Sunday morning, February 14, I joined interim pastor Rev. Jeff Brady and the team at Level 13 for worship. After the service, I led a brief congregational meeting to review progress and affirm new members for their leadership team. The church is regaining strength after an unexpected pastoral transition and the shared challenges of Covid-19.
Rev. Brady has been very helpful in providing preaching for Sundays and a shepherds heart for the team. Jeff has been leading them in the annual membership renewal affirmation with 31 people already joining or reaffirming membership. Pray with the leadership team at Level 13 as they move forward in their pastoral search process.
Sunday afternoon, I met with Dr. Oliver Dongell and the LBA at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. It was good to connect with this team and hear about recent praise points with new families becoming part of the congregation. Pastor Ollie has served the church effectively for the past 18 years and is embracing the challenge of relaunching the church this summer. Pastor Dongell set the stage for a productive conversation with the board on the importance of succession planning. The board voted unanimously to recommend a two-year call and to initiate a succession planning process.
Fishers Waterline Church celebrated their 10th anniversary on Sunday with founding pastors John and Danielle Freed returning as special guests. Interim pastor Rev. Scott Rhyno and the Waterline team put together a well-attended and very creative celebration of Waterline’s ministry for the past 10 years. Among the highlights reported were more than 40 people called to ministry, more than 400 decisions for Christ, and 173 baptisms in these first 10 years. John and Danielle are off to a great start in their new assignment of leading the church planting efforts for the Great Lakes District. The Freeds did an outstanding job at Waterline and we miss having them as part of our district team. Pray for Waterline as they continue the search for their next lead pastor.
Last week began with an annual check-up with my cardiologist on Monday morning. I’m thankful for another positive report and one less medication to take. Dr. Craig Dunn (CEO of Wesleyan Investment Foundation and Wesleyan Pension Fund) and I enjoyed catching up over lunch. He has a unique vantage point on the church in North America in his work with leading churches. I’m grateful for his deep commitment to the work of The Wesleyan Church and for his wise counsel.
Tuesday morning, I met with Pastor Mark Atkinson for an update on Ronda’s recovery and his ministry at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan. Rev. Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS, and I met in his office at The River Church to review the feedback from DBA members and lead pastors across the district as part of my annual DS evaluation. The full DBA will receive the report at this week’s meeting. Thank you to each one who took time to provide their input. Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
Tuesday evening, I met with Rev. Matthew Stewart and the LBA at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. Matthew is another of our faithful bi-vocational pastors. In addition to farming and teaching as an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, Pastor Matthew is also completing his PhD in organizational leadership. It was good to catch up with the Sweetser team and hear how God has been working even in the craziness of the past 12 months. The’ve added a new children’s ministry director (part-time) and are celebrating two decisions for Christ in this new year.
Wednesday, I was on the road to meet with Rev. Don Bayne (New Carlisle Wesleyan Church) for our annual coaching conversation. The church is making good progress including an innovative Christmas school break VBS serving up to 25 children and they have a baptism service scheduled for March 7. Dr. Oliver Dongell and I met on Wednesday afternoon at his office in Plymouth in preparation for the LBA meeting referenced earlier.
My last meeting on Wednesday was with Pastor Ben Jones and the LBA at Beaver Creek Wesleyan Church. This historic congregation is located near Potato Creek State Park, just east of North Liberty. Pastor Ben is completing his initial two-year call and the LBA was enthusiastic in their support for his upcoming four-year call. I’m grateful for Pastor Ben’s effective bi-vocational ministry!
Thursday morning, Rev. Aldean Pablo (Fort Wayne/Roanoke SEND Church) and I met via ZOOM for our annual coaching conversation. While a pandemic might not be the optimal time for church planting, Aldean has seen God open doors in unusual ways. An existing campus of a larger Fort Wayne church was given the opportunity to become part of the new church plant. With the blessing of the main campus, this campus voted 52-1 to join in as part of SEND Church. They are still working out the details but the plan is coming together for relaunching in a permanent facility at the beginning of the new school year. Pray for wisdom and unity!
Pastor Steve Arnett (New Castle Mount Zion) and I met in Muncie for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Steve has experienced God’s touch and recovered from significant health challenges in the past year. He is excited about the progress at the church, including a major remodel of their children’s ministry area. Pastor Steve has one of the most effective membership affirmation plans in our district so don’t hesitate to connect with him if you have questions.
My last meeting of the day was with Rev. Matthew Trexler (Region 1 – Fort Wayne and surrounding areas), Rev. Michael Colaw (Region 2 – Indy and surrounding areas), and Rev. Chris Williams (Region 3 – Lafayette and surrounding areas), who each serve as assistant district superintendents. We met in Kokomo for an encouraging time of collaboration. In addition to providing wise counsel for our team, each of these leaders intentionally invests in other leaders in their region. Another key contribution is the way they champion church planters and the new projects launching in their regions. We are better together!
We held our Crossroads District staff meeting in Marion on Friday morning at Abbey Coffee. After that helpful time with Seth, Carla and Woody, I drove down to Anderson to meet with a prospective pastoral recruit over lunch. Before the afternoon was over, I was also able to connect with Pastor Steve Binns (Anderson Lone Oak Wesleyan) for a ministry update. My last appointment of the day was a call with another pastoral prospect. God is raising up laborers for His harvest!
Saturday was a welcomed day of sabbath rest at our house.
Jessica Folz, our Crossroads District youth president, is inviting you to join her for FUEL, the annual Wesleyan training event for these key ministry leaders. This FREE event is being held this Saturday, Feb. 20, from 9 am-12:30, at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion. Please register today so they can make preparations for your participation. Here’s the link:
82 pastors have already completed initial applications for Rest Well! Don’t miss out on your opportunity for intentional renewal. The Crossroads District is providing up to 100 grants of $475 for a pastor and their spouse to invest in a retreat of two nights or more. Just complete the learning resources and planning tools we’ve provided to make this time as profitable as possible. When you complete your retreat, the Thrive Initiative has an additional $500 matching grant available with a second set of learning resources. If your church also agrees to participate in this initiative (i.e. paying down ministerial student loans, topping up retirement, fitness equipment), additional matching funds up to $500 are available. For more details, please follow this link:
We’re celebrating baptisms again with week! Pastor David Cox shared the good news of two more baptisms at Laketon Wesleyan Church this past Sunday. What a privilege to witness the joy of lives being #madenew by the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Please continue to pray for Pastor Dan Clark (Monon Wesleyan Church) and Mrs. Cheryl Laws (wife of Rev. Allen Laws, pastor of Warren Wesleyan) both of whom are fighting courageous battles with cancer. Cheryl was moved home from the hospital over the weekend and is now receiving hospice care.
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to Rev. Bob Burchell, (DBMD member and Director of Chaplain Ministries for IWU Global and National) on the passing of his mother, Mrs. Gloria Anderson on February 9. The family was able to gather for the memorial service that was conducted in Wisconsin on Saturday, February 13.
Our sympathies and prayers are also extended to retired General Superintendent Dr. Thomas Armiger, Jr. and to our own Rev. Jeremy Armiger (pastor of Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church) on the news that Mr. Thomas Armiger, Sr., Jeremy’s grandfather, died on Sunday, March 7. Dr. Armiger lived nearby his father in Kissimmee, Florida. Funeral arrangements will be made in the next few months with hopes that more family members will soon be able to gather in person.
We are also requesting prayer for Rev. Kaleb Wakeman, Pastor of Worship Arts at The River Church. Kaleb was hospitalized in Marion over the weekend and then was transferred to Indianapolis where he will be in surgery today.
Thank you for making a difference in the only cause that counts for all of eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent