The first question I hear from every newcomer to Fall Creek Wesleyan Church is the same: “What does Wesleyan mean?”

We have a proud history, so I never mind the question. It’s just cumbersome to explain.

  • Connected to the great revivals led by John and Charles Wesley that transformed England and America.
  • Historic leaders in social justice causes such as the abolition, women’s rights, temperance, the pro-life movement, and anti-trafficking.
  • Ordaining the first woman in America.
  • Believers in the Bible but not fundamentalists.
  • Evangelical with a small “e.”
  • Founders of Indiana Wesleyan University and five other institutions of higher learning.

How do you reduce 250 years of evangelism and social action to a single sound byte?

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I am a big fan of pastoral ministry, and I’ve written about that elsewhere. Yet I know that many people find the pastorate an uncomfortable fit and are quietly looking for a graceful exit.

The number is nowhere near the erroneous, unfounded, and gleefully over-reported figure of 1,700 pastors a month suffering burnout.

Man having an interview with manager and partner employment job

Even so, some pastors—like some lawyers, doctors, and plumbers—do want to change careers.

The problem is they don’t know how.

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An urban legend circulating around the church holds that pastoral ministry is the most highly stressed, undervalued profession on earth, and all pastors are miserable. In support, this factoid is nearly always given: “1,700 pastors leave the ministry each month.”

Open Door

You’ll see that number touted on blog after blog—always without a citation. This unverified datum flits around the Net like a vampire bat, sucking passion from ministers and their churches.

And it simply isn’t true.

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I did something for the first time this week: went to Washington, D.C., to advocate for political action on a matter that is important to me: comprehensive, common-sense immigration reform.

United States Capitol Building east facade - Washington DC Unite

On Apr. 29, 2014, some 250 evangelical pastors from around the country met for a rally at the historic Ebenezer United Methodist Church (4th & D Sts., SE). Then we set out for appointments with congressional offices. Our visits were arranged by representatives from Evangelical Immigration Table.

Fellow Wesleyan pastor Zach Szmara of The Bridge Community Church and I partners for the day, and we met with representatives of House Members Vicki Hartzler (MO-04), Todd Rokita (IN-04), Luke Messer (IN-06), and my own Congresswoman, Susan W. Brooks (IN-05).

Here’s what I learned on my visit to Washington, D.C.

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Top Indiana evangelical leaders met today at the Wesleyan Church Headquarters, 13300 Olio Road, Fishers, Ind., for a press conference to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

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I was privileged to be among local pastors including Darryn Scheske of Heartland Church in Fishers, Mike Colaw of Trinity Church in Fishers, Steve DeNeff of College Wesleyan Church, Marion, Ind., and other pastors and church officials from Indiana.

We discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform and the April 29 #Pray4Reform event in Washington, D.C., when more than 200 evangelical pastors, including a dozen from Indiana, will meet with their members of Congress.

Here is the statement I delivered.

April 25, 2014

My name is Lawrence Wilson, and I am pastor at Fall Creek Wesleyan Church in Fishers, Ind. Our congregation is home to immigrants from 10 countries of origin outside the 50 United States, and my own wife is a naturalized citizen. We are a nation of immigrants, and our congregation reflects that reality.

I was privileged to attend the citizenship ceremony for one of my parishioners this year, an engineer from Germany. It was thrilling to see him and 71 other new Americans pledge their loyalty to our country.

Yet the experience of immigration is much different for many others, who come here to work at more menial tasks. Many of these workers are undocumented and receive much different treatment. Lengthy detention and separation of families is commonplace. Many live in fear of being deported, making them easy targets for unscrupulous operators.

We have two systems for immigration. Those who come to captain our industries or teach in our universities are welcome. Those who come to do the equally needed and desired work of serving at our tables and tending our properties are treated as outsiders.

This is unjust, and it harms people. For me, immigration reform is not a policy issue; it is a people issue. It is not about politics; it’s about holiness.

The question our society faces is this: Will we treat one another with dignity as persons created in the image of God? Or will we create a permanent class of underlings who are welcome to mow our lawns and serve our food but will never be recognized as equals in our society?

We must do the former, and I am going to Washington to urge congress to reform our laws in a way that ensures accountability, a more secure border, a stronger economy, and the opportunity for aspiring Americans to earn legal status with eventual citizenship.

The leader of my denominationDr. Jo Anne Lyon, was invited to the Oval Office last week, along with a handful of religious leaders, to meet with the President and discuss comprehensive immigration reform.

I don’t know about you, but my boss doesn’t sit down with the boss all that often. It got my attention.

Immigration Rally In Washington

As I’ve begun to examine this issue, I have learned that we desperately need reform—not for political reasons but because it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s why.

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As a seventh grader, I was the greatest football player in the world, and I knew it. There was no organized team, but I played in my backyard every day, by myself.

Football and passion

I would hike the ball to myself, throw long, arching passes to myself, make impossible, diving catches by myself, then run for a touchdown, high-fiving myself in the end zone.

I was unbeatable. Not even I could stop me.

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