Sunday, November 18, I had the unique privilege of visiting one of our newest and one of our longest-established churches on the same day. Pastor Steve Bray and the team will be celebrating Fountain City Wesleyan Church’s 175th anniversary this coming Sunday. I was able to drop in and bring congratulations on this amazing milestone of ministry.
From their earliest days as one of the stops on the Underground Railroad to the global impact of the present day ministry, Fountain City Wesleyan Church has been a flagship ministry. There was a wonderful spirit of worship in the service and Rev. Ian Swyers brought the missions message for their Faith Promise Sunday.
Sunday afternoon, I had the joy of bringing the message for one of our newest congregations, Shalom Christian Church, on the south side of Indianapolis. The congregation of Shalom is comprised of wonderful believers from the Chin tribe who came to the USA as refugees from Myanmar (Burma).
Attendance now averages in the 60s and 70s with children and teenagers. After the service, I met with the leadership team and Mr. Benjamin Tlungloei who serves as their lay supply pastor. This year, one of their members became the first of their congregation to enroll on campus at Indiana Wesleyan University. Special thanks to Pastor Rick Matthews and the congregation at Southview Wesleyan Church for being such gracious hosts for this growing church.
Before heading back to Upland, I was able to connect for two more meetings, one with a prospective pastor and anther with a prospective church planter.
Monday through Wednesday of last week, I represented the Crossroads District on the General Board at the regular fall session held in Indianapolis. Dr. Wayne Schmidt led the Board through a series of discussions and decisions, not all of which were easy.
One of the highlights was the presentation from the Hephzibah Ministries revisioning task force. The full announcement will be made at The Gathering but I can share that they are charting a course to engage every Wesleyan church in caring for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC).
Two of our Crossroads District leaders participated in the closing session that focused on discipleship. Rev. Jon Wiest shared the story of the D-groups at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis and Coach Jeff Clark (a lay member of our District Board of Administration) shared about the discipleship strategy that is shaping the culture of IWU’s championship basketball program.
Thursday’s highlights were coaching conversations with Pastor Doug Sharrard (Lancaster Wesleyan), Pastor Jeff Luedtke (Fairmount Wesleyan), and Pastor Ryan Budde (Westview Wesleyan). Our office team also hosted Jake Lapp and Matthew Ray from the General Treasurer’s Office to map out our implementation plan for shared services. We’ll begin working with them for payroll services in January and are moving toward utilizing them as our accounting team beginning in the 2019-2020 conference year.
The highlight of Friday was co-hosting our Retired Pastors & Spouses Thanksgiving Fellowship at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. Rev. Duane Seitz gave an inspiring devotional from his study of Bible prophecy. Seth Bye did a wonderful job of handling the logistics and Big Dog BBQ provided a delicious meal for our team. The singing and prayer times are always a blessing with this dedicated group of ministers.
I met with Pastor Allen Gross (Cicero United Wesleyan) later on Friday afternoon for our coaching conversation and was encouraged to hear the progress that Allen is seeing.
Saturday morning, I hosted a small group of bivocational pastors at The Branch in Fairmount to discuss the joys and struggles for ministers who serve full or part-time in the marketplace. We’ll be having a follow-up meeting after the Gathering to explore the ways our district can better serve and support the large number of our leaders who serve as bivocational pastors. Special thanks to The Branch for their hospitality!
My final meeting on Saturday was with a terrific group of leaders from Venezuela who have reached out to us for partnership in the planting and establishing of a new Hispanic church in Goshen. Pastor Franz Gonzalez leads this team and connected with us through Pastor Eliorgy Guerrero who leads our Hispanic Wesleyan church in Elkhart. We had a wonderful conversation about the vision, mission and beliefs of The Wesleyan Church.
Dr. Norman Wilson met with this congregation earlier in the fall. Now they are preparing a letter to our DBA requesting adoption as our newest church. Pending DBA approval, I’ve been invited to preach Iglesia Vida y Esperanza in Goshen on December 30 to welcome their charter members into our fellowship and install the leadership team.
May God bless you and your loved ones as you take time this week to thank our Father for His faithfulness and His many mercies.
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent