Sunday, December 20, I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Thomas and Julie Beck at Larwill Wesleyan Church. Pastor Thomas has been serving LWC as a bi-vocational pastor since his initial appointment in 2000. Thomas and Julie are joined in this ministry by their son who runs the audio and their daughter who serves in the music ministry. Last conference year they averaged 25 in worship with 3 professions of faith. They have experienced the challenges of the pandemic but in-person ministry has continued through the year. I’m grateful for Pastor Beck and our many bi-vocational pastors who serve so faithfully and sacrificially.
Last Monday, I was in Fishers to meet with Rev. Jon Wiest who leads discipleship consulting with Groundswell. Jon does a great job helping pastors and their leadership teams across the country to develop personal disciple-making ministries. After my meeting with Jon, I had the joy of stopping by to visit with Dr. Ed Hoover and to wish him a “Happy 93rd Birthday” on behalf of our district family.
Dr. Hoover has the distinction of having served on the district boards of both Indiana Central and Indiana North and on the Indiana District Conference that preceded them. In addition to the many significant ways he has served in our denomination across the years, Dr. Hoover played a key role in the forming of the Crossroads District. He is a great example and encourager to many of us.
Monday evening, I joined the LAC (Local Advisory Committee) of Avon Nehemiah Church for a meeting via ZOOM. With the resignation of Pastor Ben Thomas, the church has been blessed by the interim ministry of Rev. Jim Bogear. Jim and Jerolyn Bogear have an expanding national ministry coaching leaders so I was grateful that Jim could make time to help us here. With the recommendation of Nehemiah Church’s LAC and the approval of our DBA, I have appointed Rev. Seth Bye to serve as supply pastor through the remainder of this conference. Seth will continue to serve on our district staff team but will be ministering at Nehemiah Church each weekend.
On Tuesday, our district office staff and their spouses joined Sherry and me for our Christmas staff appreciation luncheon in Kokomo. Even without the pandemic, it has been a year of significant transition with Rev. Chris Williams moving into the lead pastor role at Lakeview Wesleyan Church and Mrs. Roxene Lo retiring. In addition to Seth continuing in his role, Hannah Searcy Brown and Rev. Carla Working have joined the team. They have enjoyed getting to know our team and are both a blessing to work with in our district office.
Tuesday afternoon, I connected with Rev. David Kelly about the ministry of Well Springs of Freedom in their Marion office. I am pleased to announce that we will be partnering with Well Springs to offer free sessions of prayer-guided counseling with their team for 25 of our pastors in the new year. Well Springs has generously provided the first five sessions and the Crossroads District will cover the cost for the next twenty. Pastors, you can learn more about this ministry and schedule your appointment in the Marion office through their website:
Wednesday was a snow day but ZOOM made it possible to connect with Rev. Rochelle and Travis Jenkins for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Rochelle and Travis have been planting a house church called “Circle City Church” in the Irvington area of Indianapolis. Rochelle is also an RN so this has been an extremely challenging year.
The snow day also allowed me to jump in on the Exponential webinar that featured our own Dr. Ed Love with a panel of experts discussing what church planting will look like as we emerge on the other side of this pandemic. It was very encouraging to hear the many ways that God is working even now to launch new Kingdom communities.
I was back on the road Thursday for a lunch meeting with Rev. Clifton Ashlock in Anderson before heading on to Southview Wesleyan Church. Southview Wesleyan has been blessed by the ministry of Rev. Rick and Mary Matthews since 1983. With Rick’s coming retirement, the church is working through the pastoral search process for the first time in nearly four decades. The LBA is working prayerfully and diligently to prepare to launch their search process in January. Please join them in prayer for God’s direction in this important decision.
Pastor Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS for Region 1, had a minor surgery on Friday that interrupted his plans to deliver Christmas gifts to Region 1 pastors. I was glad to become Santa’s helper and had the privilege of delivering gifts for Rev. Jeff Brady (Commoners Church), Rev. Mark Schnell (Albion), Rev. Matthew Stewart (Sweetser), and Rev. Allen Laws (Warren). Many of you will know Cheryl Laws has been undergoing treatments for cancer. I was honored to represent our team in prayer with Pastor Allen and Cheryl. Please continue to keep Cheryl and Allen in your prayers.
