Tag : church

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Pastor of the Week: Tim Dilley

By: Kendra Housel

Reverend Tim Dilley

Reverend Tim Dilley is the lead pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has been the lead pastor there for the past 20 months. In 1981, he graduated with his bachelors of arts in pre-seminary studies from United Wesleyan College. He then went on to study church history as Ashland Theological Seminary, and he received his Masters of Divinity from Methodist Theological School in 1989.

Dilley first sensed his call to ministry as a high school student. However, he really began an intentional, prayerful pursuit of his call during Spiritual Emphasis Week at UWC when Reverend Bill Kinnan spoke. It was during this moment that he surrendered his life to doing God’s ministry. This was not an easy choice for Dilley, because his father was hoping that he would take on the family business of dairy farming, expanding the farming operations. God made it clear to Dilley, though, that he was supposed to become a minister of the Word and the Sacraments. Dilley went forward boldly in faith, seeking after God and His will for his life.

His time at UWC was greatly influenced by Dr. Clarence Bence and Dr. Streeter Stuart. Dr. Bence was an example to Dilley of what it looked like to be faithful to scripture and to Wesleyan tradition. He not only learned about doctrinal differentiation, but he also learned about how to put his faith into practice in the everyday and the mundane. Through this relationship, Dilley said he began to “began to grow spiritually knowing that I could have a vital relationship with God and also know that there is a resulting power that comes from that relationship.”

Dr. Streeter was also incredibly influential in Dilley’s life. Dilley recalls learning many tools for effective and disciplined Biblical study and exposition. He emphasized the importance for pastors to continue to grow in their understanding of the Scriptures, and to learn how to best articulate to their congregational flock (as well as those who have not yet come to faith) the things they are gleaning from Scripture. Dilley also credits Streeter with truly impressing upon him the fact that the Bible is the inherent, inspired word of God, and that its primary purpose is revealing Christ to us. From that foundation, Streeter taught Dilley the many ways the word is also useful for guiding Christian life. Among his favorite moments with Streeter are the several times his summer course would go out for Dunk’in Donuts for coffee and conversation. He felt he truly got to know Streeter in those times, learning much from the simple ways he exhibited and embraced his faith in the day to day.

The security of his call to ministry is something Dilley still reviews and reflects on often. He believes in a two-fold calling to ministry, one that, in the words of Martin Luther. is“God’s voice heard by faith.” The second being the external call, including the recognition and affirmation of a church, and those in clerical authority.  Dilley’s inward call has continued to grow in compulsion and peace as he has served as a pastor. His primary external call happened in the validation of his ordination on June 1, 1991, when he was ordained by the North Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church to the ministry of Word, Sacrament and Order.

United Wesleyan College

Good Shepherd Church is 52-years-old and originally began in a wheat field. At its peak attendance, it was among the most growing, thriving United Methodist Churches in Indiana. Currently the church has around  500 in regular attendance, as well as a preschool where they serve 300 children.  Since Dilley stepped in as the new head pastor, they have revamped many aspects of their organization. They adopted a new mission statement, re-aligned staff (which redistributed many of the responsibilities), began a new small-group program and began the process of developing a clearer discipleship ministry for the church body. They also condensed the three traditional worship services into one service and started a new modern worship service. Further still, they began contemplating, as a staff and a congregation, what it will look like going forward to become a more missional church. In the future, they plan to begin a addiction-recovery ministry. Dilley, who has had past seasons of behavioral addictions, testifies to the peace, support and freedom that comes from healing alongside others.

Over the years, Dilley has served as a volunteer firefighter, as well as a fire chaplain. In his spare time, he loves water sports, biking, landscaping, cooking, reading, and the study of church history, reformed theology, and church revitalization. He also has interest in the piano. In all of this, he loves spending time with his family, including his grand-dog, Tazwell.

Dilley claims Romans 6:5,11 as his life verses: “Therefore, we have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

The wisdom he would like to pass along to current IWU students is “do your best, [be] yourself.  Do not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Just allow yourself to think about what are your greatest opportunities in life, even though you may feel lazy in doing so. Don’t ever forget to thank and remember those persons who helped you to become who you become and get to where you are today!” He also passed along the motto, “Love God. Love People. Don’t do dumb stuff!”

 

 

Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the Alumni Center. Kendra is a sophomore Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. She is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.

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Pastor of the Week: Chief Harold Rodgers

By: Dezaray Barr

Chief Harold Rodgers

Harold C. Rodgers, Jr. currently serves as the Chief of Police for the McCordsville Metropolitan Police Department, and he has served in that capacity since September 1990. In October 2016, he was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a bi-vocational Pastor for the Knightstown First Wesleyan Church.

“I was a late bloomer when it came to my post-high school education,” he said. “As many young adults, I had other plans for my life, and college was not one of them. I was fortunate that Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) offered several distance learning opportunities that allowed me to graduate in 2001 with a degree in Business Management. As for my time in law enforcement (approximately 31 years), I have attended more schools, seminars and training sessions than I can count.”

During his time at IWU, Rodgers learned a lot from some very special people. “Had I not attended IWU, chances are I would not have met Pastor Dr. Jim Dunn. Dr. Dunn had a true passion and faith in his words and actions. One of the things that has stuck with me through the years (and I will paraphrase) was a comment he made about scripture and his love for Christ. Dr. Dunn remarked that the Bible, while a book, was the teachings of God and his plan for salvation. He added that Christians should not look at the Bible like a buffet at the restaurant; you can pick and choose the parts of the bible that you wish to subscribe to and abide by and ignore the rest as mere ramblings of old men around a camp fire. Dr. Dunn was always open to discussion and ideas, but never wavered on his demonstration of faith,” Rodgers shared.

Knightstown First Wesleyan Church is known as the little church that could. “Initially, what drew me to the church was my wife,” Rodgers said. “My wife is a member, and at the time, her mother was the Treasurer of the Church. My wife and I were married in that little church on the corner, and I eventually became a member. When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Pastor Gail Whitmire asked me to step in and assume the role of Treasurer. Due to health issues, I had to step away from the position of treasurer and spend some time healing. The church went through some rough times with building issues, the retirement of Pastor Gail Whitmire and its aging congregation. That’s when I received a call from the church’s treasurer and met with Dr. Gorveatte, District Superintendent at the time.”

Knightstown is an unique church because of its spirit. The salvation of one human being in the church is more important to the congregation than the color of the sanctuary’s carpet.

Rodgers said that it’s very difficult to define a time when he knew that he had chosen the right path in either category, be it ministry or law enforcement. “What I can do is relate a story that happened very early in my law enforcement career. When I was working as a police officer, in downtown Indianapolis in the role of security for a large government building, I encountered a homeless man that I’ll call John. John, like many homeless people then and today was unclean, smelled horridly, but was generally harmless. While I do not recall the exact month, I do recall that it was very cold and very wet outside. I observed John sitting on the ground next to the building.  While I could have cost me my job, I invited John into the building and offered him a hot cup of coffee. John eagerly accepted the coffee without uttering a word. I offered John the opportunity to stretch out and lay on one of the marble benches located close to the area I worked in. John got a few hours of sleep in a warm and safe area. This ritual went on for several weeks and had got to the point where I would give John money to grab me some lunch and let him keep the remainder so that he could eat. I had also allowed him the opportunity to use the showers located in the building’s maintenance area. While I would not go so far as to say that we were friends, I will say that he was one individual that touched my heart and still haunts my sleep.  The reason I say that he haunts my sleep is his tragic end. When I left that position, I received information from some acquaintances that my replacement did not treat John with the same kindness, and John passed away from exposure during the winter of 1992,” Rodgers shared. This is just one story of how Rodgers knows that he’s following God’s will.

In his work, Rodgers has a three-rule philosophy: “Is it legal? Is it moral? Will you feel good with yourself when you get home?”

Rick Carder, a volunteer at IWU, said, “Chief Rodgers is a tremendous mentor-leader in his community, his church and police department he leads. He shares his Christian witness through his actions not only his words.”

 

 

Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

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Pastor of the Week: Matt Stewart

By: Dezaray Barr

Matt Stewart

Rev. Matthew C. Stewart is the Senior Pastor of Sweetser Wesleyan Church in Sweetser, Indiana. He graduated from Houghton College in 1992 with a major in Psychology, a concentration in history and a minor in Old Testament.  In the spring of 2018, Steward will be graduating from Wesley Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity and certification in Church Revitalization.

“Since my college experiences were nearly three decades apart at two different institutions, the influences were very unique,” Stewart shared. “At Houghton, I was made aware of God’s mission field in a broader sense than my rural New York upbringing provided. The one unique venue that taught me a great deal was Sunday school with Dr. Bud Bence in the Houghton dining room. The class was engaging and challenged me to think of the world in different ways than I had before. Two other people that influenced me during the Houghton days also have connections at IWU. I spent a great deal of time learning about grace and truth by watching Coach Steve Brooks when I was part of the men’s basketball team at Houghton. Coach Brooks was great one-on-one with all his players and possessed an encouraging spirit. Finally, I was also impacted by Drs. Charles and Darlene Bressler when I spent my senior year living in their basement off-campus. They offered wisdom and humor on days they were needed.”

Stewart said that his experiences at Wesley Seminary have been fantastic. “I learned from professor and fellow students alike on a regular basis. ‘The Doctors’ as I would fondly call them—Lenny Luchetti, Bob Whitesel, Brannon Hancock, Ken Schenck, Kwasi Kena, Sofiya Fosua, and Colleen Derr—helped to increase my ministry capacity greatly in their classrooms over the past 4 years,” he said.

At just eight years old, Stewart received his call to ministry at a meeting in his home church. That day, he preached his first sermon on the way home in the car to his younger siblings, one of whom shares that moment as her day of salvation. “However, I ran from my call, like Jonah, for many years because I was painfully shy, hated weddings and funerals, and I wanted to have friends,” Stewart admitted. “I finally responded to the call after working a couple of years with an inner city youth group in Springfield, Massachusetts while witnessing the impact that a couple could have on the lives of many street kids. God providentially opened the door for our first church placement in Henrietta, NY. The way in which He did so assured me that ministry was where we belonged.”

Rev. Matt Stewart and his family

Every church is unique in its congregation. In terms of ministry, Sweetser Wesleyan is unique in possessing one of the most highly reputable preschool programs in the area. “The church continually receives rave reviews from teachers at Oak Hill that our students are the most prepared as they enter kindergarten,” Rev. Stewart said. “The word has spread among parents as the enrollment continues to grow to the point where a waiting list may become a reality.”

Sweetser Wesleyan also hosts a unique Bible quizzing ministry for teenagers. Bible quizzing enables teenagers to memorize God’s word, hiding it in their hearts and learning the truths of Scripture to the best of their abilities. Sweetser Wesleyan currently has three teams of Bible quizzers that compete and travel around the country.

Stewart calls his wife, Jennifer, the gatherer. “She has the God-given gift of having many people who are searching for a relationship with Jesus Christ dropped in her lap,” Stewart shared of his wife. “Without her as part of the team a major element of our work would be missing.” In his spare time, he goes by Pastor Mike and works with jersey dairy cows, selling milk, butter and ice cream.

 

 

Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

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Pastor of the Week: Steve Colter

By: Dezaray Barr

The 100th Anniversary of Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church, June 16, 2017.

Steven Colter is the Pastor of Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry and in 1993 with his master’s in Christian Ministry.

Colter said that IWU had a profound influence on his life and thinking. “As an older commuter student, I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the campus lifestyle and didn’t have the opportunity to build many close relationships except with classmates,” Colter shared. “Dr. David Smith was a favorite professor. He would never tell us what to believe about Theology, except he would present all of the options and then say, ‘Pay your money, take your choice!'”

Colter did not choose to become a pastor. “I grew up in church and saw that most pastors were not treated very well by the parishioners,” he explained. “Poverty seemed to be the means of keeping them humble, at least in the minds of the church leaders. I was involved in every aspect of church life as a layman: Sunday School teacher, youth leader, trustee, bus driver, board member, visitation committee or whatever there was that needed to be done. I just never felt a call to ministry.”

In 1982, Colter picked up the teens of his congregation from a retreat they were on at the Island Wide Youth Collaborative (IWYC) in Champaigne Urbana, Illinois. “At the last rally, Dr. John Maxwell gave an invitation to all who were open to ministry to come forward. I was only there to pick up our teens, but I prayed a very simple prayer and told God that I was available. Nine months later, after the birth of our third child, my wife and I attended a couples retreat. Dr. Paul Mills was the speaker, and though I don’t remember now what he was talking about, he said, ‘God doesn’t want your abilities, He want’s your availability!’ At that moment God spoke to my heart and asked, ‘Steve, are you still available?’ It was as though I was taken back to that arena where I had prayed many months before telling God I was available!  That moment is still as clear to me as on the day it happened.  No, I didn’t choose ministry, but God chose me!” Colter said.

Steve Colter and his wife, Cheri

Colter began as the Pastor at Chapel Pike in 1992. “I had been a youth pastor for just three years and had no experience as a pastor,” Colter said. “I guess they were desperate, and they invited me to come anyway. It has been a long journey of seeing several different congregations come and go. Most of those who were here originally have passed on to glory or have moved elsewhere. However, one of the joys of staying in one place for a long period of time is the privilege of watching the children grow up, marry and begin bringing their own children to church. I have been able to dedicate several of our children to Christ, officiate at their weddings and watch them use their talents to serve the Lord.”

Colter married his high school sweetheart, Cheri Hiatt. They have been married for almost 43 years and have been blessed with four children, three of whom graduated from IWU. They have nine grandchildren, ranging from 19-years-old to just five-months-old.

 

 

Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

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Pastor of the Week: Reverend Jaci McNeil

By: Dezaray Barr

Jaci McNeil and her husband

Reverend Jacqueline (Jaci) D. McNeil is the pastor of Faith Wesleyan Church in Rockford, Illinois. She was ordained in 2002 through IWU’s online adult program. “Being an older student, with small children, IWU offered me the chance to get ordained via the internet,” McNeil said. “It’s a fantastic way for people like me to further their education.”

“I had worked in youth ministry for 20 years and began to feel that I should pursue ordination, but having been raised in a denomination that is against female ordination, I couldn’t believe
that’s what God wanted for me,” McNeil shared. “I fought it for about two years. Finally one night, I prayed that if God wanted me to become ordained that He would make it crystal clear to me. That week, a
total of 5 men came up to me and said things like, ‘You’d made a great pastor,’ or ‘You should get ordained.’ After the 5th man spoke up, I quit fighting and began my journey.”

McNeil has been at Faith Wesleyan Church for 11 years. “The congregation was told by the District Superintendent that they had two choices: 1. Close the church or 2. Accept a pastor of the District’s choosing. At that point there were only seven people left in the church. Those seven people didn’t want to see the church closed, so they accepted the District’s condition,” McNeil said.

Today, the church has over 50 people. “Our church is a multi-generational church, the oldest member being 88 and the youngest member being 5. We believe all generations should worship together on Sunday morning,” McNeil said. “There’s no such thing as ‘Children’s Church’ here. We are so invested in everyone worshiping together that we even have an 11-year-old boy singing and a six-year-old boy playing the guitar with the band.”

Her advice for IWU students is, “Learn to do something PRACTICAL. Yes, we ministers need to
learn to preach and pray and visit the sick, but sometimes we need to step in and fill a void. Maybe learn to do plumbing or woodworking. When we first came to this church there were zero musicians. Zero. We started doing karaoke, but knew if we were going to grow the church, we were going to have to change that. My husband and I gave our 14-year-old son a guitar for Christmas and told him to learn how to play. I bought myself a bass guitar and learned how to play. Later, I learned how to play the acoustic guitar too. Today, 11 years later, we have a fully stocked band, complete with drummer. No more karaoke for us!”

“Pastor Jaci has remained a dear friend over the years. I first met her over 20 years ago, as she served to mentor and equip young people. I have admired her heart for ministry and her love for knowledge, and I believe she makes an excellent pastor today!” Rick Carder, IWU’s Director of Alumni and Church Engagement, said.

 

 

Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

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Pastor of the Week: Phil Count

By: Dezaray Barr

Phil Count and his wife, Amy

Phil Count is the Senior Pastor at Croswell Wesleyan Church in Croswell, Michigan. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1992 with a degree in Christian Ministries.

While at IWU, Count was in the University Chorale. “University Chorale and Prof. Todd Guy taught me the pride of excellence in what you do,” he shared. “The memories of chorale are some of the best of my life.” He was also in His Instrument. “Being in His Instrument allowed me to travel all over the country and experience all kinds of churches and worship experiences,” Count shared. “I grew up in a very small Wesleyan Church, so these experiences were invaluable in broadening my understanding of what ministry looks like. It helped me so much when I launched out in ministry on my own.”

Count said that despite being told by others not to pursue ministry because it’s too hard, he’s never second guessed his call to be a pastor. “I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else,” Count said.

Count’s 3 children

Count and his wife, Amy, have three children. One is currently a student at IWU and another is hoping to join her at IWU next year. “Our youngest, Owen, is autistic,” Count shared. “He is 15 now, and he is tons of fun. He has a great sense of humor! He was diagnosed at 3 years old, although we knew earlier that there was something wrong. He didn’t say his first words until he was 5, and he wasn’t potty trained until he was 7. We were devastated at first, but he has been such a blessing to our family. He is fun, intelligent and God has used him to make our two daughters more compassionate to people with special needs. Our oldest daughter, Bailey, is a junior at IWU studying special needs education because of him.”

