Saturday, February 27, 2010

Craig Coe & Pricilla in Colorado

Craig Coe is the Executive Pastor at Cherry Creek Wesleyan Church in Colorado.

He graduated from IWU in 2002 and his first job was in Flatland Indiana with IWU Admissions. As a student he did all of his practicum courses at Lakeview Church in Marion —one each with the senior pastor, assistant pastor, college pastor and music pastor so he could see all aspects of the work—a great idea.

A year before Craig graduated he joined a church planting team planning to launch a church two years later, in 2004—also a great idea. Craig and his wife

He and his wife (Priscilla Ruder Coe) moved to Colorado in starting out as Pastor of Discipleship at the new “Summit Church.” He led the small groups, special classes and seminars, along with leading the marketing and technology aspects in the new church plant.

When the lead pastor of Summit church left in 2006 Craig took on the role of lead pastor. He’s a good example of someone who was happy to be a staff pastor and wasn’t that interested in taking on the mental and emotional challenges of being a lead pastor—but when God and the church called him to it, he stepped up for the next three years.

Later two Wesleyan churches merged (Summit Church and Cherry Creek) and Craig became the executive pastor of the merged church. As exec pastor he oversees the financial and organizational structures of the church and also leads the preschool-daycare. He coordinates the weekend service and is leads the church’s marketing too. Of course he does other things all pastors do, like leading a small group for young families.

I’m jealous of Craig because he lives in my favorite state. I’ve been trying to get IWU to move to Colorado but so far I’ve been unsuccessful—we’ve built too many new buildings in Indiana I guess. But I do visit Colorado! A few years ago Jeanie Argot, Burt & Mason Webb, and I hiked a section of the Continental Divide and Colorado Trail and Craig picked us up at the Denver airport and dropped us off up in the mountains for our three week trek. We almost persuaded Craig to just leave the car at the road and join us!

One of Craig’s good friends is Nathan Lamb—who now works at Wesley Seminary here in Marion. So every time I see Nathan I remember Craig and Priscilla. Craig and Priscilla have some kids but I forgot how many—they are great parents (I hear from Melissa “Rudy” who is always talking about her sister). I still remember Craig form classes—but more so, I picture him in Colorado where I always dreamed of planting a church myself! Thanks for living my dream for me! Craig, you bring great meaning to my life and I’m proud of you!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Steve & Amber Abel

Steve Abel graduated almost five years ago, in 2005. I think maybe I was the first person he "interviewed" when he was decising to come to IWU. That was back when we were first founding the worship major--and I was teaching all the worship courses.

I loved having Steve in classes because he was always in tune with whatever was being taught—smiling, nodding, and “getting it.” It least he always looked like that to me! He was very active as a student in ministry—not waiting until he graduated to get involved. Steve did his practicum at Eagle Church in Indianapolis (where Ian Swyers is now--see entry below). Amber, his wife took a bunch of my classes too—she was always a happy student who reliably offered some clever and sometimes irreverent comment before, during and after classes. Wheneve I saw the printout of students and saw her name I knew it was going to be a fun class. Amber was always freezing at IWU—invaribly bringing a blanket to class to curl up in!

When they got married I expected Amber to persuade Steve to move someplace warm, but they went to serve at the Sidney Ohio First United Methodist Church. He worked there for almost 2 years when Heritage Wesleyan Church in the Quad cities snatched him . I think Mark Schmerse who worked at Heritage at the time contacted Steve first and linked up the church and Stave (more about Mark in a previous entry here). That reminds me how networking is important—you never know which of your former college buddies might hook you up with your next church. Steve is the worship pastor at Heritage church now. Steve and Amber now have a little boy, Lincoln.

I think Steve was instrumental in beginning the new Heritage "Bettendorf venue" (their 2nd Campus) initially, though now it is led by the campus pastor for Bettendorf. He still selects all music for the campuses except his youth worship leaders select their own music for youth programming. Steve is a genius at event planning and plays a major role in the creative planning process and stage design for the large Christmas and Easter events.

When Styeve was a student he led worship too—and that’s exactly what he does—leads others in worship. It is not a watch-Steve-sing performance but worshipping God together as Steve "prompts." Every time I have been in a service led by Steve he has helped me connect with God. I loved Steve and Amber when they were students and I was proud of them then. Still am! I’m proud of you Steve and Amber!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ian Swyers & Danielle

Ian Swyers and his wife Danielle graduated 2006. Ian was a doule major--Business Administarion and Christian Ministry. I had Ian as a freshman first, then several times later. As a student he worked at College Wesleyan Church during the school year and in the summers he worked at Skyline Wesleyan in California and Spring Lake Wesleyan in Michigan.

When Ian and Dannnielle graduated he went to Indianapolis to work with Clint Ussher as a Co-Student Pastor of 6-12 grades at Eagle Church (Christian & Missionary Alliance). Two years later Clint left for Princeton Seminary and Ian took over as the Student Pastor for grades 5-12 He’s been at Eagle Church for about 4 years now.

As “Student Ministry Pastor” Ian has about 130 students who regularly attend his various weekly programs. Danielle works with the youth ministry too as small group leader, program planning, game leader, retreat and trips leader, and speaker. She works a “day job” too as an executive assistant for H.C. Wilson in Wesleyan Global Partners

Ian was gifted high school student himself—he was known as a strong Christian in a public high school. Now he leads other teens to become this sort of witness in their own schools. He is creative, industrous and a great youth speaker. He cruises through our campus a few times a year interviewing students to join him as interns. I always urge stuents to link up—he is a master at youth ministry and has lots to teach. I’m proud of Ian and Danielle.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Zach & Becca Coffin--Spring Lake Michigan

Zach & Becca Coffin are a double-header couple that graduated in 2007—almost three years ago. I had each in numerous classes before they found each other and had them both in one class after they became a couple. Zach was a life-long Baptist and Becca was a Wesleyan from southern Ohio. They are one of those couples professors hope will find each other—and sometimes we “help” make that happen.

When Zach was a student he worked faithfull with the youth at a local Baptist church of 1200. I watched his wise approach to ministry even when he was a student and things didn’t go well in his church. The church of 1200 faced troubles that are not worthy of mentioning here but as a result its attendance dropped to 800 people, then to 600—it was not a pretty sight. As the church crumbled they turned to Zach to lead the children’s ministry then he became the interim youth pastor for a year holding things together. After he graduated the church eventually split.

Upon graduation Zach and his new wife Becca went south—to an independent Presbyterian-ish Community Church that was facing even worse complications that are beyond mentioning here. Yet as youth pastor he led the ministry from 15 to 50 in the following 2 ½ years. Zach and I emailed often while he was building a youth ministry in a “difficult situation.” Zach always had such a delightful attitude—never judgmental, never critical, and always took the long view for the sake of the church—not his own “career.”

So when I heard this fall that Zach and Becca were going to Spring Lake Wesleyan church in Michigan I knew they had got a winner. How well things turned out! Here was a mature guy getting a job at mature church. I like Spring Lake church almost as much as I like Zach and Becca! At Spring Lake Zach is th Pastor of Student Ministry and runs all middle school and high school ministries—about 150 students. He has two other paid staff members and about 40 volunteer leaders helping him. Zach is in a sense the “senior pastor of student ministries.”

About half of the students I teach are Wesleyans. The other half includes Methodists, Baptists, Nazarenes, Independents, Brethren, and even an occasional Roman Catholic. It is OK with me when these students return to their home denomination to serve and minister. But I am always delighted when a Baptist or Nazarene graduate winds up becoming a Wesleyan. I hope that’s not naughty of me but I admit it. I don’t try to “convert” them (Zach will testify to that) but when it happens I am always tickled inside.

Zach and Becca faced some pretty difficult ministry situations—situations that cold have made them quit or give up. But they persevered and kept pouring their time into their ministry and didn’t let the messy church situation deflate their motivation. They are examples to me and my students that they might not get an ideal church situation when they graduate… they might even get a really messy one… but here’s Zach and Becca’s take on it all: “We might find ourselves somewhere really messy but we can never find ourselves someplace where we can’t be used.” God has consistently used this couple who Love God and each other. I expect to hear lots more about them in the future. I’m Proud of Zach and Becca Coffin!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)