Sunday morning, December 4, Sherry and I worshiped with Rev. Michael Gallant and Community Life Church in Mt. Etna, the newest addition to the Crossroads District team. Mt. Etna is one of the 100+ UMC churches that have disaffiliated from their denomination in the past few months over issues of sexual ethics and biblical authority. As the congregation prayed and deliberated on their way forward, they determined that joining The Wesleyan Church was their best option. In getting to know the congregation, I discovered that several members of the congregation had Wesleyan roots or previous connections with Indiana Wesleyan University.
The Crossroads DBA received their application and authorized the establishment of this new Wesleyan congregation pending final disposition of their disaffiliation request. That process was completed on November 19 when they were released by the UMC bishop and conference. More than 30 members joined The Wesleyan Church so they begin as an established church with full conference rights. Rev. Michael Gallant, their pastor, holds Wesleyan ordination credentials with the Penn-York District and is transferring into our district. I first met Pastor Mike when he was completing his M.Div. at Wesley Seminary. Some of you may know Samantha Freds, assistant pastor at our Pathway Church in Warsaw, who is Pastor Mike and Lee’s daughter. Please join me in welcoming these new members and praying for God’s blessing on this new chapter in their ministry to Huntington County.
Sunday afternoon, I was at College Wesleyan Church in Marion for the funeral of Mrs. June Luttrull, wife of Rev. Jim Luttrull. Dr. Steve DeNeff shared a meaningful message drawn from the resurrection of Tabitha. Rev. and Mrs. Luttrull celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year and shared a lifetime of ministry between Indiana Wesleyan University and their service in local churches.
Sunday evening, Rev. Josh Bowlin and the team at Marion Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church graciously welcomed us for the last monthly district prayer gathering for 2022. Thank you to Rev. Bowlin and his team for hosting us and to Dr. Chris Williams, Rev. Mark Atkinson, Rev. Gary Bingham, and Rev. Brian Williams for leading this prayer service.
Rev. Carla Working (Assistant DS), Michael Wood (Communications Director), and I were on the road last week hosting Christmas fellowship gatherings for pastors and their spouses. Our first Christmas dinner was with pastors in the greater Indianapolis area. This gathering was hosted by Pastor Scott Rhyno’s team at Waterline Church in Fishers (Monday).
Tuesday evening, Dr. Oliver Dongell and his team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church were our hosts for the greater South Bend area group. Dr. Dongell does a great job of welcoming and supporting area pastors.
Our third Christmas fellowship dinner last week was graciously hosted by Dr. Steve DeNeff's team at College Wesleyan Church in Marion. We’re looking forward to seeing three more groups this week with a Monday night group at Lifeway Church in Fort Wayne, a Tuesday night group at LifeSpring in Richmond, and our final group on Thursday evening in Lafayette.
Pastor Mike Colaw (Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church) and his father, Joe Colaw (pastor of Bartlesville First Wesleyan Church), were hosted by Joel Hunt and Wesley Seminary for a webinar on lasting 40+ years in pastoral ministry. This was the second webinar on this topic that Joel, who is also a lay member of our DBA, has hosted with the Colaws. There was great content and chemistry. You can still view the replay at this site:
Wednesday, I traveled to Indianapolis to sign legal documents for the district and then met with Rev. John Miller, pastor of Way City Church, in Speedway for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor John and Heather stepped out in faith to plant this new church just months before we were hit with the pandemic. My last stop on Wednesday was in Upland to meet with Dr. Bob Hallett, founder of TLC Stewardship Ministry, to learn more about his new initiative in serving as a shepherd to shepherds.
Our Crossroads District Board of Administration met on Thursday afternoon at College Wesleyan Church for our second quarterly meeting of the conference year. We worked through a full agenda including updates from Rising Hope and ONE Church, our church planting projects in Muncie and Westfield. ONE Church received approval for a 3-year partnership with the YMCA in Westfield that will allow their ministry to relocate into the new facility that the Y is developing in Grand Park beginning in the fall of 2024.
The board reviewed financial and ministry reports. There was also a brief discussion about the changes for our local churches arising from the recent general conference. The new Discipline has been published electronically and is now in effect. The first change that many churches will notice is that the next vote they take on their pastor will be for an extended call. There are also changes in the LBA’s responsibilities, including the provision for quarterly meetings and electing the nominating committee.
I am grateful for our wonderful district board members, lay leaders and pastors, who generously invest their time and wisdom to provide mutual accountability and direction for our district ministry.
The Region 1 Board of Ministerial Development met in Marion on Saturday morning under the leadership of Rev. Bob Burchell. I dropped in to thank these faithful team members for their dedicated service to our ministerial students who are answering God’s call to a life of Christian service.
My final stop on Saturday was to check in with Rev. Angela Spangler and her team at Fairmount Camp as they hosted a winter craft market. They were off to a strong start at this first-time event. I appreciate the passion and creativity that Angela brings to her role as Executive Director of this camping ministry.
We love hearing stories of life change and Kingdom advance. We’re rejoicing with Dr. Steve DeNeff and the team at College Wesleyan as they celebrated 8 baptisms in the month of November!
We’re also praising the Lord with Dr. Matthew Stewart and his team as they celebrated four baptisms and six new members at Sweetser Wesleyan Church yesterday morning. Thank God for lives being #MadeNew by the Gospel!
Pastors, you along with your team are invited to attend our spring Next Level workshop, an intentional training and planning day designed for pastors and a core team of 2-6 lay leaders. This training focuses on empowering church health and effectiveness by engaging with essential growth engines. Each church will be trained in five key growth engines and will receive coaching for six months following the training day to develop customized action plans for your local church. There are still a few spots available, so don’t delay in signing up! You may register your team by visiting:
Our prayers and condolences are extended to the friends and family of Rev. Curtis William Peacock, a retired minister in the Crossroads District, who went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. Rev. Curtis served as a minister for many congregations including the Tyner Wesleyan Church for twelve years before making Plymouth Wesleyan home. His grandson, Rev. Sam Maddox, Jr., currently pastors the Albion Wesleyan Church.
Visitation will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday, December 9, 2022, at Plymouth Wesleyan Church (11203 Michigan Rd, Plymouth, IN 46563). A funeral service will immediately follow the visitation at 1:00 p.m. at the church with Rev. Ed Friberg officiating.
Thank you for all you do to advance God’s Kingdom in this Advent season!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. Save the date of February 17 and plan to join us for the 2023 Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter!