Sunday, October 3, I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Matthew Trexler and The River Church congregation in each of their three morning worship services. In addition to powerful worship in song and a compelling message from Pastor Matthew, the church family celebrated four baptisms! After the last service, Sherry and I hosted the Trexlers for lunch. Last conference year, River Church led our district team with 58 professions of faith and 32 baptisms. Rev. Trexler also serves as our Assistant DS for Region 1 and in that capacity he hosts a leadership development cohort each month.
Pastor Matthew and their team have a heart for the least of these in Grant County, but they also have a vision for the world. This year, they are blessed to see one of their own members, who was saved through their ministry, answer the call to join the Global Partners team in the Czech Republic. Amanda Banter is stepping out in faith, supported by The River and several other district churches, for her first term of missionary service. Yesterday, Amanda was excited to share that her committed support is now over 93% and that her visa application has been approved. There is still time to join Amanda’s support team with your giving and prayers. https://www.globalpartnersonline.org/missionary/wm04-0433/
Last Monday, after sending off the Team Update, I was able to join Pastor Matthew and his leadership cohort in Marion over lunch. It was good to see how these pastors are encouraging and stretching each other to lead well in this challenging season of ministry.
Tuesday morning, Pastor Mike Colaw (Region 2 Assistant DS) and the team at Indianapolis Trinity welcomed Region 2 pastors for a leadership learning opportunity with Pastor Ken and Serena Murphy. Many of you will know Pastor Ken from his effective ministry leading Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. Ken and Serena shared helpful insights for ministry and marriage. Ken reminded us that the enemy of our souls often uses the tools of distraction and discouragement. He encouraged leaders to establish and protect healthy rhythms. They also stressed the importance of “…working together with one mind and purpose.” (Philippians 2:2 NLT)
I enjoyed the coaching conversations last week which now include both pastors and their key pastoral staff. Rev. Cathy Howie serves with Pastor Mike Colaw at Trinity Church and we met together on Tuesday afternoon. In addition to a variety of responsibilities at the central campus, Pastor Cathy is the point person for their campus in Garfield Park. On Wednesday morning, I met with Rev. Mike Schultz, leader of the East Fishers campus and then shared lunch with Rev. Jorge Escalante, leader of Trinity’s growing Hispanic ministries. My last coaching conversation on Wednesday was with Rev. Neftali Lopez. In addition to pastoring Carmel Amistad Iglesia Wesleyana, Neftali serves as a chaplain for IWU in Indianapolis and manages a restaurant in Fishers.
Thursday morning, I met with Pastor Kalina Carlson Smith who serves on staff with Rev. Kyle Horton at Fort Wayne Three Rivers Church. Kalina is in the final stages of ordination preparation and is having an effective ministry with youth and discipleship at Three Rivers. Pastor Andy Jellison and I met in New Haven for our coaching conversation. Rev. Rick Fletcher is edging toward retirement and passing the baton to Andy in their planned succession journey. If you’re considering retirement in the next few years, Rick and Andy can share some good insights from their process.
Friday, I was back in Indianapolis to attend the funeral of Mrs. Vicki Shepherd. I’ve had the privilege of working with Dr. Carl Shepherd, her husband, in his role as board chair at IWU and as a member of the General Board. Carl and Vicki have been a tremendous example of fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ in their local church, denominational, and global engagement. There were many beautiful tributes to Vicki but none was more meaningful than the video testimony of a young woman that Vicki had led to Jesus Christ while she and Carl served together in a Muslim country in Central Asia. Our prayers and sympathies are extended to Carl and his family as they carry on Vicki’s legacy of love and lay ministry.
Saturday morning, I joined Rev. Chris Williams and leaders in Region 3 at The Bridge Church in Logansport for a conversation around the book “Lead Like Wesley.” Pastor Chris serves as Assistant DS for Region 3 in addition to leading the ministry at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion. It was good to connect with these pastors and to hear stories of the ways that God is moving in their ministries!
Our Crossroads District team loves to celebrate redemption stories. In addition to the four baptisms on Sunday at The River yesterday, Pastor Eric Roemer and the team at Greentown Wesleyan Church shared the exciting report and photos from their celebration service with four baptisms on the previous Sunday. Praise the Lord!
I also love hearing stories of how our churches are finding creative ways to share the love of Christ with their neighbors and friends. This past week, Pastor Mike Weller and the team at Restoration Church in downtown Anderson collected supplies, made up 200 care packages called “Blessing Bags” and passed them out to people in need. Mary, pictured here with Pastor Mike, had the vision for this outreach and their entire team rallied around to accomplish this practical expression of God’s love!
October is Pastor Appreciation Month! Information was sent earlier by email to the lay leaders in each church. Here’s the link for some excellent resources to help you make this a special opportunity for your congregation to bless your pastoral staff members:
There is still time to register for the Retired Pastors and Spouses Fellowship on Friday, November 12, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion. You may register by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a voicemail message at our office: 765-674-8593
Plan to join us for The Heartland Gathering on March 22-24, 2022 in Pigeon Forge, TN. Each church received a scholarship for one pastoral couple to register that can also be applied toward the THRIVE initiative. We’re excited for this opportunity for our pastoral families to rest and renew together. For the speaker lineup and more detailed information, please visit:
Thank you for partnering in the harvest for the 3 million in Indiana!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent