Sherry and I joined the Miami community yesterday morning for the retirement celebration of Rev. Marvin & Mary Lamb and the closing service of the Miami Wesleyan Church. Both of the other churches in the community, United Methodist and Praise Fellowship, cancelled their own services and came together on this special occasion to honor Pastor Lamb. Rev. Lamb has served most of the last 3 decades of his 46 years of ministry as bi-vocational pastor for this congregation. (Note: We will be honoring our retiring ministers at the Crossroads District Ordination Service, College Wesleyan Church, Marion, on Friday evening, June 22.)
This was also a celebration of the contribution this congregation has made to the town over the 130 years since it was organized as a community church back in 1888. In 1913, the congregation affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodists. The congregation was down to just a faithful few in recent years (averaging 9 in worship) but wonderful testimonies were shared of the impact the church has had over the generations. Although this was the final service of the Wesleyan congregation, the church building will continue to be open to serve the community as Praise Fellowship begins holding worship services there this Sunday. Dr. Marcel Lamb, son of Rev Marvin Lamb, brought an encouraging message from God’s Word and then Rev. Marvin Lamb concluded the service by leading us in the Lord’s Supper.
Last week’s ministry schedule was abbreviated with Memorial Day and our travel back from our son’s wedding in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes. There was a beautiful sense of God’s presence as Joel and Christie made their vows to God and to each other. We were blessed to have all of our children present for this special occasion along with my brother, my older sister, and my father. Joel and Christie are settling into their apartment this week outside of Grand Rapids, MI where Joel serves on staff at Journey Wesleyan Church in Caledonia.
Thursday morning, I met with the district conference planning team, then connected with Dr. David Smith, Chris Williams and Seth Bye over lunch for planning the DMBD retreat coming up later this summer. Thursday afternoon, I met with Pastor Michael Hewitt in Muncie for an update on the progress at Rising Hope Church, and then closed out the day meeting with Rev. David Hines and Steve Matthews, our district’s global missions leaders, to review plans for the coming year in our partnerships with the growing Wesleyan churches in Mozambique and Bangladesh.
Friday morning, I was back in my office to catch up on e-mail and phone calls before heading to Wabash for an afternoon meeting with Pastor Rick Fletcher and Assistant Pastor Andy Jellison (Fort Wayne Lifeway Church) and Rev. Zach Szmara (pastor at The Bridge in Logansport), in his role as Immigrant Connection Director. We are grateful for Zach’s leadership to our district as we navigate the process of receiving international pastors to help us reach the increasingly multi-ethnic mosaic of Indiana.
Saturday, I traveled to Washington, Indiana, to represent our Crossroads District team at the funeral for Rev. O.W. Willis, father of our retired D.S. Rev. Dr. Aron Willis, and grandfather of Rev. Bill Thompson, pastor of our Anderson Lone Oak Wesleyan Church.
In addition to serving as DS for 21 years in the Indiana South District, Rev. O.W. Willis had a powerful evangelistic ministry preaching at least 9000 sermons in more than 1000 churches. Powerful testimonies were shared of the impact of this life well-lived for God. Dr. Aron Willis preached a wonderful message drawn from the life of Philip, the evangelist of Acts, and Rev. Bill Thompson sang “When We Reached the Last Mile.” I hadn’t heard this song in many years but the lyrics seemed so appropriate to his life:
If I walk in the pathway of duty, If I work till the close of the day,
I shall see the great King in His beauty, When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way,
I will rest at the close of the day;
And I know there are joys that await me,
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
If for Christ I proclaim the glad story, If I seek for His sheep gone astray,
I am sure He will show me His glory, When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
And if here I have earnestly striven, And have tried all His will to obey,
’Twill enhance all the rapture of heaven, When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.
We thank God for the faithful legacy of His servant and extend our prayers and sympathies to the Willis family.
This weekend was also a significant milestone for many of our district’s pastoral families who celebrated high school graduations. Here is just a sampling of those celebrations:
Congratulations to all of our graduates and their families!
This is also a time of pastoral transitions across our district. Rev. Dr. Jim Lo and Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church are delighted to welcome Rev. Jeremy, Ana, and Adoline Armiger who are joining the pastoral team this week. Rev. Armiger has most recently pastored in Florida but we are glad he’s coming home to Indiana.
Dr. Lo will continue to provide point leadership and primary teaching responsibility with Pastor Jeremy assisting. Rev. Tim Witte has resigned as pastor for North Wabash Wesleyan Church and has accepted a new ministry position on staff at College Wesleyan Church. Rev. Mark Schnell has been serving Albion Wesleyan on an interim basis and has now agreed to candidate for a 1-year call this coming weekend. I’ll be meeting with the search committees at Sheridan Six Points and New Castle Memorial later this week so please continue to pray for our churches and our pastors in this season of transition.
Registration is now open for "The Gathering!" The Crossroads District Board of Administration has set aside funds to provide 50% scholarships for the first 100 pastors to register. This incentive is open first to solo/senior pastors through July 31. After July 31, the remaining scholarships will be available to all appointed ministers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent