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Pastor of the Week: Ryan Budde

By: Dezaray Barr

Ryan Budde and his wife, obtained from church staff page

Rev. Ryan Budde is the Senior Pastor of Westview Wesleyan Church. He graduated Indiana Wesleyan University in 1991 with a degree in Christian Ministries and a minor in Music.

“It was while I was attending IWU that God called me into the ministry,” Budde said. “It was also at Indiana Wesleyan that I met my beautiful wife, Rachel.  These were two of the biggest life-impacting decisions I have made, after following Jesus, so my experience at IWU was most definitely pivotal to my life.”

Budde was involved in University Chorale and the traveling group, His Instrument, and these were defining experiences in shaping his future.  “Dr. Todd Guy, Terry Munday, Chuck McCallum and so many other staff and leaders were influential in my life.  I can see God’s hand at work in each challenge and victory along the way,” he said.

“I knew I had chosen the right path in changing my major and becoming a pastor in my spirit, first,” Budde explained. “The peace that I had after making that change, and the passion to know The Bible and truly grasp what was written there affirmed inside of me that I made the right choice. God has confirmed that for me over and over again in many experiences of life-transformation in others and seeing the church grow and prosper.”

Budde said that difficulties show up as a pastor when his humanity shows. “Impatience, misunderstandings, poor planning and other human error on my part have almost always been the reason for the seasons of frustration,” he said. “I tend to want the people to experience the joy of leading someone else into the Kingdom that I overlook the struggles they are facing, themselves.”

Budde’s church is currently in a campaign called On the Move, focusing on the call on all believers to minister in the place God has positioned them. “We are studying Nehemiah, cup-bearer to the King,” he said about the movement. “It has been a great challenge for us all, and people are considering and even seeking what God might have prepared them to do at such a time as this. It is exciting to be at Westview!”

Westview is also involved in IWU church matching scholarships. “The church matching scholarship has been promoted heavily by Mr. Tom Sloan,” Budde said, “who has a great team of people committed to helping college students benefit as I did from a Christian Education at IWU.  I have two kids in school right now who are blessed by this ministry.  We have helped more than 75 students over thirty years to complete their education and graduate from IWU. Knowing the difference IWU made in the trajectory of my own life, it is clear to me that assisting students in this manner is a potential eternity-changer, and a ministry well-worth the effort and sacrifice!”

Budde would encourage IWU student to start being intentional about the ministry God has for you, now. “If you don’t start while surrounded by support like IWU provides you, there will never be a circumstance where you feel more willing and ready. Choose to seek Him now,” he said.

Take a look at the 30-year Church Matching celebration event and the University Chorale concert that Budde hosted at his church at Westview on October 15. Link: https://youtu.be/x4EGEIu_TeM



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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Pastor of the Week: Dwight Robertson

By: Kendra Housel

dwight headshotThis year Indiana Wesleyan University’s biannual Summit event (where students gather for three days, morning and evening, for chapel) was lead by anointed speaker and Indiana Wesleyan University alumni Dwight Robertson. Robertson was an IWU student from 1975-1979 and graduated with a degree in ministry. He later received an honorary doctorate from Bethel College.

Robertson grew up knowing all about IWU (Marion College at the time). His mother and father are alumni and fell in love on campus. After college graduation, his parents were pastorally assigned to a small and remote church in Blue Eye, Pennsylvania. Dwight recalls that it was some of their college friends who encouraged, sent notes, money, necessities they were lacking on a minuscule income, always lifting them up in prayer. This was validation to Dwight growing up that long-term friendships and community could be found at his parent’s alma mater.

As a small boy he attended an alumni event with his parents and was indelibly struck by the lively music his father’s alumni trumpet trio played and how fun and sincere in their faith his parents college friends were. That weekend the IWU (Marion College) “family” community made a lasting impression.

Then during the Homecoming alumni event, Howard Noggle (Dwight’s folks referred to as “Mr. Marion College”) saw ten-year old Robertson seated on the front row. Walking down from the stage before the event started, Mr. Noggle approached and surprised young 10-year-old Robertson, giving him a shiny silver dollar, telling him it was an investment in Robertson’s college fund, and that he hoped he would use it to attend Marion College one day. Recalling the memory, Robertson said that Noggle noticed him and “sowed a seed in a young heart” that day.

As is often the case when a child’s parents both attended a certain school, Dwight took time to look at other schools besides his family’s alma mater. But after plenty of comparisons and prayer, Dwight was led to Marion along with his sister and thirteen other students from their small town in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania.

A local pastor and alumni friend of Dwight’s parents, helped locate a Marion retail job (later he would hire Dwight to lead their church student ministries program during Dwight’s college days). With financial aid and university scholarship assistance, Robertson began his time as a student at Marion College in 1975.

Dwight enjoyed new relationships and college life, but recalls a special semester when he petitioned the Dean to take a few more credit hours and enrolled in a night “Evangelism and Missions” class with Dr. Charles Carter. Robertson had already begun his personal pursuit for more of God, more of God’s will and more of God’s glory to be manifested on the earth.

dwight preachingRobertson was not expecting his future life-course to be radically changed by just a single weekly “night class,” but change it did. The true catalyst was an assigned book for reading and discussion, “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Dr. Robert E. Coleman. In class one night, Robertson confessed this required reading book had rearranged his understanding of and vision for authentic and lasting ministry, that this course and book would no doubt be used by God to set the course for his personal life mission. He now clearly understood that ordinary people are not God’s backup plan for reaching the world. Rather, we are God’s Plan A, and the plan is carried out and multiplied – one life at a time!

Robertson then began pursuing classes with Dr. Glen Martin, notorious for his fiery passion and deep conviction. He sensed such a unique “heart on fire” and “life in purpose” in this laser-focused and caring professor, who was passionate about God, people and a Biblical world-view. Martin’s classes clarified a discipleship worldview which embodies Kingdom values incarnated in people’s lives as everyday Kingdom laborers in every facet and sphere of society. Dwight became convictional about God’s desire for “ministers in every arena of life.”

In the midst of all this growth, Robertson wrestled as a college student who was undeclared in his major, seeking but not finding a specific “call” he’d heard so many others testify to having. He “wanted whatever God wanted,” but couldn’t find ease or clarity in selecting a major. He took classes in all sorts of disciplines, but eventually a job, not a class, led him to declare his major.

He loved helping people grow I their understanding of God’s love, their high value, and God’s unique plans and purposes for their life to be a part of God’s redemptive plan on the earth. Based on the confirmation and fruit God was bearing through His life as a full-time minister while also being a full-time student, he applied for upper Division status as a ministry major. He wrote his entry paper based on a “pastoral call” he had not received, but which he was okay with as perhaps God’s future plans would involve something a bit different. Robertson recounts a freedom that came with acceptance as a ministerial student without having an explicit ministry call. It provided “freedom to live outside the box for the rest of life.” He now looks back on that time of frustration with thankfulness, knowing it was his inability to feel one specific calling that gave him the ability after ten years in traditional local church ministry to found a unique para-church organization – FORGE – Kingdom Building Ministries, which he’s led as CEO for thirty-one years.

Robertson fondly spoke of an early season in the history of FORGE – Kingdom Building Ministries when he was speaking in New York at Houghton College and shared lunch with Dr. Jim Barnes. Dr. Barnes asked Robertson if he would be willing to have a conversation in the future if Barnes were to end up back at Marion College. He stated his conviction that the student body ion the Marion campus would benefit from what Robertson and his young team had to provide. Robertson, unaware that Barnes was about to become the next President, who would eventually negotiate the school’s namesake from Marion College to Indiana Wesleyan University, agreed to meet with him if such a hypothetical situation came to be. Within the first two weeks of Barnes’ presidency, Robertson received the phone call.

Barnes offered Robertson the opportunity to move out of his small Forge headquarters (a renovated garage on the backside of an ally in Marion) and set up offices in a building on campus for the next three years. In exchange for the space, Barnes asked that Robertson and his speaking team be available to speak for chapels, run youth events on campus and train his current “youth conference” staff. For the next three years Robertson and Forge ministry partnered with Indiana Wesleyan staff and students on campus and enrollment grew.

After three great years of on-campus ministry presence, the building Forge was being provided needed to be torn down. Robertson was faced with a new decision: where to permanently locate their headquarters. He and his team felt strongly that they should be centrally located nationally, located in a Central time zone to maximize service coast to coast, and supported by a hub city with a large national and international airport. In 1991, Kingdom Building Ministries moved from Marion, Indiana, to their current location in Denver, Colorado.

One term Forge ministry really loves to emphasize is the word “laborer.” Though it can be a difficult word to swallow, it is essential to understand in a personal walk with Christ that you are a “Kingdom Laborer.” Robertson said that “if you don’t understand that you are a laborer, you won’t be willing to get into the mud puddles of human need where ministry happens. Laborers get things done.” Synonymous with the often used IWU term “World Changer,” Kingdom Laborers do whatever it takes to complete the mission.


IWU Chapel during Robertson's sermon at Summit

IWU Chapel during Robertson’s sermon at Summit

Robertson spent Summit week encouraging the IWU community to love God just a little more, every single day. He called students to prayer as a tangible way to love others, and to stop, see someone and spend time with them– to love the way Jesus does. His time speaking at IWU was highly impactful. To learn more about Dwight Robertson, his ministry with Forge: Kingdom Building Ministries, or to contact him about speaking for an event, please visit here.



Written by Kendra Housel, a 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: Garrett Howell at Awaken Ministries

By: Dezaray Barr

Garrett Howell

Garrett Howell

Garrett Howell is the Founder of Awaken Ministries. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries and in 2016 with a graduate degree in Practical Theology.

“Being an IWU student taught me the importance of seeking God’s presence in my everyday life,” Howell said. “I vividly remember spending hours in my hall chapel as a freshman, praying and seeking God for a fresh movement of His Spirit in my life.  I was surrounded by students and professors who encouraged this pursuit of the Lord, and they added wisdom and insight into my walk with the Lord.”

One of Howell’s favorite professors was Dr. Chris Bounds. “He taught our Theology 1 course and our Theology 2 courses. These classes were powerful and pushed us as students to seek the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives,” Howell shared. “I remember having tears in my eyes during many class periods as we studied about the work of God in our lives, because I was so needy and hungry for the reality of God’s transforming work in my own life. These courses taught us the reality of God’s work in our lives and that we can and should expect and seek that work today.  Bounds was a pastor to us all, and still is a pastor to me.” Bounds also currently serves on the board of directors for Awaken.


Awaken Interns

When Awaken began at Indiana Wesleyan, 10 students were selected to be part of the first discipleship group on campus. “These 10 became a close-knit, deeply passionate team that often resembled a spiritual family: they cared for one another and urged one another on toward Christ,” Howell said. “I will never forget a retreat we took as a team one Spring semester. We went to one of the student’s homes for a weekend of fun. We played Frisbee and soccer, ate great food and laughed a lot.  But most of all, we spent time praying over one another and speaking into each other’s lives.  The authenticity and vulnerability of that community was the most powerful thing I had ever felt in my life.  I knew, at that moment, that this was the right thing for me to be focusing on in life.  It was an undeniable reminder that my life should be spent seeing young believers wake up in their faith and become fully sold out to the Gospel.”

Awaken_shot 3[5657]Howell has seen many incredible moments at the hands of God through Awaken. “I remember a night when our weekly Awaken service was about to begin at Indiana Wesleyan University. Just before the service, our student interns walked through the student center to invite additional students to join the event.  During this walk, one of our interns encountered an IWU student who was less than enthusiastic about joining the service; in fact, this student was very much opposed to joining our worship event.  For reasons we still don’t know, this student decided to take the interns’ advice and attend Awaken anyway.  As the service began, the presence of God was overwhelmingly present in an undeniable way.  People began to come forward to the altar and receive prayer, in spite of the fact that no altar call had been made.  The student who didn’t want to come was watching this, clearly surprised at what was going on.  As the service continued, this student began to feel a sense of conviction, and the Spirit moving in his own life. Crying hard, he walked forward and knelt down to the ground, where one of his friends came and prayed with him. Needless to say, God was moving powerfully that evening!” Howell explained.

Howell encourages IWU students to be strong in their faith now, “Don’t wait,” he said. “The way you live life now is creating your lifestyle for the future. You are becoming the husband, wife, father, mother, businessman, pastor, coworker and Christ-follower that you’ll be the rest of your life by how you’re living today.”

Indiana Wesleyan University’s Homecoming schedule this year includes the Awaken Night of Worship on Thursday, October 5th.  This event will be a worship service that gathers alumni and current students together to seek a fresh movement of God’s Spirit in our lives and in our community. Worship band Alanna Story will be leading worship. and Garrett Howell will be preaching.  Doors open at 9 pm, and the service begins at 9:30 pm.  We would love to see you there!


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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Pastor of the Week: Logan Patriquin

By: Dezaray Barr

Logan Patriquin

Logan Patriquin

Logan Patriquin graduated from Southern Wesleyan University in 2012 with B.A. in Religion and from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2016 with an M.A. in Theological Studies.

“I originally enrolled at Southern Wesleyan University as a Biology major,” Patriquin explained. “I had colorful dreams of working in the field of Chondrichthyology—the study of cartilaginous fishes that includes sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras.  I was particularly interested in the engineering and field-testing of shark repellent technologies. As a freshman Biology student at SWU, your first semester includes Biology 101 for majors.  This course was taught by one amazing lady name Dr. Susan Rouse.  In 2014, Dr. Rouse passed away after a two-year battle with lung cancer, but not before making a lasting impact in the lives of hundreds of students.  I walked into Dr. Rouse’s classroom a puffed-up, arrogant young man who didn’t expect a fair or in-depth presentation of Biology from a conservative Christian school.  I was wrong.  Dr. Rouse was many things, but arrogant or naïve she was not.  I owe so much of my faith to this woman.  She taught me through her unwavering kindness, sharp whit, and obvious deep devotion to Christ that one can be a Christian without sacrificing the life of the mind.  She even took me on as her lab assistant.  I remember feeling awestruck by the way she instructed in the fields of biology, physiology of behavior and scientific literacy.  I grew closer to God because of her faithful dedication to her discipline.  She sparked in me the desire to read and write in the area of science and theology in order to help others encounter the glory of God in the sciences.

“Fortunately for me, as a Biology major I still had to take Basic Christian Doctrine as a core general education course.  Thank God for fine arts educational institutions!” Patriquin said. “In this class, I met the wisdom and humility of Dr. Bob Black.  Over the course of a semester, I heard the gospel proclaimed plainly and persuasively.  Bob Black was able to color all the way to the edges in the beautiful, full-bodied story of the Christian faith.  Honestly, I grew up serving God but never really loved God until someone had the presence of mind to help me work through some challenging theological questions.  I owe a debt to him for stirring up in me a genuine love for God.”

It was because of this professor that Patriquin discovered two of his passions: helping people reconcile their Christian faith with the sciences and diving deeper into the mysteries of God. These passions led Patriquin to marry his lovely wife, Shaina, serve briefly as an assistant pastor in Belton, SC and eventually to enroll at Asbury Theological Seminary.

“Asbury was a full dose of humility.  I always maintained high grades, but I had to work for them– more than having to, I wanted to,” Patriquin said. “I devoured reading texts and relished the opportunity to ask world-class faculty every question I could.  I even audited extra classes every semester because I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to learn into my course schedule or budget.  One thing I loved about Asbury was how with rare exception, every professor poured into me and every other student.”

When asked if he could illustrate a time when he knew he had chosen the right path in becoming a pastor, Patriquin said, “I reluctantly changed my major and my career ambitions when over the course of two full months God just wouldn’t be quiet.  After I encountered the love of God in a real way at SWU, he started working on me.  He asked me to care more about helping people see him then helping people stay away from sharks.  After much counsel and internal struggle, I gave in to a call to ministry.  This call has been confirmed every step of the way: in my first pastoral position, finishing my religious studies and SWU and Asbury, and now in my role as Lead Pastor at Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan Church.  I feel God’s presence in my life and know I am walking in his will.”

Patriquin has been at Schuyler in Lafayette, Indiana since June of 2016. “Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan Church is a community that exists for the 116,000,” Patriquin explained. “During the 2010 United States Census, 116,000 people in Tippecanoe County self-identified as “religiously non-affiliated” or were affiliates of obscure religious groups. Obviously this number is constantly changing, but the 116,000 is a symbol; a symbol that reminds us, ‘the harvest is great but the laborers are few’ (Matt 9:32). The 116,000 serves as a call to action. While the gospel message is supposed to go to the ends of the earth, we know that God has uniquely placed us in this community to be a lighthouse in this darkness. Even in this past year, we have seen a shift take place in our church. While we are still learning how to come together in practical ways to accomplish this mission, it has been amazing to witness the mental shift in our congregation. When we are making decisions, planning events, crafting our worship services or group meeting, people are motivated by the 116,000—thinking practically about how even our internal ministries can have an outreach angle. It is organically beginning to take root in our hearts and beginning to branch out into our community.”

Patriquin encourages IWU students to “allow your time spent in college to transform you. Drink deeply of the well of knowledge and wisdom of your professors. Learn as much as you can as you learn to think for yourselves. Above all, ministry students– seek out local church experience during your education.”



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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Pastor of the Week: Randall Davis

By: Dezaray Barr

randall davis

Randall Davis

Randall James Davis is the Chief Ministries Officer of the National Network of Youth Ministries. He gradated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1986 with a degree in Christian Ministries. “IWU gave me a great start in ministry,” Davis said. “It helped me connect with ministries across the Wesleyan Church and with many who serve in ministry.  Dr. Bud Bence was always an encouragement to seek new ways of serving people.  The Pastoral Ministries class gave me a great picture of being creative in ministry.”

Davis knows that he has done well in being a pastor when he watches his former students. “It is an amazing blessing to see and hear the stories of those former students, serving others with the love of Christ,” Davis explained. “They are in ministry, education, medicine and business.  They are leading their families and friends to grow in an understanding of the Kingdom of God and the calling God has placed on their lives. That makes everything that I have been blessed to be a part of worth it!”

The National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM) serves youth leaders (full-time, part-time or volunteers), helping them connect with other youth leaders so they never feel like they are doing ministry alone. NNYM also helps youth leaders advance their ministry to every teenager in their community. “We know that most youth pastors stay an average of 3.3 years,” Davis stated. “If we connect them to a youth ministry network where they do not feel alone, they stay in that ministry 9.2 years.”

This ministry is important and most definitely needed across our country. “There are 32 million teenagers in the USA, 26 million on 67,000 high school and junior high campuses,” Davis said. “There are 1,200 Juvenile Detention Centers across the states, housing about 1 million teenagers with another million in half way houses, ‘last chance’ schools and probation.  We have to have healthy youth leaders, in every community, reaching out to every teenager.”

As Chief Ministries Officer, Davis works with the NNYM staff that is spread out across the country. This ministry is currently serving over 6,000 youth leaders.  He also works with the denominational youth ministry leaders and para-church ministry leaders of over 170 denominations and organizations.  “We work to network youth leaders in every community to help teenagers become lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.  This will only happen if Christ followers in every community will share the gospel and work to advance ministry to every teenager,” Davis said.

Every year, NNYM hosts the Youth Ministry Executive Council that invites the leaders from the 170+ partner organizations and denominations to gather for united prayer for every teenager, relational connections allowing each to work together, and challenges to improve our ministry and leadership.  “Not everyone can come every year,” Davis said, “but we always have a great time seeing the Kingdom of God come together.”

Randall has been married to his wife, Jama, for 33 years.  They have two children (both married), Ian and Jessica Davis and Amanda and Michael Alexander.

“Through the years I have taken an interest in following Randall and his ministry. I know the wonderful impact that he has made. I know how vital his ministry in for our world today. Youth pastors and ministry leaders are on the front lines for the hearts and minds of our youth where the battle rages every day,” 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 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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Pastor of the Week: Alan Downing

By: Dezaray Barr


Reverend Alan Bennett Downing

Reverend Alan Bennett Downing is the Lead Pastor of First Wesleyan Church in Frankfort, Indiana. He’s been there since August 2014.

Downing grew up in a United Methodist Church near Lafayette, Indiana. He played the piano and organ, and he helped with the choir as needed. “As I got older and out of school, I ventured into the military but continued to offer my musical gifts with the churches in the communities that I lived in,” Downing said. “It seemed clear to me that God’s musical gifts that were imparted to me for the church. How wrong I was in thinking that was all I was going to do.”

Downing graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2008 with a Christian Ministry’s degree. “My future had already been influenced by God, and that’s what landed me at IWU,” Downing said. “The teaching staff at IWU are incredible. They each have powerful testimonies to what brought them to the Lord, as well as how they ended up at IWU. Dr. David Smith, Dr. Keith Drury, Dr. Christopher Bounds, Dr. Jim Lo, and Dr. Constance Cherry invested deeply into not only me, but my peers as well.”

Downing’s time at IWU was not particularly easy. “Everyone at IWU personally invested in me when I reached the lowest points of my life in regards to health issues, watching a parent slip away, or just needing to have someone to talk to,” Downing explained. “They loved on me, cried with me, laughed with me, admonished me, and I knew from the feelings I had on a daily basis, were praying fervently for me.”

Downing’s time at First Wesleyan in Frankfort has been an incredible time for him and the church. “Our congregation is diversified in age, there are two retired pastors who worship there (which can be very intimidating at times), and we are in the midst of growth and change,” Downing explained. “It makes each day different than the one before in regards to what the focus is on. But at the end of the day, God is a providing and loving God and His will is be done at FWC!”

Rick Carder, IWU’s Director of Alumni and Church Engagement, said, “Alan is a person that knows everyone and makes everyone feel special. Recently I worked with him as he volunteered his time at the State UMC Conference serving in the IWU booth. He was positive, friendly, and well-known.”



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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Pastor of the Week: Rick Weesner

By: Emily Neideck

Rick Weesner is the pastor at Garrison Hills Wesleyan in Battle Creek, Michigan, a small church with a close-knit group of attendees. On top of his work as a pastor, Weesner runs an adoption ministry and is actively involved in the Wesleyan Church Campus Challenge scholarship program.

Weesner felt his call to ministry is 1984 and began attending a program through the Wesleyan Headquarters’ Education Department that would allow him to take ministerial courses at surrounding colleges and eventually become ordained. The program was appealing to students with families and full-time careers because it allowed flexibility. Weesner was ordained in 1989, and he spent time pastoring other Michigan churches before settling in Battle Creek.

Weesner’s church, Garrison Hills Wesleyan, has a unique focus on children and youth ministries. Weesner said about his biggest struggle, “Ministry has changed over the years. I’ve always felt the call to a smaller church and that is difficult in today’s world when the focus is on everything big.”

Weesner and his family have a passion for the country of Colombia. The family has two adopted daughters from Colombia, and they have two biological daughters. Their second daughter has adopted two daughters from Colombia as well. After going through the adoption process multiple times, the family realized that the process was financially taxing, and they wanted to do something to help. Weesner and his family created an organization called Project Hope Ministries. The organization provides affordable housing for families that need to stay in a country for adoption purposes. Weesner said, “Our ministry also is working with the communities to help with education.”

Weesner is also involved in Wesleyan Church Campus Challenge and has been for 25 years. He stated, “My kids were also involved. They wanted to go to Indiana Wesleyan, so we looked for ways to raise money for that. Because the challenge was helpful in enabling my daughters to go to IWU, I’ve always wanted to help other kids as well, and the challenge provided that opportunity. I’ve always found enjoyment in hearing the success stories.” Indiana Wesleyan University is the most successful of competitions. Currently, Weesner is the director of the IWU competition.

The Wesleyan Church Campus Challenge will take place on IWU’s campus on July 29th. To learn more about the competition, click here.


Written by Emily Neideck, writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.

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Pastor of the Week: Dan Berry

By: Emily Neideck


Dan Berry, photo obtained from Facebook

Dr. Dan Berry is the District Superintendent for the South Coastal District of the Wesleyan Church. Before his position as District Superintendent, Berry served as a pastor in different churches in Pennsylvania, as the District Superintendent for the New England region of the Wesleyan Church and at a church in Warsaw, Indiana.

Although Berry graduated from United Wesleyan College in Allentown, PA, his sons Jason and Joshua and first wife Shelley and second wife Debbie, were graduates of Indiana Wesleyan University. Berry’s second wife, Debbie, has two sons that also attended Indiana Wesleyan.

Berry graduated from United Wesleyan College with a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry. He has since continued to pursue a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Evangelical School of Theology, and he also completed a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Drew University in Madison, NJ.

As District Superintendent, Berry oversees over 100 pastors. The South Coastal District is also home to the largest Wesleyan Church, 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA. The church has grown immensely since Berry has been in the district. He stated, “District Superintendent is sort of a pastor to the pastors. Having my previous pastoral experience, I understand what it is they [the pastors] are dealing with. You know what you have gone through, and there is probably nothing that happens today that you haven’t been through and are able to help with.”

Berry’s calling to ministry came through a single, personal moment during his freshman year of college. He said, “I had a moment of surrender, and when I surrendered my life to Christ, I knew that would be my call to be a pastor. I was fighting that because my father is a pastor.” Berry’s life since college has been an example of the deep surrender that he experienced in college.

In 2007, Berry and his first wife were in a terrible accident. He said, “The greatest life changing event took place in 2007 when my first wife Shelley and I were in a very serious accident. She was in a coma for three months and experienced months of rehab. I provided 24/7 home care for 2 ½ years until her death on March 5, 2010.” Much like Berry’s call to ministry, this event changed his life forever. He stated, “The death of my wife, Shelley, was the most painful, most difficult challenge I have ever had.”


Dan and his wife Debbie, photo obtained from Facebook

However, in the midst of this hardship, Berry has been able to have joy. He said, “I am confident that she [Shelley] is at home with the Lord Jesus Christ. God has turned my “mourning into joy” by providing me a second chance with a new marriage and a new family.”

Challenges have arisen in both Berry’s personal life and his pastoral life, and he said about his pastoral challenges, “I think that the toughest thing is criticism and the personal expectations that are unrealistic that we place on ourselves. We hold ourselves higher than God. I’ve had to learn to lead for an audience of one. The only one I am trying to please is God.” To accomplish this, Berry, once again, practices complete surrender – an act of keeping God at the center of his pastoring.

Berry spoke of God’s ability to know each of our unique gifts and talents. He said, “Remember that God has called you to be you and not someone else. He has called you with your talents, personalities, and skills and you have to trust that God knows exactly what you bring to the church, your job and your community. Just go ahead and be yourself – of course, be your best self.”

“It is a pleasure for us to honor Dr. Daniel A. Berry as this week’s Pastor of the Week,” says Rev. Rick Carder, Indiana Wesleyan University’s Office of Alumni & Church Engagement. Berry’s story of personal trial and triumph is inspiring to us all and a reminder of God’s faithfulness.


Written by Emily Neideck, writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.

Pastor of the Week: Richard Cole

By: Heather Cox

Richard Lee Cole graduated from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University) in 1985 with a B.S. in Christian Ministries and an Associates degree in Christian Education. Today, Cole has been the lead Pastor and founder of Daybreak Community Church located in Lapel, Indiana for 20 years.

Before he was a Pastor, Cole was a student. Cole said that during his time at Marion College, he had professors and mentors who not only encouraged him in his pursuit to become a pastor, but they brought excitement into his life for what was to come. Bud Bence, Joe Seaborne, Wilbur Williams, and Duane Caldwell were some of Cole’s favorite professors and mentors at Marion College.

As far as how Cole became a pastor, his story is a bit more unique. Though he felt called to be a pastor starting when he was 18, Cole got married right out of high school, began working for General Motors and pushed his calling to be a pastor aside for a while.

Eventually, Cole came back to this calling and decided to do a course at home in order to obtain a license to become a pastor. Cole explained that this home course did not go well, as there were many distractions at home.

After working for General Motors for around 10 years, Cole was laid off, which was actually the beginning of something new. General Motors offered to pay for his education.

“They said that they would help with some of the financing on getting a degree in something, and I asked them about being a preacher. After negotiations, they said absolutely they would. I realized that I had everything going my direction, and I realized that this was a God thing. I’d been married ten years, had three boys and a home,” Cole explained. “I said ‘Wow Lord, you have opened up the doors… this is a no brainer.’ I just walked through that door that God had opened for me, and Indiana Wesleyan was the school I chose to go to.”

After becoming a pastor for a few years, General Motors called him back to work, so Cole began working full time at both the factory and as a pastor. Cole did this for 20 years, until he was able to solely focus on being a pastor.

“I have never thought of myself as anything but a pastor. I’ve never thought ‘Oh, maybe I’ll go to a different direction.’ Now, I’ve been a senior pastor for 32 years, and I’ve never wanted or looked at doing anything else,” Cole said.

Though Cole is continuously pursuing God’s calling in his life as a pastor, the job does not come without difficulties. Even returning to school brought Cole some difficulties that he had to overcome.

“I was never a good student in school, and it was very important for me to even pass my first test in college. I was dreading more than anything that I would not be able to read the material or write or get anything out of it, but the school really helped me with some reading classes, and I felt very successful,” Cole explained.

Cole said that one of the hardest parts of being a pastor was having to move his family around a few times when his children were young.

“The hardest part for the family is leaving the home that they had grown up in and moving off to a new school system,” Cole said. “There was a lot of soul searching not only with going to college, but also moving up to Marion. Moving to Colorado Springs for my first pastorate was a real tough thing for all of us to be on the same page, but it worked out beautifully.”

