesday morning, I met with our district staff before heading back to Fort Wayne for the 25k service on our district vehicle. I was able to make good use of the downtime catching up on phone calls and reading a book called “Reinforcements.” The book explores the research that reveals how people are more willing to help us then we are to ask them.
Wednesday morning, I dropped in at Lapel Daybreak Church to check on Pastor Andy Cole. Elicia is getting the family settled in while Andy is mobilizing volunteers to complete some needed construction projects at the church. I met with Pastors Rochelle and Travis Jenkins for lunch in Irvington before visiting their ministry location in the Little Flowers neighborhood. They’re making in progress launching their house church network by building relationships with coworkers and neighbors. One of their friends even gifted them with a donation to purchase coffee branded mugs to use in spreading the word about Circle City Wesleyan Church. It has been a joy to welcome Rochelle and Travis to the Crossroads District team this year.
My final meeting in the city was with Pastor John Miller. He and Heather are building the launch team for Way City Church to be launched this next year in Speedway. They faced a real challenge finding a meeting space in which they could hold their public worship services. After many closed doors, Pastor John was excited to show me around in “The Factory” a state of the art fitness center on right at the Speedway exit off I-465. You may not tell from this picture but John is just a little bit excited about this answer to prayer!
Thursday morning, I joined Dr. Richard and Pastor Carol Schenck at Circle of Hope’s Noblesville campus for a conversation with another prospective partner church for their growing network. This past weekend, between the 35 in their Dhaka campus and the 4 sites in Indiana, 288 people worshiped as part of the Circle of Hope network.
Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege of convening our quarterly meeting of the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church. We had a wonderful team of representatives, lay leaders and clergy, from larger churches of 1000 in attendance to a house church with 3 families, from congregations 175-years-old to ministries that are just being launched, from single-site congregations in the core city to multi-site networks that span the globe. In addition to the accountability steps of policy compliance and financial reporting, we engaged in strategic conversations about leadership development and funding strategies for launching ministries in new zip codes.
Two of the highlights of our meeting was hearing an update from Pastor Mike Hewitt about Rising Hope, our newest church in Muncie, and hearing an update from Dr. David Drury about the house church network that he and Kathy are launching Fishers. Following this productive meeting, we gathered with G.S. Dr. Wayne and Jan Schmidt to share in a delightful Christmas meal. The DBA presented Jan with a lovely Christmas basket and we added to Dr. Schmidt’s collection of novelty socks. (The picture below is from his public Facebook page so I can share it with you.)
Friday morning, Assistant DS Chris WIlliams and I met at Abbey Coffee for planning and to handle follow-up items from the DBA. Friday evening, Sherry and I were honored to host Pastor Mark & Ronda Atkinson, Pastor Brent & Naomi Miller, Pastor Tom & Kara Parsons, and Pastor Ryan & Rachel Budde for their zone’s fellowship gathering at Thornapple. These evenings are a blessing to us and we hope these times are encouraging to our team members. We received a text on Saturday morning from one couple who wrote, “We sure had a great time. Thank you for your incredible hospitality. Definitely was an aura of love in the house.” Special thanks to Sherry, my amazing wife, who goes the second mile to make these evenings possible.
Saturday, I was able to drop in on amazing community outreach called “The Big Give” that River Church hosted in Marion. We join them in praising God for more than 1000 Christmas boxes donated, more than 3000 attendees, and more than 200 decisions for Christ. Saturday evening, I joined with Pastor Clifton Ashlock at United Wesleyan Church in Anderson in their Spanish-language evening service as they hosted Rev. Dr. Diego Chuyma as their guest speaker for the weekend. Dr. Chuyma holds a D.Min from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves cross-culturally as a church planter and theological educator in Bolivia. We’re praying with Anderson United Wesleyan as they move through this year of leadership transition.
Just a reminder that it’s not too late to register for the Gathering! We’d love to have you join our team in Orlando next month (January 9-11) and, at last word, there are still district matching funds available. Link to the Gathering info
Our office will be closed next week but I will still be available to our district pastors, as needed, by phone or email. This will be our last weekly team update of the 2018 calendar year so, on behalf of our Crossroads District team, please know that our prayers are for you, your family, and your congregation to have a blessed Christmas celebration and all the best that God promises in the new year!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent