Phyllis Sortor Named Woman of Quadrennium

Missionary Phyllis Sortor (left) receives the Woman of the Quadrennium Award from WMI Executive President LaWanda Bullock.


Free Methodist missionary Phyllis Sortor received international news coverage after her abduction Feb. 23 and release March 6, but that dramatic experience in Nigeria was not the reason Women’s Ministries International presented her with the Woman of the Quadrennium Award during the July 14 luncheon that celebrated WMI’s 125 years of global mission.
“The next week, she was kidnapped,” Bullock said at the luncheon in a packed ballroom of the Grand Caribe Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. “People around the world prayed, and God answered prayer, and she was released.”

Bullock said that Sortor received the award because she has “devoted years to the people of Africa, a land she deeply loves.” Bullock cited Sortor’s childhood in Mozambique, her previous ministry in Rwanda and her work in Nigeria with leadership development efforts and International Child Care Ministries. The award recognizes Sortor’s “outstanding sacrificial service and intentional Christian leadership, an example of WMI’s principles and purposes.”


Bishops Re-elected at GC15

Matthew Thomas speaks to General Conference 2015 delegates after they re-elected him as lead bishop. (Photo by Katie Ehle)

General Conference 2015 delegates voted Thursday, July 16, to re-elect Bishops David Kendall, David Roller and Matthew Thomas.

Delegates also voted for Thomas to continue serving as lead bishop of the Free Methodist Church – USA. Thomas addressed the conference after the results were announced.

“First off, I think I definitely speak on behalf of Bishops Roller and Kendall. We are humbled to serve the church, and we don’t take this both honor and responsibility lightly,” Thomas said. “We love you. We pray for you. It is a privilege to serve. As we pray for the church, we would ask that you pray for us.”

Other bishop nominees were Delia Nüesch-Olver, the Latin America area director for Free Methodist World Missions, and Mark Van Valin, the lead pastor of the Spring Arbor (Michigan) Free Methodist Church.

“I just want to say thank you to Mark and Delia. Those are two fabulous leaders in our church,” Thomas said. “They’re both very highly effective, and both of them have indicated they just are privileged to serve. I’m grateful for their leadership. It’s highly valued.”

GC15: The Whole Church Gathers

Bishops David Roller, David Kendall and Matthew Thomas.

More than 2,200 Free Methodists from around the world met in Orlando, Florida, July 13-16 for General Conference 2015. North Central Conference Superintendent Mark Adams described GC15 as “a Spirit-filled event impacting our churches for decades.”

Superintendent Jim Jobes said the participants from the Pittsburgh Conference  “found GC15 to be filled with inspiration as well as information and plan to hold a conference-wide event in October to help our people understand and effectively implement the Nine Strategies in our local churches.” 

Fellow Superintendent Ben Tolly said, “Thursday evening, after the close of General Conference 2015, I found it difficult to go straight to bed. I had spent hours and hours during the week talking over plans for the direction of our denomination and next steps for our Gateway Conference in the coming year. Truly what sparked all this conversation was a general conference that was spiritually invigorating, relationally engaging, and intent on purpose! Our denomination has a bright future!”

New England Conference Superintendent Wil Sharpe praised the conference as “uplifting and energizing. I left GC 15 with a new appreciation and pride to be part of the FMC. I am grateful for its leadership and the impact it is making in the world for Christ! The kingdom is being enlarged through the clear call and commitment of the FMC to remain strong to the mandates of Scripture. What a great time to be a Free Methodist!”

Whether or not you were able to make the trip to Orlando, you can still participate in the call to become “Whole Church.” Keep reading for more information about what happened at GC15 and where the Free Methodist Church is heading as a result. 
You can visit for more information. 

The Vanishing Teachable Moment

My mother-in-law was treated unkindly by someone claiming to be a professional in the medical field. This happened about a month ago, but no, I’m not still fuming over this. I feel bad that it happened, but that’s not why I bring it up.

As my wife was sharing with our whole family about the injustice served to her mom, our kids became justifiably upset (I’m glad they care). They started telling us what they would have told the so-called professional had they been in that situation. I began to hear how my kids might treat telemarketers in the future. It wasn’t pretty.

And that’s when I saw it. That moment parents enjoy…a teachable moment. 


Camp Chenaniah



8 Leaders and 10 campers travelled from Winona Lake, IN to Honor, MI to join about 40 more campers for a week. Our theme for the week was Imitator as we learned all about Ephesians 5:1, where Paul wrote to command us to imitate Christ. Our team of leaders organized all the activities, from recreation in the afternoons to devotions in the cabins at night. Pastor Rick did the teaching in the evening chapels and we saw many kids come to accept Jesus into their hearts.

Anyone who has done camp ministry knows it is round the clock work for an entire week. But even after an exhausting week, many of our leaders and campers were ready to return. Perhaps you can join us next year?



Living the Dream

Living the Dream

We are beginning a new series in church called “Living the Dream.”

Every person started out with a dream – a dream about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Doctor or fireman, nurse or famous actor, policeman or superhero.  When you were a child, somewhere in your mind something pushed at your imagination and you mentally placed yourself in the role of what your dreamed you would become.  Maybe you saw yourself as a hero that would save the world from destruction or maybe you saw yourself as great inventor that would discover something that would make a difference in this world, alleviating the world of some horrible sickness or disease.  My grandson, Ryan, thought he would grow up and be a super hero. One day he was dashing through the house with his cape flying behind him. My daughter told him he needed to stop. He told her, “Mom I can’t help it. It’s in my blood!”

How is life working out for you? Are you living what you once dreamed would be the reality of your world or have you found yourself instead just settling into an existence in which your greatest goal is to just get through another day?

God also had a dream for you when you were first created.


Love People, Sometimes Be Nice



Our lives are filled with beautiful thoughts like “love people.” These beautiful thoughts are easy to clap for but hard to implement — beautiful thoughts like “save for retirement,” “eat less” and “exercise more.” Love people.

It’s a great idea. I mean, what kind of grinch wouldn’t want to love people? It’s a great idea, as long as we let the word “love” be a vague concept and “people” a theoretical construct. The problems come when we start talking about what “love” means and which people, specifically we’re to love. That’s where it gets messy.


Four Steps for Fruitfulness



“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

What a privilege we have to walk alongside Jesus in bringing glory to the Father by producing kingdom results. Once we experience the fruit Jesus has chosen us to produce, it goes far beyond a call or duty and quickly becomes our joy and underlying purpose in life. There is nothing quite like seeing the transformational power of Christ at work in our family, church and greater community. Telling the stories of salvation, hearing the testimonies of changed lives and seeing the restoration of broken people take place before your very eyes makes every ounce of effort worth it.

I am thankful for every story of fruitfulness that takes place in our church, but, like you, I would like to see more of it. I long for the days when this is not just happening in a few lives, but in tens, hundreds and thousands of lives. Call it revival, call it awakening, but I just want to see the fruit of Jesus Christ overflowing in our churches and communities. So how do we get there?

I believe there are a few simple steps we can take to build the momentum needed to see more fruit in our churches:


Finding Community Through Stories


Reflecting on my years as a student in higher education, I realize that a strong sense of community is what I appreciate most about the two Free Methodist institutions I attended, Central Christian College and Greenville College. Based on my experiences since then, I have come to believe that community cannot be achieved if individual and collective stories are not told.


Teen Sex Trends

by David R. Smith
“Today’s teens are having more sex than ever!” “They’re not practicing safe sex.” “Their irresponsibility is leading to more pregnancies…and abortions.”

It all sounds familiar. But is it true?

The Rate of Pants Dropping Is…Dropping
According to research conducted by The Guttmacher Institute, it appears as though teen pregnancy, teen birth rates, and teen abortion rates are dropping…all at the same time. Between 1990 and 2010, teen pregnancy fell by 51%. The teen birth rate also tumbled 44% from its highpoint in 1991, and teen abortion plummeted a whopping 66% from its peak in 1988.