Lessons from the Red Kettle

By: Rick Carder

Every year it’s a joy to volunteer my time in the community. This year, I took time out of my schedule to volunteer with Marion’s Salvation Army‘s Red Kettle. For just a couple of hours, I stood outside of the Marion Walmart greeting the patrons as they entered and exited.

Volunteering is a lot of fun and especially when it’s within your particular niche. My niche just happens to be conversation. I love to greet people and listen to their stories. Perhaps that’s why I am enjoying my time in the Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni Association as the Director of Alumni & Church Relations.

Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army is a blast in my opinion. If you enjoy observing people and interacting with them, I would highly recommend this experience. It is most interesting to me to see the reaction of people who either avoid looking at you or make every effort to let you know that they have already donated. I happen to enjoy the former more, because it is a challenge to get people to break out of their comfort zone and offer you at least a gesture of a greeting. It’s usually the nod of the head or a simple wave.

I have observed three different types of people during my time ringing the bell. First, you have the avoiders. These are the people that will go out of their way to look away and pretend they don’t hear your bell ringing and verbal greetings. One lady, who did everything she could to avoid talking to me, pretending to not hear me at first and then when it was all to obvious I was there, looked into her purse as if to grab a cell phone call. I remembered her and when she came out later I loved the opportunity to get her attention. “Hello again, and good evening,” I said. While looking straight at me, she walked past as if I was invisible. Now I’m certain she heard me because her eyes seem to convey an assurance of my existence, but she was not going to communicate with so much as a wave or nod of the head. She simply kept walking. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I’m certain that she had other things on her mind. Perhaps they were burdens or a fear that somehow talking to me would commit her to dropping a few coins in the Red Kettle.

Then there are the people who just simply respond to my greeting with a simple echo of my greeting. “Good afternoon!” I’d say, and they would mutter, “Good afternoon to you as well”. I refer to them as the echo. This is the basis of society called reciprocity, the reciprocating of your smile or kind words but never going beyond that simple response.

You may be like the third person I encountered in my bell ringing. These people represent the true heart of charity and perhaps the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This usually calls for a little special treatment of their response. Perhaps they not only say hello back, but they also say God bless you or thank you for being here and even offer a kind gift of a donation in the Red Kettle.

Scripture speaks often about this golden rule, going the extra mile and give cheerfully. The Christian faith is full of examples both in scripture and in life of how important it is to put others ahead of yourself. In order for a society to better itself, we need to have charity and goodwill with a splash of hope that reflects the love God has for each one of us.

This time of year there are many who are ringing bells, trying to call attention to their favorite cause. They desire to bring goodwill to one and all. It is this time of year that we think of the Christmas carols and even reflect on Charles Dickens, Christmas Scrooge. It is this time of year when charity seems to come to life visibly and in real, tangible ways.

One young lady with her six-year-old stopped at the Red Kettle and told me simply, “I can’t walk past a single one of these Red Kettles without putting something in!” as she stuffed several dollar bills into the kennel. “This organization helped me when I was in great need, and they bought gifts for my son. I am grateful and especially now that I’m on my feet I can give back so that others will have the same opportunity I once needed from this great organization.“

So take note the next time you hear that faint bell ringing; there is much to be gained through charity. There are so many benefits because of it. May that bell ringing remind you that we can do for others as we would have done to us. In this we could reflect the kind of love that God extended to us when we were yet undeserving. It is through our acts of kindness we show others that we best demonstrate the love and goodwill of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” – (Saint Francis of Assisi) St. Francis of Assisi



Written by Reverend Rick Carder, Director of Alumni and Church Relations for Indiana Wesleyan University’s Alumni Office.

Pastor of the Week: Dr. Dave Holdren

By Rick E. Carder, Director of Alumni and Church Engagement

Dave HoldrenIt was in mid-80’s that I first became acquainted with Dave who was speaking at an event that students of Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University). I was immediately impressed by his personal interest he took in speaking with me. His reputation as a Wesleyan Churchman and pastor had already impressed me for his commitment to serving and leading pastors.

Today I invite you to celebrate with me and congratulate David E. Holdren as Pastor of the Week, highlighted by Indiana Wesleyan University Office of University Relations, Church Engagement.

Holdren graduated from Owosso College in Michigan and completed his seminary degree at Asbury Theological School in Wilmore, Kentucky. According to West High Alumni article,

Along the way, Indiana Wesleyan University and Houghton College both presented Dave with honorary doctorate degrees. Since Dave could not get his wife to call him Dr. Dave, he suggested that with two master’s degrees, maybe she could refer to him as…well, that didn’t work either.

In 2000, Holdren elected him to be one of the General Superintendents of The Wesleyan Church World-wide. He was the only one at this top level to ever be elected directly from the role of a pastor at that time.

Holdren is now serving the Daybreak Community Church in Marion, Ohio. He is the lead pastor of a growing church that is intentional about reaching out to their community. From Dayspring Wesleyan Church’s website,

He loves pastoral work because, “you have the honor of going through life with people”. He and Marlene led the Cypress Wesleyan congregation in Columbus into a long period of campus development and growth that included a 2,000 member congregation, school, preschool, daycare and a wide ranging, large sports ministry, all on a 110 acre campus.

In the 80’s, Holdren served as a churchman at the Wesleyan Church Headquarters as its Executive Editor of Curriculum and Director of Leadership Development. He served as General Superintendent beginning in 2000 for a few year’s. He began his ministry as a child while at Cypress Wesleyan Church. He worked as a janitor when he was only thirteen years old. From 1985 to 2000 the Holdrens gave leadership to the Cypress Wesleyan Church, a ministry on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio as the church attendance grew from 250 to over 1,700.

I caught up with Pastor Holdren in Brooksville, Florida. He is currently speaking at the Brookville Wesleyan Church during their annual Bible Conference. His depth of Biblical insights and art of storytelling sets him apart from his peers. He is well-received by people and personally loves teaching the Word of God.

His ministry of writing, preaching, and leading Bible Conferences and Camp Meetings has been a service to the Church at-large. His desire is to disciple and train church leaders. Author of Bible Commentaries and many articles, his influence extends beyond his local church. From the Commentary article by Wesleyan Publishing,

This commentary explores key issues that may explain why 2 Peter is one of the least read books of the Bible. The relationship between 2 Peter and Jude is given special attention, and five major objections to the Christian message, as presented by false teachers, are presented and Peter’s rebuttal to each is noted. 1, 2 & 3 John and Jude are written with pastors and local church teachers in mind. Drawing on biblical scholarship, this commentary offers clear applications that impact the daily life of followers of Christ, providing insight on the nature of Christ, the dynamic power of love, and the essence of holy living.

Some of his sermons are available on Wesleyan Sermons. Holdren is a pastor to the Called. He encouraged church leaders, “Be encouraged because God does not just call the gifted he gifts the called.”

Pastor Holdren is married to Marlene and has two grown daughters, six grandkids and a great granddaughter.

Congratulate Pastor Dr. David Holdren as this week’s Pastor of the Week.


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

Jan Paron – Extraordinary Pastor-Educator, Pastor of the Week

By: Rick Carder

speaking-iwu-graduationJan Paron can easily be described as a pastor, educator, author, professor, dean and culture shaper. She is all of these and more. Her extensive background is only part of the story. Feeling a call to ministry, Paron went beyond what was expected. She desired to see a culture shift in the local church and those whom she leads. Her call to ministry was clearly guided by the work of the Holy Spirit. She recalls, “I met Pastor Dan at a Gospel fest fundraiser. Not long afterwards, I visited his church. Before I knew it, the Holy Ghost led me to speak to him about starting a school. About six years later, a small core team and I birthed All Nations Leadership Institute (ANLI).”

