With the close of our 2022 annual conference, Wesleyans in Indiana officially begin their 175th year of connectional ministry. Wesleyan congregations in Fountain City (Richmond LifeSpring), New Castle (Mt. Zion Wesleyan), and Westfield had already started worshiping together and acting against slavery in 1843, the same year as the organizing conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America met in Utica, New York (May 31 to June 8, 1843).
The Indiana Conference was established by the second General Conference meeting in 1848, just five years later, with two districts (Fountain City and Westfield) and Rev. Daniel Worth serving as Conference President. The following year, the Indiana Conference gathered in Westfield (October 3-6, 1849) to review the work of God in their mission field. Ten circuits were reported with 18 elders (ordained ministers), 22 licensed ministers, and 1167 members. Today, we stand on their shoulders as we move into our 180th year of connectional ministry with confidence that God is still moving!
Our largest group of candidates (16) was ordained on Friday evening, June 24, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent, presiding. In addition to these 16 ordinands, we also welcomed Rev. Steve Russell and Rev. Jerome Bell as ordained ministers transferring into The Wesleyan Church. Special thanks to Dr. Chris Williams and Rev. Carla Working, District Board of Ministerial Development chair and vice-chair, for their exceptional leadership in preparing these ordinands and conducting this meaningful service. The service concluded with all the ordained ministers of the Crossroads District gathering around those newly ordained ministers and their spouses for a collective blessing led by Dr. Jim Lo. A delightful reception followed with delicious refreshments provided by Velvet Haisley, our favorite caterer.
Dr. Wayne Schmidt convened the 2022 District Conference at the IWU Chapel at 9 a.m on Saturday morning, June 25. Over 350 voting delegates registered for this important time of deliberation and vision casting. The delegates considered a number of items including electing district board members and extending the call of the district superintendent. General Conference memorials were received and approved by more than the required 2/3 of votes cast.
Memorial #52 (Gifts of the Spirit) is a constitutional matter and still has a long journey ahead. If passed by the required 2/3 aggregate of all the delegates voting in the district conferences this summer, it will next go to the Board of the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church for referral to the other two General Conferences (Caribbean and Philippines) for their concurring vote. This is because our proposed change to the articles of religion would be in conflict with the Essentials of the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church (see Discipline 6725:3(c)). Only after this approval process is complete would Memorial #52 become effective for Wesleyan churches in North America. (Discipline 6745:8) Pray that God will grant wisdom and unity through this process.
Other highlights of our conference included the ministry statistical report that showed an increase of 23% in both baptisms and worship attendance along with a 47% increase in professions of faith. Our treasurer provided an encouraging financial report with churches contributing 97% of the USF assessment. That will enable us to transfer an ending balance of $69k from the General Operations Fund to the Thrive Fund. In turn, the Thrive Fund will work with Wesleyan HQ’s TFI program to provide scholarships for pastors to attend The Gathering of The Wesleyan Church in Orlando, January 4-7, 2023. When the local church approves $250, the district Thrive Fund will match that with $500, and the denomination will match that with another $250 to help our pastors and their spouses participate in this national event. Thank you to every leader who makes the United Stewardship Fund a priority investment for your congregation!
Rev. Carol Schenck stepped down from being District Secretary since the Crossroads merger in 2016. We are deeply grateful for her excellent and dedicated service. Carol will continue to co-pastor Circle of Hope with Dr. Rich Schenck. Rev. Craig Thurman was elected by the conference to succeed her as our new District Secretary. Other newly-elected DBA members include Dr. Steve Bray (LifeSpring), Rev. Michelle Henry (Brookhaven), Rev. Neftali Lopez (Carmel Amistad), Mrs. Cindy Horn (Eastview) and Mrs. Reva Hoover Schultz (Indianapolis Trinity).
We recognized our three Assistant District Superintendents, Rev. Michael Colaw, Rev. Matthew Trexler, and Dr. Chris Williams, who have all served us so well in this role for the past six years. Dr. Chris Williams, Assistant DS, was named vice-chair of the District Board and will continue to lead the DBMD with Rev. Carla Working. Rev. Michael Colaw has agreed to serve as our Crossroads District representative on the Indiana Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and Rev. Matthew Trexler was appointed district treasurer by the DBA.