My final stop of the day was with Rev. Paul Van Cise in Bryant. I was encouraged to hear how Bryant Wesleyan has been busy in the Christmas season. They helped a paraplegic neighbor with house repairs. They delivered gifts with fire trucks to the residents of County Home. Bryant Wesleyan also blessed an ALS patient in their town with a total of $17,000 contributed by the congregation and members of the community. I love hearing how God’s people are making a difference!
Saturday morning, I joined the LBA at Lancaster Wesleyan Church for their regular meeting and the opportunity to interview a prospective candidate for their church. In the next 10 years, we will have a significant generational shift in our district with approximately 50% of our pastors retiring. I am thankful that God is at work through our churches in raising up young leaders to carry the torch and expand the Kingdom!
I finished up the week by completing my rounds as Santa’s (Trexler’s) helper. On Saturday afternoon, I dropped off gifts with Rev. Zack Working (Huntington Hope Rising), Rev. Bob McHenry (Marion Nelson Street), Rev. Brian Williams (Simms), Rev. Shawnda Dykhoff (Marion Brinker Heights), and Rev. Ben Parker (Fairmount Back Creek).
On Sunday afternoon, it was great to connect with Rev. Jarod Osborne (Warsaw Pathway), Rev. Aaron Lee (LaOtto Cultivate), Rev. Dave Leitzel (Hamilton), Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers), Rev. David Dignal (Edgerton), Rev. Kory Christensen (New Haven Impact), Rev. Rick Fletcher (Fort Wayne Lifeway), Rev. Aldean Pablo (Roanoke SEND Church), and Rev. Lyle Breeding (Bluffton Sonlight). It was my first chance to see Rev. Fletcher since his hospitalization. I am grateful for answered prayers for Pastor Rick!
Our prayers and sympathies are extended to the family of Mrs. Della Yaryan, mother of Rev. Randy Yaryan who pastors our Winchester Wesleyan Church. Family visitation and celebration of life have been scheduled for next week. Here’s the link for complete information:
Here’s a special opportunity for our pastors and those who love them. Earlier this year, The Barna Group surveyed pastors and found that half (51%) admitted they were tired. In the week prior to the survey, 40% admitted that they had felt exhausted or sad. More than 65% of the pastors said they had felt overwhelmed regularly in that month.
I believe that God is powerfully working even as we move through this pandemic. There is a harvest coming and we must be prepared. To run hard, we need to rest well. The Crossroads District Board of Administration approved setting aside up to $50,000 for a “Rest Well Initiative” that we announced via email to our pastors on Saturday.
In summary, a pastor who successfully applies to the initiative can, after watching a video series on resting well, receive a grant of $475 for a minimum two-day renewal retreat with their spouse (if married). The goal is to come back with a plan for spiritual, emotional, and physical renewal in the coming year. Once the final video series is completed and the reflection report is submitted, the pastor will received a matching grant of $500 from our denomination’s THRIVE program to help fund that plan.
Local churches can also participate by assisting the pastor in this renewal project by investing up to $500 which will also be eligible for matching funds. With the district and local church each investing $500, the pastor would be eligible for a $1000 grant to be issued in June at our district conference. Church treasurers and the LBA vice chair of each church will receive the detailed information. Here’s the website link:
“But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” Isaiah 40:31
We are praying that our pastors will make time to get away and wait upon the Lord, so they can be renewed to lead us forward in these exciting days of Kingdom advance!
Special thanks to Rev. Seth Bye, our district THRIVE coordinator, and to Dr. Mark Rennaker and Rev. Johanna Rugh, denominational leaders for the THRIVE program, for their partnership in designing this “Rest Well Initiative.” We are also grateful to the Lilly Foundation for their generous investment in the well-being of our pastors.
Merry Christmas to you, your family, and your church!
Crossroads District Superintendent