Since 1975, Paron has been serving as an educator and in more recent years she has become an expert in developing communities of ministry, helping to shape a culture of diversity and effective ministry in urban settings. Serving as an Assistant Pastor in Alsip, Illinois yet her influence goes beyond her local church setting, on staff at Lighthouse Church of All Nations. Under the ministry of Pastor-Leader, Dan Willis  (www.danwillis.org) who is himself an extraordinary leader, Paron worked to develop an educational institution that has trained hundreds of local church leaders. All Nations Leadership Institute (ANLI) provides a four year education training men and women for multicultural church ministry. Paron is not only developing curriculum but also teaching and serving as Dean of the institute.

Paron’s resume is filled with extensive educational credentials. She is not only a graduate of the Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, she also holds degrees from Loyola University of Chicago. Her master’s degree in ministry leadership from Wesley Seminary was completed in 2014. She spoke to her classmates representing both a highly qualified educator but also demonstrating a culture-shaping leader. Paron holds a master’s and PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola. She is certified as a Missional Coach with Bob Whitesel, PhD (churchhealthexpert.wordpress.com), professor and mentor from the Wesley Seminary. Her Pastoral training was completed through the Lighthouse Bible College.

author-image-janDuring her interview I inquired with her about some of the most significant questions. Here are here answers to those questions;

I’m interested in knowing about how you felt directed to do the PhD. Can you explain?

Even as a young adult, leadership suggested developing people rather than managing them. I knew I wanted to teach at an early age influenced by helping my mother, also a teacher, set up her classroom throughout grade school. Her daily classroom recollections fascinated me, especially when her eyes lit up recounting success stories of her students getting got it. I played teaching in the backyard and knew my degree intentions during high school. It seemed a natural extension once a teacher to transition into the “principalship” and work towards later involvement in curriculum and instruction at the

district and university levels. After I completed my MEd in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University of Chicago, I wanted to know more about the field and continued in the doctoral program there. Loyola appealed to me as an urban center with a diverse student body, noted for its emphasis on scholarship, research, and academic excellence.

What is the life verse that has been most meaningful to you and why?

As an assistant pastor in a multicultural church, an ambassador for Christ to reach all tribes and nations for the cause of the Gospel, I look to 1 Corinthians 9:19 as my life verse: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (KJV). For me, this verse encompasses core leadership actions that surround unity of the Church: intentionally ministers to the multitudes; views others with openness; adapts the method, keeps the message; focuses on the call to the all; shows inclusion and impartiality; and uses value communication (Paron, 2016).

One of the greatest cross-cultural missionaries of all times, the apostle Paul continually adapted delivery of the Gospel’s message by contextualizing it to reach the nations with purposeful communication actions giving access to salvation to those who received it. Yet, he adamantly maintained the truths of Scripture. He did so with a bondservant mindset (9:19b) in that he “gave up self-interests and will to advance God’s mission as a slave for the sake of Christ, approaching enslavement with joy, devotion, obedience, yielding and sacrifice” (Paron, 2013). The “hina clause” that follows explains his passionate pursuit with the continuous action “that I might gain the more” (v. 19c). As a “servant to all” (v. 19b) he strived to win over an even great amount for Christ’s favor and fellowship (Thayer, 2009; cf. Mark 9:35).

While supporting the ministry of reconciliation with the multitudes, I must show the same zeal as Paul with a servant’s heart to reach as many as possible for the sake of the Gospel not letting life’s challenges interfere: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (v. 24).

How has your degree from the Wesley Seminary been beneficial to your ministry and/or personal development?

My Wesley Seminary education expanded foundational knowledge in both urban ministry and theology. Without a doubt, I incorporate what I learned into everyday practice, personally and pastorally. More importantly, my professors served as anchors in my own spiritual journey during my time at Wesley and today. Each invested in my life, nurtured my strengths, and helped me grow into my call. I cannot go without mentioning the many friendship I gained and still hold now.

What brings you the greatest joy and how is that fulfilled through the ministry that you lead as a pastor/educator?

All Nations Leadership Institute (ANLI) has an admittance policy that seeks to open access to a wide range of the called to urban, multicultural ministry. Men and women ages 18 and up can enroll in our college. We offer affordable courses with seminary

content in a theory-to-practice format. Students come to us with broad backgrounds insofar as academics, socioeconomics, ethnicity, race, residence, age, and denomination. Some of our students did not finish secondary school, while others have doctoral degrees. ANLI has a recent influx of students in their twenties enrolled in the four-year pastoral track as well as those beginning the program as seventy or eighty. Christ values each one, as does the Institute. After teaching 42 years, the drive to create conditions for student success runs stronger in me than ever. Whenever I teach, I always reflect on what to improve upon in my lessons for better student understanding.

In the ten years of All Nations Leadership Institute’s existence, the teachers trained students to serve as middle-door assistant pastors to a congregation of over 5,000. A high calling taken seriously, the assistant pastors have the responsibility of retaining the parishioners between the middle doors preventing them from leaving through the exit. As one of the assistant pastors myself, I understand the extreme importance of the role. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48 ESV). The ANLI staff nurtures every person as sheep in their flock during the time each attend our school to prepare them for their responsibility ahead. As the dean of All Nations Leadership, knowing staff sowed into the students’ call as leaders and journey into multicultural ministry brings me great satisfaction. At the academic year’s end, I weep with great joy when I watch my students anointed as elders or pastors at the Lighthouse Church of All Nations ordination ceremony; another class passed through our doors and will serve the King bringing His message of the Good News to the nations!

Teaching over 20-courses and authoring more than a dozen published articles. She also writes a blog called PerSpectives12 . Her passion is also focused on the All Nations Leadership Institute. Click on the link to follow about her teaching ministry as well as the upcoming SpiritLife Conference allnationsleadershipinstitute.org.

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

Rev. Brad Wright – “How God Uses Even Me.” – Pastor of the Week

By: Rick Carder

brad-wrightThis week’s Pastor of the Week goes to Rev. Brad Wright, lead pastor at Lafontaine Christian Church since 2013. Possessing the gift of Preaching and Teaching, Pastor Brad serves as an example of humility and practical ministry. During lunch, Pastor Brad shared that his Call to ministry was one that included challenge to allow God to use him although “I am not extraordinary,” he shared.

Not growing up in church makes Wright’s Call to ministry very insightful. He can relate to those that don’t show up to church. His love for people is remarkable. He talked with a dozen people as we shared lunch. He gave high-fives to several elementary kids and shared encouraging words with many others. It is obvious that his ministry is very effective. Serving a congregation of just about 350 people and leading his staff of 3-4 people, it is also clear that his ministry is that of God’s love demonstrated to people. “I like people,” he said. “I’m just a knucklehead that God uses,” he added. Not self-deprecation, but rather humility was what I observed. He is confident in his Calling, but he seems to understand how to relate to people every day. “God uses even me to make a difference,” he shared.

Although he did not grow up in church, he shared that he attended church as a teenager primarily because it was an opportunity to see the girl he was dating. Now married to that same lady, their ministry is community based. Missy, his wife, serves as a Probation Officer for Wabash County. They both shared in ministry prior to his current church with Whites Residential Services nearby that provides home-based, foster care, adoption, and residential care for young people. “We both attended Bible College in Florida,” he said. It was through that experience that he received his Calling to ministry, and they eventually married.

lafontaine-christianI asked Pastor Brad about what Bible verse he would consider his life verse. He shared that I Corinthians 15:54 & 55 meant the most to him along with Jeremiah 29:11. These verses remind him that God is a good God. “I am reminded of the wonderful work God has done in my life,” he shared. He told me that there are hard times in ministry but he encourages his staff and reminds himself that “we need to focus on the positive work God is doing,” he shared.

We talked a great deal about understanding the local church culture and community as well as understanding the mission of the church. “We just can’t take every good idea and apply it to the church’s mission,” he said.  He expressed thanksgiving as he referred to his congregation. His focus is intentional as he considers the mission of the church. From the church website their mission expression is, “A group of imperfect people trying to walk with a perfect God and help other imperfect people do the same.”

From his website:

Before coming to LCC as the Senior Minister our family spent the last 20 years in some form of Youth Ministry from Children’s to Campus Ministry mostly in the State of Indiana.  My wife Missy and I have two beautiful daughters, Tyler and Jaycie, plus one annoying dog!

This month is typically a time when many churches celebrate their pastor through Pastor Appreciation Month. We celebrate the ministry of the local church and most notably, pastors. This week we recognize Pastor Brad Wright and invite you to also congratulate him and the ministry he leads.

Pastor Brad is an IWU Alum, completing IWU’s online BS degree in Ministry in 2008.


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

Connections Make the Difference

Untitled“Make connections! Build your network! Build relationships!” These are three statements that every college student hears multiple times throughout their time on campus. What does this mean and why is it important?

Ben Snowden graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in December of 2014, and lives to testify that relationships are key to starting your career. He majored in Accounting and Finance and began the job search before graduation, but he was not having much success.

On graduation day, Snowden ran into the Alumni Relations Director, Rick Carder, and got asked, yet again, what he was going to be doing after college. “I told him I was not sure yet and would soon hit the job search heavy,” Snowden said.

“He told me to contact him so I did, and he proceeded to give me three names. From those three names, I got an interview at all three places.”

Before he had talked to Carder, he was having a difficult time finding an organization with the right culture and environment. Because of all the connections that the alumni office holds with graduates, Carder was able to guide him in the right direction.

“I think the network he built is really cool,” Snowden said. “It helped me get a job at a place where the culture really does uplift Christian values. For me, being able to network with people from IWU who are aware of those opportunities was great.”

Untitled™From that one connection, Snowden’s firm called Hamil, Leman and England, ended up hiring two people from IWU. Their firm now has two recent IWU grads as staff accountants, and the Co-Owner of the firm, Brian Hamil, is an IWU MBA graduate.

“Rick Carder focuses on making connections and keeping in contact with people. For me, that had value because I knew that the connections that he was giving me wouldn’t just be for a job,” Snowden said. “They would be for a job in which the culture was Christian and could help me grow professionally and as a Christ follower.”

He regrets spending to much of his time and effort on work and school while he was at college. He did not take time to sit down with people and chat and just build strong relationships.

Snowden encourages everyone in college and even after college to take time to talk with people and build connections for the sake of relationships. “Often times out of those relationships you build, something great will happen,” he said. “The world becomes so interconnected that you never know what one of those connections could be. “

Along with help from the Alumni Office here on campus, many people receive career advice and assistance from the Career Development Office. Jordan Delks, their Employer Relations Coordinator, serves the students and alum by providing them with meaningful job and internship opportunities.

Most recently, Delks met with an IWU alum in Huntington. The alum bought an insurance business and told Delks he was looking to hire a few sales representatives. Delks was able to send the alum 12 resumes within a time span of two weeks.

Some alum find connections by pointedly talking to individuals such as Carder or Delks. Others attend conferences and events to independently network and get their name out there. For example, the Fort Wayne Alumni Regional Network meets nearly every month at the Fort Wayne IWU Education Center. This would be a great place to see new faces and shake hands with other professionals.

There are so many opportunities to make connections and build relationships here at IWU and around our community. We love to see our alumni succeed in every aspect of life as they move on after graduation.


Written by Kelly Reed. Kelly is a senior Strategic Communications major with a focus in Public Relations. She is the President of IWU PRSSA and hopes to work as a communications director of a nonprofit organization after graduation.