Sunday morning, February 24, I traveled to Lafayette to worship with Pastor Logan Patriquin and his team at The Branch (formerly Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan Church). Pastor Logan has wisely and patiently led the congregation in renewing the vision, remodeling the facilities, and rebranding the ministry for greater effectiveness in connecting with their community.
They’ve also recently added Amber Bass to their staff team as youth and worship director. Attendance is averaging in the 90s and they are seeing an increase in first-time guests. After the service and a brief meeting with the LBA, I enjoyed connecting with the pastoral team over lunch. These are exciting days for the Branch and the future is bright!
Sunday afternoon, I met with Lay Supply Pastor Kay Dickerson and her husband, Bill, at Kirklin Wesleyan Church. We had a great meeting and I stayed to bring greetings in the evening service. Bill and Kay have served at the church for 30+ years and have seen it through some ups and downs. The church averaged just 14 in 2015 and some people questioned whether it could survive. Sister Kay (or Mama Kay as some of the folks like to call her) agreed to provide spiritual leadership to the congregation and was appointed as a Lay Supply Pastor by the DBA beginning in the fall of 2015. The church has rebounded under her leadership and averaged 46 last year.
The church was originally planted in 1893 by three women meeting with a burden for their community. The church continues to have a heart for the hurting today as they partner with the crisis pregnancy center in Frankfort, a recovery ministry, and a homeless ministry in downtown Indianapolis. They hosted a New Year’s Eve service and singspiration with 100 in attendance. They’ve undertaken repairs on the parsonage and paved their parking lot this past year, all debt-free. I’m grateful for leaders like Sister Kay who step up and stand in the gap!
Last week was lots of fun with a variety of meetings and leadership connections!
After completing the Team Update on Monday morning, I met with Dr. David Smith for an insightful conversation on the connection between spiritual transformation and persistence in congregational participation.
Monday evening, I connected with Dr. Steve DeNeff in his office and then met with the College Wesleyan Church LBA (Local Board of Administration) as they unanimously affirmed Pastor Steve’s extended call. These are exciting days at College Wesleyan as more than 21 leaders are taking the Sunday messages back into their weekday workplaces and leading Bible studies. Pastor Steve shared some amazing stories of the life transformation that is taking place through the ministry of these lay leaders.
Tuesday morning, I met with our district staff before heading north to meet with Pastor Steve Sparks in Monon for our annual coaching conversation. My final meeting of the day was with Pastor Don Bayne (New Carlisle Wesleyan) for supper and our annual coaching conversation in Michigan City.
Wednesday, I met with Pastor Ben Thomas (Avon Nehemiah Church) in Kokomo for our annual coaching conversation and preparation for their upcoming pastoral vote. Pastor Ben is midway through the Clinical Pastoral Chaplaincy training at Community Health in Kokomo. Wednesday afternoon, I met with Kevin Batman, General Treasurer, for an update on the work that his team is doing in preparation for the shared services agreement we're undertaking in the new conference year. Kevin is a long-time member of our district family (also our former district treasurer) and has a great heart for serving local churches and pastors.
Thursday, Pastor Matthew Trexler (Region 1 Assistant DS) and his team at The River Church in Marion hosted the quarterly meeting of our Crossroads District Board of Administration. I am grateful for the dedicated members of our DBA who provide direction and counsel to our collaborative ministries. We had an engaging conversation about societal and technological changes that are impacting ministry for our churches today and over the next 10 years. Pastor Trexler also provided a guided tour of The River’s recently completed remodeling project.
Friday, Chris Williams and I met for follow-up work from the DBA meeting. Coach Jeff Clark and I met for follow-up from the College Wesleyan LBA meeting. In addition to a full plate at IWU and serving as a member of the DBA, Jeff also serves as the LBA vice-chair at College Wesleyan. Friday afternoon, I met with Dr. Jim Vermilya at IWU to learn more about the ways that IWU is encouraging students to consider participating in a church plant when they move to their first job whether its in health care, education or business. President Wright is casting an exciting vision for 50 churches to be planted by teams of students from IWU over the next 10 years!
Friday night was also our Marion Zone Fellowship with a great turnout at Thornapple to share a meal, conversations, and prayer. Thank you to Zone Chair Jeff Luetke for rallying his team and to Mrs. Gorveatte for her gracious Southern hospitality.
After the Zone fellowship, Pastor Jeff Luedtke and I made a quick late-night run to Fort Wayne to drop in to connect with students and thank the leaders who make our Annual Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter event happen. A huge thank you goes to Lane Sander (DYP) and Andy Jellison for leading the team that produced another amazing all-nighter! Special thanks to every pastor and youth sponsor who invested their energy (and lost some sleep) to make sure their teenagers could be part of this high-energy, spiritually-impactful event. Youth groups were represented from across our district, from Anderson to Chesterton.
We are grateful for the support of large churches like Lakeview, Brookhaven, and College Wesleyan, but just as excited to see the 6 teenagers that Lennaire Vaughn brought from the Bridge Urban Church, our church planting project in South Bend. Muncie Rising Hope blew everyone away when they showed up with 23 students. One of my favorite pictures of the evening was of the teens from Rising Hope connecting with the students from Brookhaven that had spent their summer missions trip in Muncie last summer renovating the fellowship hall into a community center for youth outreach.
Here’s a picture of these two youth groups together:
Remember to mark your calendars and bring your leadership teams to ReEquip at Marion Brookhaven Wesleyan Church, April 6. Here’s the link to share with your team and to register today: http://www.reequipconference.org/
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent