Sunday morning, November 21, I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Don Bayne and his team at New Carlisle Wesleyan Church. Pastor Don has faithfully led the New Carlisle team since 1995!
Last year, the church averaged 90 in worship attendance with 10 professions of faith and 3 baptisms. Rev. Bayne brought the message from Luke 5 and I shared an update from our district team in both of the services. Following the services, Pastor Don, Karen, and Ty (their son) joined me for lunch. Commendations to Pastor Don and Assistant Pastor Seth Merrill for leading well through the pandemic.
The General Board (GB) of The Wesleyan Church met last week at the headquarters building in Fishers. I participated in the Executive Committee meeting on Monday evening and then in the regular sessions that ran all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, delivered his state of the church report. One of the highlights he shared was the increasing percentage of our congregations that are multiethnic. That percentage has grown from 7% in 1994 to 33% this last year. Dr. Schmidt also noted that more than 20% of our credentialed clergy are women. Shutdowns related to the pandemic impacted our churches with worship attendance declining across North America by 41% and baptisms declining by 33%.
For most of our time together, all of the district superintendents were invited to join the GB for a review and discussion of the many memorials (legislative resolutions) that are making their way toward General Conference 2022. It was helpful to have the depth of perspective that these district leaders brought to these conversations. The proposal on simplifying our governance structure at all levels generated less debate than had been anticipated. The proposal to revise the United Stewardship Fund contribution model generated a little more discussion. Overall, the spirit was good and there was unity about keeping the main thing the main thing.
Would you like to help General Conference 2022 (https://www.wesleyan.org/unleashed) become a time of celebration, not just decision-making? General Secretary Janelle Vernon (Executive Director of Communications and Administration Division) is extending an invitation for our churches to share ACTION photos and/or videos clips. Send in your photos and videos of people being baptized and outreach initiatives that show your church being the hands and feet of Jesus. We know that there are many creative and unique compassion ministries happening from clothing and food giveaways to providing after-school programs and recovery shelters. Thanks for submitting your short video clips and/or pictures by January 15, 2022, to:
Something powerful happens when our pastors pray together. Monday morning, before heading to the General Board meeting, I was blessed to sit in with the leadership cohort that Assistant DS Matthew Trexler leads in Region 1. These leaders encourage one another, learn together, hold one another accountable and, most importantly, pray for each other. If you’d like to take the initiative to gather a learning cohort with nearby pastors, we have resources to help you get started. We are better together.
Thursday, I was back on the road again to check in with Rev. Scott McDermid at Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church in the afternoon and then I closed out my day with Rev. Logan Patriquin and the LBA at The Branch Wesleyan Church in Lafayette. Due to quarantine, some of the LBA members joined us via Zoom. I am grateful for the amazing pastors and lay leaders with whom I am privileged to serve here in the Crossroads District.
Friday night was a delightful evening as about 100 Region 2 pastors and their spouses gathered in Fishers for a special “Thanks for Giving” fellowship hosted by Rev. Mike Colaw, Region 2 Assistant DS, and his team from Indianapolis Trinity. The meal was good, the entertainment was fun, but the best thing of all was being together as a team. Thank you to everyone (especially Barb Nichter) who made this such a wonderful event! Region 1 is hosting a Christmas brunch gathering for their pastors and spouses at The River Church in Marion on December 6, 10 am, and Region 3 is hosting a Christmas banquet for their pastors and spouses at Plymouth Wesleyan Church on December 4, 5 pm.
There is nothing more exciting than hearing stories of lives being changed by the Gospel! This week we're rejoicing with Pastor Zach Working and the team at Huntington Hope Rising celebrating 1, and with Rev. Lyle Breeding and the team at Bluffton Sonlight celebrating 2! Praise God for lives being #MadeNew!
Executive Director Zach Coffin has released the information for the upcoming FUEL 2022 training event for youth workers. This time the event is coming to Muncie so every youth worker and children’s pastor in our district will have the opportunity to participate. Rev. Jessica Folz, our Crossroads District Youth Ministry Champion, and Rev. Michele Henry, our District Children’s Ministry Champion, will be leading our team members to participate. Please pass along this link to your youth and children’s ministry team leaders so they can take advantage of this opportunity for training and encouragement:
There is still time to register for the Heartland Gathering on March 22-24, 2022 in Pigeon Forge, TN. Every local church received a scholarship for one pastoral couple to register and that amount can also be applied toward the THRIVE initiative. For the speaker lineup and more detailed information, please visit: https://gathering.heartlandregion.org
Our office will be closed for the Thanksgiving break but lead pastors can always reach me by text or calling my cellphone. May you and your loved ones have a blessed time of pausing to give thanks to God for all of His blessings to us!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent