Pastor of the Week: Jorge Escalante

By: Dezaray Barr

Jorge Escalante

Jorge Escalante is the Pastor of Hispanic Ministries at Trinity Church in Indianapolis. He graduated from high school in 1996 and went to community college for one semester. Trinity Church is located on the North East side of Indianapolis, and Escalante said that they serve a diverse community; “We are working to become a multicultural, multilingual church. What makes this congregation unique is the atmosphere the multicultural movement creates; it feels a little bit (I think) like being in heaven.”

Over the years, Escalante has met and mentored many young people, and he said that it is his great job to hear about the impact his church has on them. He shared a specific story; “Not too long ago, one of my students (who is now 24 years old and married) visited us and confirmed our calling by letting us know that what we did ten years ago really impacted his life. To be honest, we didn’t really do much other than teach them by example. We wanted them to see what it looked like to live for Christ, the true catalyst here is the work of the Holy Spirit in his life.”

One of the biggest challenges that Escalante has had to face is going to church in an all-American environment. “I have always been used to going to the opposite, an all Hispanic congregation, so that was a big change for all of us. Now that I see it, I can see that it was a change we needed to make. Our children are second generation Hispanics, which means they know the culture and language but prefer to speak and learn primarily in English,” he said.

Escalante would encourage IWU students with this simple message: “Life has a funny way of sorting itself out – learn to enjoy and accept every stage of it.”




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

Pastor of the Week: Mike Hewitt

By: Dezaray Barr

Mike Hewitt

Michael Hewitt is the Senior and Founding Pastor of Rising Hope Church in Muncie, Indiana. He graduated from Grace College in 1996 with a degree in Music Education & Performance. He was ordained by the Wesleyan Church in 2010.

“In 1991, I enrolled at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana,” he said. “Starting out, I was a double major in Music Education and Pre-Med. This double major only lasted for two years, as my passion for seeing others come to Christ grew into my calling for ministry. During this time, I discovered that the ultimate purpose of my undergrad experience was NOT education. My first purpose was to discover my gifts and learn how I could best use them in life and in ministry. Second to this, was my education. God used my love for music to help teach worship. He used my passion for medicine and rehabilitation for a calling in ministry to rescue people eternally (Luke 19:10).”

Hewitt shared, “God has affirmed my calling in ministry literally every day for 22 years in full-time ministry. However, we all know God can be full of surprises. One thing I never planned on was planting two churches with plans to plant again in five years. In addition, perhaps my greatest joy has been watching students in my ministry receive a call to ministry and serving in their local church.”

Rising Hope Church is Muncie’s newest church. They are currently meeting once a week as a Launch Team, where they plan, pray and prepare to launch their first public service that week after Labor Day,on September 9, 2018. Hewitt said, “Through the summer we have some exciting outreaches being planned. Being a church planter is an amazing blessing while at the same time a huge challenge. Every day literally brings unique and exciting blessings. I can honestly say that over my 22 years of full time ministry I have never seen God work like he does within the context of a brand new church plant!”

Some challenges for Hewitt and his launch team include: 110,000 people live in Delaware County and 83,000 of people are unclaimed. “This means that 76% of people in our county will be eternally separated from God if they are not reached,” Hewitt explained. “30.7% of people in Muncie are in poverty. 58% of children going into Kindergarten are not ready. Over half of the babies born in Ball Memorial Hospital are born with an addiction. While many of these statistics drive people away, it has drawn our family to Muncie and our Launch Team to Rising Hope. For Rising Hope Church, we don’t see these as insurmountable problems, but more as opportunities for people to see God work.”

Some fun facts about Hewitt include that he’s very good at playing pool, and you can find him at a pool tournament, reaching people for Christ while shooting pool. “I also tour with Gospel Trick Shots performing trick shots and sharing the gospel from the pool table,” he said. If you’re interested, go to to learn more or book a show.

Hewitt and his wife, Kim, have been married for 22 years. Kim has been working as a worship leader since age 14, and she currently serves as the Worship and Administration pastor at Rising Hope. They have six children. Brianne, their oldest, just completed her freshmen year at IWU in the John Wesley Honors College, majoring in Music Education.

Hewitt added, “This summer, as we prepare to launch Muncie’s newest church in September, we realize that we need help. As a result, we are in search of churches that would be interested in going on a missions trip to Muncie and partnering with us.” To contact Hewitt, contact him here.



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

Pastor of the Week: Kiersten Telzerow

By: Dezaray Barr

Kiersten Telzerow

Kiersten Telzerow graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2014 with a degree in Christian Ministries and a minor in Leadership. She is now the Small Group Director at Barracks Row AM Campus for the National Community Church in Washington, DC.

She said that IWU played a huge role in who she is today. “IWU was the place where I grew the most in my faith and a greater understanding of my calling to full-time ministry. I couldn’t even begin to list the professors who made an impact on my life, but just a few of them would be Rev. Vardaman, Dr. Bill Millard, Dr. Dan Poff and Dr. Keith Drury. Every professor I had helped form my character and cultivate my calling, and I am so grateful for that experience,” she said.

When she was just 14, the Lord painted a clear picture for what her life would be, and Telzerow couldn’t imagine doing anything else but ministry! She added, “I had a really healthy image of what it looks like to be lifelong in ministry full-time, as my dad is a pastor as well.”

In her ministry in D.C., Telzerow gets to serve on a great team of those working in small group ministry, where they provide pastoral care, raise up leaders, foster growth and discipleship in the congregation, as they see lives change right before their very eyes. “It is one of the best jobs, because I can focus on tasks and administration all the while growing deep and wide relationships,” she shared.

Although she loves her job and ministry, it’s not always easy or perfect. She explained, “God sometimes calls you to step outside the boat in a way that you may have never pictured. I went from suburban life, to rural life, to urban ministry, in what feels like overnight. It is only by God’s grace and favor that I am where I am and that he has continued to equip me to be right where I need to be. Sometimes the greatest hindrance in our life can be when we have this set picture of what our life is supposed to look like and where we will be when. We try to out plan God, and we can’t. Our job is just to be obedient – to wherever and whenever He calls – in whatever way it looks.”



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

Pastor of the Week: Josh Lavender

By: Dezaray Barr

Josh Lavender

Joshua Lavender graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2012 with a degree in Church Music. He went on to obtain his Master’s in Worship Studies from The Institute for Worship Studies. He’s currently studying for his doctorate from the same institution.

Lavender is now the Worship Pastor at Trinity Church in Indianapolis. He shared, “One unique thing about our church is our commitment to ‘equip the saints for works of service.’ Our gatherings are more like a mobilization center for God’s people than an evangelistic event for unbelievers. Our hope is that by focusing on equipping God’s people in our gatherings, we will learn to live evangelism every day of the week.”

Lavender said that IWU set him on the path that he’s walking today. He explained, “I will never forget the commitment to excellence ‘Prof’ (Dr. Guy) taught us in Chorale, the passion for prayer Umfundisi (Jim Lo) modeled for the student body or the burden for right worship Dr. Cherry instilled in her students. My experiences at IWU set the trajectory for me to study worship and serve in the local church. For that I am deeply grateful.”

Lavender said that he’s reminded of his call to ministry when at least once a week someone in his church’s staff office says, “I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life…”

He also said, “Whether it is when my church is remembering our unity at the Lord’s table, celebrating with new Christians being baptized into God’s family or serving the poor downtown, I am constantly being reminded that there is nothing else I want to do with my life than serve God and His people.”

Lavender and Trinity Church’s staff

Instead of explaining something he’s overcome in his life, Lavender explained that he is currently growing in a specific area. “I consistently feel the hurried current of consumerism,” he said. “Whether it is in my everyday life or our church’s worship gatherings, I am learning to resist the urge to rush. I am increasingly convinced that I can’t microwave things that slow cook… that efficiency can hinder development.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 is one of the passages God has stamped on his heart: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Some fun facts about Lavender include that he loves tea. He has a proclivity for growing plants, and, “I talk about holiness and formation way too much,” he said. “I love reading and talking about liturgy and theology among other nerdy things.”

Lavender would encourage every IWU student to be bold! He said, “Don’t wait for people to reach out to you; initiate relationship. Show love without evaluating whether other people will reciprocate. Decide that no one will feel unloved in your presence! Not so you can have a ton of friends, though that may be the result, but so you can be like Jesus.”