Croswell Wesleyan Church is a rural congregation of 350. “Our people are very generous and very outreach-minded. God recently gave us a vision for the next five years to reach the mostly unreached demographic of 20-40 year-old individuals with families in our area. We will be updating our facilities and starting new ministries to minister to them, and we believe this new focus will cause us to grow bigger and be more effective than we have ever been! We are already sensing momentum, and we are excited to get moving,” Count shared.

If Count could share one piece of advice with IWU students, he would tell them, “Work as hard as you can, but remember that the Holy Spirit is the one who empowers you to make an eternal difference in people’s lives. Seek Him first! Talent only goes so far.”

 

 

Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

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From Reluctance – Rev. J. Scott Howington – Pastor of the Week

scott-howington-3By: Rick Carder

 

What is the secret to longevity in ministry? This question danced around in my head while meeting this week with pastor Dr. J. Scott Howington, a twenty-year veteran at one church. The fundamental notion of a long-term ministry is not unusual especially in smaller churches. I thought to myself, others have served in church ministry for many years but not many remain in smaller congregations. To the point, in a recent survey poll from Lifeway Research, “suggested the average pastor’s tenure in a local church is 3.6 years (See Dennis Cook, July 18, 2011)” recorded in an article written by Dr. Franklin Drummons.

While it is suggested by Dr. Charles Arn from Wesley Seminary that long-term pastorates are best when leading larger, growing churches. Dr Arn shared;

I agree with Roger Parrot, who says: “Lead as if you’ll be there forever! Imagine that the organization and position you are in right now is what God wants you to do for the rest of your professional life” (Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders, Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2009, p. 19).

A pastor that exemplifies the maxim, “Lead as if you’ll be there forever!” is this week’s Pastor of the Week, Dr. J. Scott Howington. He pastors a smaller church in the suburbs of Chicago as a long-term pastor. This has worked for him now for twenty years. I wanted to know the secret. We have “become a community,” says Howington in a recent discussion we had over lunch. His acknowledgment that he knows of ministry colleagues who do not stay in ministry long term. He referenced that in days gone by many homes were built with front porches that symbolized the openness to having visitors. “We now have back yard decks with fenced-in yards,” he said. He is saddened that we just don’t seem to know our neighbors these days. In his usual optimism for church ministry he shared that we need to be intentional about efforts to “get to know people.”

Howington was a delight to speak with as he shared that ministry can be hard and disappointing but “People can let you down,” he shared. He said that his father, a pastor himself, cautioned him about this. “I went to Moody Bible Institute to become a TV news anchor,” he shared. He was not looking to go going into the ministry. One might say that he was it was his reluctance that helped fuel his commitment to ministry once he accepted his Call. “It was during a church service when a lady pastor shared a message about Abraham. It was the words he needed to hear that day that changed his future path and solidified his Calling. Howington said that the minister shared that, “God cannot have any part of you unless He has all of you.” These words forever changed his heart and mind and he changed his direction (completing the Communication Broadcasting degree). One significant lesson he learned which contributes to his longevity is that you must not hold onto things too tightly. He said, “Hold all things to God in an open hand.”

scott-howington-2“My wife felt a Call to ministry or missions,” he shared. It was and is her influence that has impacted my ministry. “If it weren’t for her I would be living and sleeping in a refrigerator box in lower Wacker Drive in Chicago” he shared with a smile. According to the church website.

“Charlene and I were married in May of 1981. We lived in Winona Lake, Indiana for 15 years while I attended seminary and then became a staff member of Pleasant View Bible Church from 1985-1996. (We can talk sometime about our penchant for churches with the name “Pleasant”).”

His ministry is intentionally focused on serving single mothers. His D.Min focused on research that he shared many “churches do not have specific ministry to single mothers,” he shared. This is one of the ministries he is passionate about and he shared a story about how his church recently helped a student from a single mother in his church has been mentored by the men of the church. This student shared with Pastor Howington, I don’t have a father but, “the men in the church are like a father to me. They have always been there for me.”

Pastor Howington shared the importance of teaching the Truth of God’s Word. Referencing his church website;

“I believe that my task is to understand and explain the Bible as it relates to living life in the 21st Century. Then I must model what I preach and teach. I am convinced that the Bible is the most relevant book any of us will ever read.”

Pastor Howington also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Grace Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministries from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

It is a joy to welcome Dr. J. Scott Howington to the ranks of the Pastor of the Week.

 

Written by Rev. Rick Carder, Director of Alumni & Church Engagement at Indiana Wesleyan University.