The 2005 General Conference met on June 24, 2005, in Huntington, Ind., following four (long) days of meetings by the US National Conference. They welcomed two new national conferences: 21 churches in Mexico, and 17 churches in the Philippines. They joined the seven “charter” national conferences from the 2001 General Conference.
Up to that point, every national conference involved churches which United Brethren people had pioneered. We started the churches in the US, Canada, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, Honduras, Hong Kong, and Nicaragua. But with Mexico and the Philippines, we were adopting churches which wanted to affiliate with us. The same would be true of the churches in Guatemala, which joined as a national conference in 2005.
In the Philippines, there were 17 churches (about 1000 people) which had been started since the 1980s by Rev. Prudencio Lim, a gifted evangelist. The UB connection began in 1999 through the Franklin UB church in New Albany, Ohio. Pastor Mike Brown and an evangelistic team helped Pastor Lim hold a crusade in Luzon, and persons returned nearly every year to help conduct additional crusades (all of which resulted in new churches). In 2004, the Filipino pastors unanimously requested to join the United Brethren church.
The process was more direct in Mexico. Denis Casco, as director of Latin American Ministries, developed relationships with a number of churches in Mexico. When Latin American Ministries was discontinued, Casco continued leading the churches in Mexico.
For the 2005 General Conference, each national conference could send two delegates, plus additional delegates depending on the size of the conference. The United States qualified for 12 delegates. Sierra Leone qualified for four delegates, but none, in the aftermath of 9/11, were able to secure visas (they were told their applications would be processed in October 2005). The other five national conferences each sent two delegates. (We don’t do proportional representation now; each conference, regardless of size, gets two delegates.)
The meeting consisted mostly of verbal updates from the national conferences about their work. The main item of business was accepting two new national conferences into the United Brethren worldwide community.
In 2004, Peter Lee and Mark Choi of Hong Kong Conference met with the Filipino leadership and found their governing documents to be in order. In February 2005, Brian Magnus (Canada), Francisco Raudales (Honduras), and Gary Dilley (US) met with the Mexican leadership. Their documents got a thumbs-up.
And thus, we increased from seven to nine national conferences.