We also recognized our district’s Circuit Riders: Dr. Jim Lo, Dr. David Smith, and Rev. Mark Atkinson, our newest addition to the team. These ministers represent the Crossroads District in our churches serving as catalysts for revival and encouraging our pastors. Mr. Duffy Smith, a valued coach and mentor to a dozen of our pastors, was affirmed as an honorary Crossroads District Circuit Ride. We thank God for the investment these leaders are making in our district team.
June 24 was a historic day for our country. Since Roe v. Wade was enacted in 1973, unrestricted abortion had been the law of the land. The Supreme Court ruling of June 24 was that states must be free to make that determination since the United States Constitution does not. After the abortion of more than 60 million innocent pre-born children and 5 decades of prayer, the tide had turned. No longer will the USA be on the very short list with North Korea and China of countries with unrestricted, including full-term, abortions. The work of the pro-life movement is not just legal but also an ongoing ministry of compassion and care. With that historic decision in view, the conference received and unanimously approved a motion supporting a $10,000 contribution to Hephzibah62:4 Ministries. We encourage your church to rise to this challenge.
With thanksgiving to God for answered prayer in the ruling of the Supreme Court of The United States that overturned Roe V. Wade, a historic decision that will save so many precious unborn children: I move that the District Conference empower the District Board of Administration to immediately donate $10,000 to Hephzibah62:4 Ministries and that we challenge all the churches of the Crossroads District to rise to this opportunity to amplify our ministry and care for vulnerable mothers and children.
Your church can rise to this challenge by supporting Hephzibah, your local crisis pregnancy center, or through other unique ministries that God has raised up in your church’s community. What we cannot do is nothing. God has answered prayer. We have this window of opportunity to advance a culture of life-giving hope and support to replace what Mother Teresa called a “culture of death.” Here is one of her more convicting quotes:
Conference concluded with our 1-2-3 challenge. We are challenging every pastor and church leadership team to identify, pray for, and invest in 1 more place to go and 2 new leaders to grow over the next 3 years. We still have 3 million unreached people in the state of Indiana so we must answer God’s call to go and make disciples!
Thank you to Rev. Carla Working, Dr. Chris Williams, Michael Wood, Rev. Chip Bos, Rev. Jarod and Mrs. Kayla Webb, Rev. Jeff Brady Rev. Lane Sander, and the dozens of volunteers who made our conference such a success. We also want to thank College Wesleyan Church and Indiana Wesleyan University for hosting us this year. And thanks be to God for the wonderful work He is doing among us.
Sunday, June 26, Rev. Lyle and Pat Breeding welcomed me to Bluffton Sonlight Church. This church is on the move with community engagement, a thriving counseling center (led by Rev. Lane Sander), and a reignited prayer ministry that is making a difference. Last year they celebrated 16 professions of faith and 8 baptisms. It was a delight to worship with Pastor Lyle and his team and to catch a glimpse of all that God is doing them to bless their community!
I love receiving and sharing reports of baptisms from across our district team. Last week, Pastor Scott McDermid and Six Points Church celebrated three professions of faith and three baptisms!
Dr. Joe Harmon and the team at New Castle Memorial Drive Wesleyan Church are also celebrating five lives #MadeNew by the Gospel! Praise God for the wonderful ways He is at work in our churches!
Our sympathies and prayers are extended to Dr. H.C. Wilson, retired General Superintendent, on the passing of Gloria, his beloved wife and ministry partner for more than 56 years. The celebration of life service will be held at Beulah Camp in New Brunswick, Canada on July 6. The Wilsons lived in Indianapolis for several years during Dr. Wilson’s service at Wesleyan Headquarters. The photo below includes their daughter, Kristi, and their son, Troy. Memorial gifts may be directed to World Hope Canada or to Beulah Camp.
Keeping on shining the Lord (John 1:5) and making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent