Sunday morning, November 6, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Rev. Kyle Horton and the team at Three Rivers Wesleyan Church in Fort Wayne. I brought greetings from our district team, shared the morning message, and met briefly with the Local Board of Administration after the service.
Pastor Kyle and Nadine Horton joined Sherry and me for lunch and a fun conversation catching up on their sabbatical experience. Three Rivers Church provided Pastor Kyle with a 12-week sabbatical this summer both in appreciation for his ministry through the pandemic and as an investment in his refreshed leadership for the exciting opportunities ahead.
I also appreciate the opportunity to catch up with Rev. Kalina Carlson Smith, assistant pastor at Three Rivers and a member of our District Board of Ministerial Development. I had heard about a special project she’s been working on and was grateful for her willingness to offer this to our district team.
Advent Grief Boxes are a great resource to help grieving pastors, congregants, families, and friends through the Christmas Season. Each Advent Grief Box is designed to last the entire Advent season and consists of five devotionals (one for each theme of Advent and one for Christmas Day), an activity that pairs with each devotional, the materials to complete each activity, and a hand-poured advent candle. The devotions and activities are designed to bring God to the center of grief and suffering through the telling of the Christmas narrative. Pastor Kalina was inspired to make these boxes after her mom passed away in December of 2018. For more information about these grief boxes, visit the links below. Also, Crossroads District clergy can receive 15% off an Advent Grief Box by using the link below, or visiting lielgriefboxes.etsy.com and using the promo code CROSSROADS.
Click Here To Order An Advent Grief Box
Sunday evening, I was invited to serve as a resource person for a local congregation that had already voted to disaffiliate from the UMC. Once that process is finalized, they have formally expressed their intention to become the newest congregation in our district family. These are difficult conversations for any congregation. Let’s pray that God grants discernment to each congregation faced with this decision.
It was good to get back into the normal flow last week after our vacation. I met with our district staff on Monday and then had a work-from-home day on Tuesday. I finally finished reading “Tempered Resilience,” a book on leadership by Tod Bolsinger that several of our pastors had recommended.
Wednesday morning, I was at Wesleyan HQ in Fishers to lead worship and bring a devotional for the monthly chapel service that is provided for our denominational staff. I traveled on to Lafayette to meet with Rev. Alan Downing (Frankfort Connecting Point Church) for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Alan and I met at IU Health where he’s now serving as something like a musical chaplain. He plays the grand piano during visiting hours and is available to pray with patients and staff!
While in Lafayette, I was also able to catch up with Rev. Phil Carder, our new pastor at The Branch Wesleyan Church. Phil is off to a strong start with new families attending. He’s also staying busying completing his Doctor of Ministry degree at Wesley Seminary.
Thursday morning, I met with Rev. Jeff Luedtke (Fairmount Wesleyan Church) for our annual conversation. In addition to leading the growing ministry at FWC, Pastor Jeff also chairs the board of Fairmount Camp and coaches basketball in the public school.
Dr. Bob Hallett and I met over lunch as he shared his vision for the next chapter of his ministry. He is developing a team that will provide shepherding ministry to pastors, many of whom he’s connected with over the last 40 years in capital campaigns and other consulting. He is uniquely gifted for this ministry and you can reach out to him directly if you’d like to learn more:
Thursday evening, I had the privilege of working with the pastoral search team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. Dr. Oliver Dongell is not retiring but will be transitioning this next summer after leading Plymouth Wesleyan for twenty years. We are grateful for his ministry and invite you to join us in praying that God will grant wisdom and unity for this transition.
Friday, I was in Muncie connecting with Pastor Michael Hewitt (Rising Hope) over lunch for an update on the church plant and his recent ministry in both Spain and Morocco. He was in Morocco as a member of a team of professional pool players representing the USA in an international tournament. Even more exciting was his time in Spain with Marcos and Banessa Cruz, his ministry partners, who are planting a campus of Rising Hope Church in Seville. The new ministry they are launching is called Cafe’ Con Dios. Pastor Hewitt encouraged this church planting team and preached with people praying to receive Christ that day. More than a dozen people, including former Muslims, have prayed to receive Christ in the first month of this new campus launching. While Mike and I were having lunch at Chick-Fil-A, we had fun catching up with Pastor Joshua Fox (Hartford City Wesleyan Church).
Saturday, our annual Wesleyan Church History and Discipline pre-licensing class concluded. We had a good group of eight students from across our district including some of our newest Wesleyan pastors. Special thanks to Pastor Steve DeNeff and his team at College Wesleyan for hosting our in-person class sessions. I’m also grateful to Rev. Carla Working, our Assistant DS and DBMD Chair, for her investment in these students while I was on vacation. The future is bright with these leaders!
This coming Sunday, November 13, you are invited to join us for our next Crossroads District prayer gathering that will be hosted by Dr. Ollie Dongell and the team at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. Rev. Dan Fisher, Terry Vaughn and Jose Cardenas will also be assisting in leading our prayer time. We’ll begin promptly at 6 p.m. and intend to conclude by 7. We would be grateful if you could join with us in prayer for revival in our churches and across our nation.
I’m always glad to share the encouraging reports of baptisms that come in from our district churches. Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion celebrated another baptism last week!
The River Church in Marion celebrated more baptisms yesterday. Praise the Lord!
And LifeSpring Church in Richmond celebrated four baptisms at their north campus and one more at their south campus. This was a beautiful but bittersweet weekend as Dr. Steve Bray concluded his ministry at LifeSpring. Dr. Bray has accepted the call to become lead pastor for The Grace Place Church in Stuart, Florida. We will miss Steve and Susan but pray that God will grant the same blessing on their ministry there as they have experienced at LifeSpring.
Pastors, you can still sign up for the Christmas gatherings and for one of the Friday Fellowships that Sherry and I are hosting. We’re also looking forward to serving our retired pastors and their spouse at our fall gathering, November 17 at College Wesleyan Church in Marion.
Please pray for Rev. Dr. Richard Schenck (lead pastor of Circle of Hope) who was hospitalized over the weekend for an emergency surgery. He is on the road to a full recovery but is grateful for your payers!
Keep on making a difference and advancing God’s Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. Thank you to all of our veterans who have served to defend the freedoms we enjoy here in America. Don’t forget that Veterans’ Day is this Friday, November 11.