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

Pastor of the Week: Joe Ruberg

By: Dezaray Barr

First Community Church of Matthews

Joe Ruberg is the pastor of the First Community Church of Matthews in Matthews, Indiana. Ruberg attended Greenville College and Taylor University. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1976 with a degree in Pastoral Ministry.

Although he originally attended Greenville College to pursue business administration, God made it clear to Ruberg that He was called into ministry. Ruberg said that after submitting to the Lord’s call, he never doubted that ministry was the right path for him to follow.

“I heeded the call and went to Moody to become a pastor,” Ruberg said. “Through some unique circumstances, I came to this area to take courses at Taylor University where God opened the door to pastor this church in Matthews. I have been here every since 1975.”

Joe Ruberg and his family

The First Community Church of Matthews is located in a town of about 580 people. The small church hosted less than a hundred people. “Being in such a small town, we strive to have a comfortable family feel, although we also draw from the surrounding towns, like Marion, Muncie, Hartford City, Gas City and Upland,” Ruberg explained.

Some fun facts about Ruberg include that First Community Church is his first and last church. This month, he’s been there for 43 years. He and his wife, Pamela, have three daughters. They are each married, and they’ve been blessed with 12 grandchildren.

Ruberg’s words of wisdom for current IWU students is simple. “Run everything through the grid of the Scriptures and trust it to be the truth, no matter who or what would attempt to distract you from it,” he 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. Visit Dez’s website at

Pastor of the Week: Jeff Jahn

By: Dezaray Barr

Jeff Jahn

Jeffery Jahn graduated from McKendree University in 1972 and from the Christian Theological Seminary in 1981. He is now the pastor of Temple Congregational Church in Marion, Indiana. Jahn said, “In college I had a great time singing, not only in the choir, but especially with a traveling group of Christians singing our way through churches, church camps, coffee houses, revivals and a Billy Graham crusade.”

Jahn said that he was called to ministry late one night. “I was dreaming one night and the thought came to me: If I spend my life professionally playing and instrument, what would I end up with?” he explained. “On the other hand, if I spent my life serving God in ministry, what would I end up with? That clinched it for me.”

Arriving in Marion at Temple Church was a bit of an unusual journey for Jahn. “I came about serving this church in a most unusual way. Five years ago, I was called to serve the Westminster Presbyterian Church, which a year ago voted to close. In the process of that discernment, I chose to serve them half-time the final year. Four blocks away, a friend who was serving Temple Church half-time as a final step toward his retirement, recommended me  to replace him,” Jahn said. “We talked, and I began serving them half-time. Both churches adjusted their worship times a half hour, and it worked well. Westminster closed last fall and 80 percent of the congregation began attending Temple Church… who found it necessary to call me to full-time service. The two congregations have worked together very well this first year together.”

Jahn said that the most difficult task in this journey has been he and his wife dealing with her disability for 28 years, alongside raising their children and serving in ministry. He explained, “We’ve learned to manage those responsibilities in a more fruitful way, but in our late 60’s the challenges are changing. But God has helped us through the journey and more importantly helped us enjoy the journey. We both agree that we didn’t sign up for ‘easy,’ which has made all the difference.”



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

Pastor of the Week: Josh Hilty

By: Dezaray Barr

Josh Hilty and his wife

Josh Hilty graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 2006 with a degree in Christian Ministries. He graduated from Wesley Seminary in 2013 with a master’s degree. Hilty is now the Executive and Discipleship Pastor of Brenneman Memorial Missionary Church in Goshen, Indiana.

Hilty shared, “In my time at IWU, I decided that I wanted to be a pastor in The Wesleyan Church. That was partly due to the influence of professors like Dr. Chris Bounds, Dr. Ken Schenck, Dr. Dave Smith, Dr. Steve Lennox, Dr. Bud Bence, Dr. Jim Lo and Dr. Keith Drury. It was also partly due to meeting my wife, Jamie, whose father is a Wesleyan minister. We met in the chorale, where Dr. Todd Guy taught me the value of discipline, hard work and attention-to-detail.” Hilty also looks back on his time at Wesley Seminary with fondness, appreciating the relationships he built with his peers.

During high school, Hilty felt a call to ministry, and God used the people of his local church to confirm that call. “I’ve been certain about it ever since,” he said.

