I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Don Bayne and the team at New Carlisle Wesleyan Church in both of their morning worship services. Pastor Don has been leading the church through a sermon series on “The Life and Times of Jesus Christ.” New Carlisle is one of our churches that has embraced the challenge of change to more effectively reach their community for Christ. Today was Friend Day and guests were registered in a drawing for University of Notre Dame football tickets.
After bringing greetings in both services and connecting with board members, I made it over to South Bend in time to join Pastor Terry and Lennaire Vaughn at “The Bridge Urban Church.” In spite of the bad weather, they had 43 in attendance including 8 teenagers, 11 children and 2 first-time guests. They have amazing creative talent for a young church and a launch team that is committed to the vision. Plans are coming together for their launching event called “Love Our City.” Pastor Troy Evans and the team from “The Edge” in Grand Rapids, Michigan are coming in to help with this outreach event on May 25. Continue to pray for the Vaughn’s and this strategic church plant.
My final stop of the day was in Elkhart at Cielos Abiertos Iglesia Wesleyana, our Hispanic ministry led by Rev. Jose Eliorgy Guerrero. I appreciated the spirit in the service and the meaningful prayer time they shared. After the service, Rev. Frank Gonzalez, pastor of Vida y Esperanza in Goshen, joined us for a planning meeting. Both churches are planning baptisms for Easter Sunday and Pastor Gonzalez has 35 members ready to join the Wesleyan Church. We’re planning on an evening rally for June 9 when both churches will come together for a celebration of ministry partnership.
After a restful Sabbath on Monday, I was refreshed to hit the road again on Tuesday beginning in Marion with our staff meeting, then a budget meeting, and interviewing a prospective candidate for one of our churches. I met with Pastor David Cox (Laketon Wesleyan) in Warsaw for our annual coaching conversation. Suzanne, David’s wife and ministry partner, was able to join us. I’m grateful for these bi-vocational leaders who are making a big difference in a small community.
My next stop was at Beaver Creek Wesleyan Church (just outside South Bend) as they commence their search for a bi-vocational pastor. Following the LBA meeting, I met with Rev. Steve Runyon who has been serving effectively as their supply pastor. This was my final coaching conversation with Pastor Steve before he and Nancy move to Michigan to build their retirement home. The church has been making a comeback under Pastor Steve’s leadership, doubling in attendance over the past 3 years. Pray that God will direct the search process at Beaver Creek and provide the pastor to build on this progress.
Wednesday morning, I met with Pastor Johnnie Blair (Tipton Trinity) for our annual conversation. The ministry of Tipton Trinity is expanding with the addition of the Kokomo Trinity Wesleyan as a part of their network. They’re in the middle of renovations in Kokomo, so Pastor Blair and I dropped in to check on the progress. My next appointment was with a prospective candidate for another one of our churches. I’m grateful for the leaders who are joining the Crossroads District team in our mission.
My final appointment on Wednesday was in Frankfort with Rev. Harold Henson, pastor at Colfax Wesleyan Church. Angie, his wife and ministry partner, was able to join us for this coaching conversation. It’s been a busy first year for the Henson’s as Harold graduated from Wesley Seminary with his M.Div last April, began serving at Colfax Wesleyan last summer, and they’ve just recently moved into their new home.
The highlight of Thursday was the Conference Action Committee meeting. Our team engaged in meaningful and productive dialogue. They recommended four action items. Copies of these recommendations will be forwarded to our delegates on May 23 for their consideration at district conference, on June 22.
Assistant DS Chris Williams and I met on Friday morning for review and planning and then I met with Seth Bye, our Executive Ministry Partner in the afternoon. Pastor Matthew Trexler, Assistant DS for Region 1 and Vice-Chair of the District Board of Administration, met over lunch for my annual performance review. (Thank you to each pastor who took time to respond to this helpful feedback opportunity.)
Also on Friday, the Heartland Region superintendents and staff met via ZOOM to continue the planning for the 2020 Heartland Regional Gathering in Pigeon Forge (March 10-12). Registration will open up on August 1 and the early bird fee will be only $300 for a couple. This event will also include a programming track for children. Hold the date on your calendar and stay tuned for more details at district conference.
Friday evening, Sherry and I hosted pastors and spouses from the Madison County Zone. Two of these four pastoral couples are new in their roles so it was good to share this time of fellowship, laughter and prayer with these colleagues in ministry.
Saturday was a special time for our Crossroads District team as Dr. Jim Lo and our intercession team welcomed pastors and lay leaders to our inaugural prayer retreat. We shared in a concert of prayer for the first hour and then moved into more specific areas of intercession in the second hour, including anointing with oil for special requests. The dominant theme of our prayer time was the Easter weekend opportunity for evangelism.
We also discussed developing prayer gatherings in each of our regions from 2 or more times each year and the opportunity to take a busload of leaders to Brooklyn Tabernacle this fall for their Tuesday evening prayer gathering (you can learn more about that by reading Rev. Jim Cymbala’s book “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.”) Thank you to Dr. Lo and his leadership team and to Mrs. Angela Spangler and her team at Fairmount Camp who were gracious hosts for this gathering.
Please send praise reports and pictures from your Easter outreach ministry to our office email address so that Rev. Chris Williams can share these celebration notes in the team updates that he’ll be writing while I’m away on vacation. (Please see the note below.)
Thank you for answering God’s call to advance His Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
SPECIAL NOTE FOR CROSSROADS DISTRICT LEADERS:
Sherry and I will be away celebrating our 35th anniversary, departing on Tuesday, April 16, and returning on Sunday, May 5. We will be turning off our phones for the duration and will have only intermittent access to our email. We are looking forward to this vacation break and are taking seriously the advice of those who encouraged us to totally unplug. Rev. Trexler will be chairing the DBA in my absence and Rev. Chris Williams will be leading the district office team over the next 3 weeks while I’m out of the country. I’m confident that our district staff will serve you with excellence in our absence. Thank you in advance for completing your year-end reports on time!