This past weekend, March 29-31, Rev. Chris Williams and I came alongside Pastor Matthew Stewart and the team at Sweetser Wesleyan Church for a StratOp planning retreat. The leadership team gathered on Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon to gain perspective and to plan their action initiatives for the coming year.
Chris and I also had the privilege of worshiping with them on Sunday morning as Pastor Matthew preached from John 9. Sweetser is another of our Maximizing Impact churches that is making progress in moving from an inward to an outward focus. They are seeing new families reached through the effective preschool program that Jennifer Stewart leads. Sweetser Wesleyan also is known for mentoring IWU ministerial students. I’m encouraged by churches like SWC that have a vision for Kingdom impact!
Last Monday, I joined Dr. Wayne Schmidt, GS, and District Superintendent colleagues for a Zoom meeting. Dr. Schmidt is a wonderful encourager and takes time each month to connect with superintendents through this online forum. He shared an update on the progress in selling the property and revisioning Hephzibah for a new season in resourcing Wesleyan churches and families to serve vulnerable children. Hephzibah’s board has elected a new chair, Rev. Anita Eastlack, and hired a new Executive Director, Jodi Lewis, R.N., who has been leading a ministry like this at Kentwood Community Church (Grand Rapids, MI) for more than a decade. This week’s WesLife e-newsletter will have details. Continue to pray for and support Hephzibah!
The Wesley Seminary Board met at Indiana Wesleyan University on Tuesday. While these are challenging times for all of higher education, Wesley Seminary was able to report increased enrollment for the year, with growth in their M.A. programs and the new Doctor of Ministry degrees. Wesley Seminary now offers the MDiv fully online and is one of only a handful of accredited seminaries who are also able to offer their degrees in Spanish. Rev. Stan Hoover has effectively chaired this board since the seminary was founded and at this, his final meeting, he prayed over Rev. Phill Tague who is succeeding him as chair. Pray for Dr. Colleen Derr as she leads the seminary into a bright future.
Wednesday, I was on the road for coaching conversations with Rev. Jarod Osborne (Warsaw Pathway Church), Rev. Greg Holmes (South Bend Sonlight Fellowship) and with Rev. Terry Vaughn (South Bend The Bridge Urban Church). Before heading home, Pastor Terry and I dropped in on the midweek discipleship training they offer at the public library in downtown South Bend. I also had the opportunity to visit with Rev. Jose (Eliorgy) Guerrero on my way to South Bend. He is doing a wonderful job leading our Hispanic ministry expansion in the northern part of our Crossroads District.
Thursday, morning, I met with Pastor Tim McClellan (Marion Lakeview) for our annual coaching conversation before joining the District Conference planning team meeting at Abbey Coffee. After lunch with that team, Rev. Amanda Blair convened our ReEquip steering committee for final logistics and a walkthrough at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church where we’ll be meeting this Saturday. I am really looking forward to this leadership training event for our pastors and lay leaders featuring Rev. Mike Hilson and Dr. David Smith. Last year, more than 200 joined us. Our team is ready to welcome you!
Later Thursday afternoon, I met with Joel Hunt, Wesley Seminary’s Director of Advancement. We are excited to announce that Rev. Dan LeRoy will be a guest speaker at Wesley Seminary on Tuesday, June 4. Dan authored the book, Rediscovering our Holiness Heritage, and he will share from his lifetime perspective in the holiness movement. The evening session (7:00-8:30) will be free and open to public. Mark your calendar and plan to join us for this conversation about the present and future of the holiness movement.
Friday morning, I met with Assistant DS Williams for planning as we move into the final month of this conference year. I also had the opportunity to interview a prospective pastor over lunch before heading to Sweetser. This student will be graduating from IWU this spring and we discussed ministry opportunities in the Crossroads District.
I’m always encouraged to hear stories of life change and progress in our churches. Rev. Dale Munsell reported that Albion Cornerstone welcomed 12 new members and celebrated 3 baptisms this Sunday with 2 more baptisms scheduled for April!
Thank you to each church who has already given to the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund established for the tragedy in Mozambique. Just a reminder that the Crossroads District Global Partners Fund is matching the first $10,000 in donations as we respond through Rev. Able Nove and our colleagues planting Wesleyan churches in Mozambique.
Our Crossroads District Spring Prayer Retreat is fast approaching. Join Dr. Jim Lo and our team of intercessors who will be leading us in prayer. I anticipate that we will have a special focus on evangelism as our churches prepare for outreach on Easter Sunday. We are meeting at Fairmount Camp on Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. with a free lunch included. Bring your prayer partners and specific requests for this time of calling on God. Prayer is not preparation for the battle, prayer is the battle!
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
P.S. All ministers under appointment in the Crossroads District will be receiving directions by email for completing this year’s online Annual Service Report. Our headquarters office made changes to improve this reporting so please follow the directions carefully.