Before serving at Brenneman Memorial Missionary Church, Hilty served at North Branch Wesleyan Church for nine years. “After sensing that my season of ministry was over, I resigned last July. My family and I spent the next five months unemployed, moving back and forth from my family to my wife’s, all over Indiana and into Virginia. We packed up the minivan 14 times to go to the next place,” Hilty said. “The testing of our faith in God over those months was more than what I had expected. God taught me that obedience does not mean ease. He was faithful, providing enough money for us to live, getting us through our youngest daughter’s broken leg our first day in Virginia (with out-of-state insurance), and reminding us with every closed door that one would open.”

The Hilty family

Brenneman Memorial Missionary Church, where Hilty has been serving since the beginning of 2018, is multi-generational. “The uniqueness in this for me is that God led me back to my hometown and outside of The Wesleyan Church – two things I never expected,” Hilty explained. “Our church is unique in that we are being intentional about ministering to those with special needs, from updating our building, to hiring a special needs ministry coordinator. I feel like God is calling us to reach a demographic that is often ignored.”

During the major transitions in his life, Hilty has looked to the story of Abraham, both in Genesis and in Hebrews chapter 6. “God brings me back to His trustworthiness over and over through the life of Abraham,” he said.

Hilty would encourage current IWU students: “Soak up the experience and wisdom from your professors, enjoy the time you have on campus and don’t neglect carving out space to hear from God.”



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

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.

Pastor of the Week: Tony Bye

By: Dezaray Barr

Tony Bye

Tony Bye is the Lead Pastor at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry. He graduated from Wesley Seminary in 2013 with his M. Div.

During his time at IWU, Bye was influenced by many professors. “Dr. Bud Bence and Dr. David Smith, the David Smith that passed away several years ago, were two professors that influenced my life extensively,” he shared. “Dr. Bence made church history come alive in a way that made it seem relevant to today. Dr. Smith opened my eyes to see new theological thoughts that I had never even imagined.”

Bye loved spending time in the Student Center and Wildcat. He’d like to note, “Mike Brown made an awesome bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich!”

There have been many times in which Bye felt a moment of recognition that he was to be a pastor, “but seeing God take my life experiences, both good and bad, and use them to bring hope into the lives of others has been a huge confirmation of my calling,” he said.

Brookhaven Wesleyan Church is a wonderful church right down the road from IWU that has a long history. Bye said, “It’s also a church that is working very hard to be intentional about reaching people in our community and around the world that do not yet know Jesus Christ.”

Bye’s life verse is Philippians 3:8, which reads, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”

Some fun facts about Bye include that he loves the outdoors, and he finds himself becoming energized when in nature. Bye encourages IWU students to never stop learning. “Since the world is always changing, it is essential that we continually learn and adapt as people,” he 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. Visit Dez’s website at

Pastor of the Week: Joel Gearhart

By: Dezaray Barr

Joel Gearhart

Joel Gearhart is the Congregational Care Pastor of Brookhaven Wesleyan Church in Marion, IN. He graduated from Marion College (now IWU) in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in Religion. “My college experience gave me an opportunity to develop spiritually and in the area of leadership,” Gearhart said.  “The opportunities for spiritual growth were endless. Through classes, chapel, Spiritual Emphasis Week, and life on and off campus, God was clearly at work in my life deepening our relationship and preparing me as a Christian to serve Him.”

Gearhart’s call to ministry has been confirmed many times over.  “While my path in ministry has lead in many directions and taken many forms, God’s guiding hand has been unmistakable. I have served as an admissions counselor at Marion College, a youth pastor, missionary pastor in Puerto Rico, a church planter in Chesterton, Indiana, an educator as Director of Church Relations at IWU, a hospice chaplain and now Pastor of Congregational Care at Brookhaven Wesleyan. My experiences at college and along the path of ministry have prepared me for what was to come,” Gearhart said.

“Brookhaven has been more than a place to serve,” Gearhart said, “it has been my church family. When I came to Marion, my wife was in the final months of a terminal brain tumor. The church was a support to me in those critical days as well as encouraging me as a single parent, and through other tough experiences God allowed in my life. It is gratifying to be able to encourage many in the church family who are going through difficult things now.  The body of Christ is an awesome thing. God is Good!”

Some fun facts about Gearhart include that he is a leap year baby, so he’s actually only 16.5 years old. He met Bill Graham when he was a kid and served as National Director for Wesleyan Bible Bowl.



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