Cole’s grandson is currently in the process of pursuing an education at Indiana Wesleyan University to become a pastor, and Cole has a granddaughter doing the same in Oklahoma. In addition, all three of Cole’s sons have become ordained in the Wesleyan church.

One thing Cole has learned over the years and wants to pass on to current Indiana Wesleyan students is to not become intimidated or discouraged by people you work with or for. He said, “Every time I ran into a difficult time I had to remember: I’m not doing it for them. I’m doing this for my Jesus.”


Written by Heather Cox, writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!

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Pastor of the Week: John Freed

By: Heather Cox


John & Danielle Freed

Reverend John Freed graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2003, after majoring in Christian Ministries. Freed then went on to obtain his Masters Degree in Christian Leadership through Wesley Seminary, graduating in 2008.

Today, Freed is the lead pastor of Waterline Church located in Fishers, Indiana, which he also founded along with his wife Danielle, who is also a 2003 IWU graduate.

While pursuing his Masters Degree, Freed said he appreciated the flexibility of the program. He was able to continue working in Ministry while also going to school. Freed explained that he didn’t want to have to step away from Ministry to step into a classroom.

“The teaching was very relevant to what I was working with. I could tailor what I was learning to my ministry,” Freed explained. “As I went through the master’s program… it allowed me to really understand and clarify the calling that God has on my life.”

While he was a student at IWU, Freed had a few professors that were particularly his favorite.

“I would say Dr. David Smith and Dr. Jim Lo were both very influential,” Freed said. “Dr. Keith Drury was a very influential Professor and mentor.”

Freed is able to confidently say that planting Waterline Church with his wife is something he was created to do.

“When I was going through the beginning stages in the beginning phases of church planting and starting something from scratch, I could see that I was supposed to do this with my life– that I was created to do this. Because of starting this church and church multiplication, church planting is something that has only been reaffirming my calling in life,” Freed explained. “I talked to one person a few months ago, and they have said they’ve never really had that feeling that this is what they were created to do, and I can definitely say that starting this church with Danielle is something I was created to do.”

The process hasn’t been entirely easy, however. Freed said one obstacle he had to overcome was learning about fundraising and how to fundraise.


Freed and his family

“Church planting requires a lot of resources and a lot of partnership. I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but because of God’s calling and strong mentors, I was able to learn the skills of fundraising. Now I teach that to other church planters,” Freed said.

Freed loves leadership development.

“I absolutely love pouring into the leaders of our church and developing them. All of our staff are very young, and they’re full time. This is their very first job out of college, so helping them discover their own calling and what God created them to do [is awesome],” Freed said.

Freed explained that Waterline Church is a unique place to be, because the church reaches a unique group of people. The church specifically reaches out to people and families without a church background.

“Maybe [Waterline congregants] have never felt comfortable stepping into a church. We’ve created a place for people who are curious about those things to come and just be curious, to be welcomed and accepted no matter where they’re at their spiritual journey,” Freed said.

Because Waterline’s goal is to reach those who do not regularly attend church, they like to host a lot of events to become connected with the community.

“We want to earn the right to tell people about Jesus. We do that by serving in our community: being generous and finding projects that maybe most people overlook, but that are a huge need in our community. Then we just pour leadership and resources, and we use all of our gifts and our talents to meet those needs,” Freed explained.

Among those events include benefit concerts for human trafficking and for victims of crime and abuse. Through events such as the benefit concerts, Waterline has paid for the therapy and counseling for 80 children and families who have been victims of sexual abuse.

Additionally, Waterline has partnered with various organizations. Recently they have provided 250 pairs of socks for homeless people and 12,000 items for expectant mothers, incuding 7,000 diapers and 5,000 wipes.

The church is also in the process of planning an Easter egg drop, scheduled for April 15. A hot air balloon is going to drop 10,000 Easter eggs onto a field for children in the community. According to Waterline Church, this is a free event for the first 750 pre-registered children up to age 10.

When it comes to words of wisdom for current Indiana Wesleyan students, Freed said to “start!”

“Start something. Even if you fail at starting it, at least you tried starting it. Just try to start something new, start something fresh, something that no one else has done. It will push you, and it will stretch you,” Freed said. “It’s not about actually accomplishing it, it’s about the actual process.”


Written by Heather Cox, writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!