Beirut

A refugee camp in Lebanon

At the YFC center in Beirut

College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.) has begun a partnership with YFC Lebanon and the work they are doing with Islamic Syrian refugees. A team of eight persons traveled May 31 to work with YFC refugee camps targeting 12-18 year-olds in the Bekaa valley. They will be among the tent communities very near the Syrian border.

Because it is Ramadan (the Muslim time of year during which there is strict fasting from sunrise to sunset), all activities will be after sunset. The team will break fast with Islamic families and then lead in camp-type activities. The teaching will be on the contrast between Muslim fasting and Christian fasting, with the desire to point students to Jesus.

They will also spend time with the YFC Beirut Center called Manara (Lighthouse). A quarter of a million people live in 1.6 square miles around the center. Students from many different ethnic groups and religious backgrounds come to the center to be tutored and receive ministry in various capacities. The team will do an outreach night on one evening to high school students (mostly Islamic in background), and one night with middle schoolers. The group return June 10.

Lester Smith prepares to baptize a young woman.

Pastor Smith leads a young girl into the baptistery.

Mayor Adam Stockford

As previously noted, Lester Smith is retiring on June 1 after 38 years of United Brethren ministry. On May 20, as he prepared to conclude 20 years as pastor of Hillsdale UB church–or the HUB, as they call it–Pastor Smith baptized eight persons.

Bishop Todd Fetters preached to the congregation that morning and prayed for the new pastor, Josh Good.

Among the persons being baptized was the mayor of Hillsdale. Said Smith:

I imagine this will be the last time you will be receiving any submissions from me. These are pics of the 8 baptisms we performed at my last HUB Service on May 20th. The Bishop delivered a great challenge to our congregation on praying for our new pastor, Josh Good.

The guy waving his arm from the baptistry tank is the mayor of Hillsdale.

“Ironically, the last time the Bishop spoke at the HUB was also the first time Mayor Adam Stockford attended our worship service. It was February 25 when we dedicated our new Children’s Wing. Mayor Stockford was one of our invited guests along with our state representative and state senator. He must have liked what he saw (or maybe it was the Bishop’s preaching), because he has continued coming with his family to worship at the HUB ever since. The mayor’s two sons were also baptized.”

He added, “His first public confession of faith was my final public act as HUB senior pastor. Nice way to go out!”

Les and Linda Smith in front of the lighthouse replica.

Lester Smith is retiring on June 1 after 38 years of United Brethren ministry, and 20 years as pastor of Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.).

On April 30, a Sunday evening, the Hillsdale congregation celebrated Les and Linda Smith with a retirement “roast.”

Smith writes, “The lighthouse on the platform behind my wife and I is a smaller size replica of the one they are having installed in honor of my almost 20 years of service at the HUB. A 12-foot lighthouse will be the centerpiece of a new playground that will replace the existing one in front of our church. It symbolizes a combination of my twin passions of spreading the gospel light to our community, and my love for ministry to children. I’m truly a blessed man to have served such a wonderful congregation. Their gift is both creative and inspiring! “

Children’s presentation on Easter Sunday at First UB.

Dan Maas (right), senior pastor, First UB Church (Findlay, Ohio)

First UB celebrated Good Friday with three separate services.

8:30 am: Totally Alone. Remembering the people who left Jesus to the authorities, and the forgiveness of Jesus towards those who left him behind.

Noon: Totally Abandoned. Remembering the dimming of the sun as the Father turned away from Jesus. We had a gradually dimming sanctuary eventually illuminated by only a small spotlight in the middle of the cross. A heartbeat in the dark commemorated the final pulses of hope in the world on that cross. The main theme was the determination of Jesus to finish the work of the cross through his death.

6:30 pm: Totally Accomplished. Celebrating the wonderful final words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished!” Our freedom from sin was accomplished with that holy sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb! This service was special for the lighted atmosphere, two pieces of special music, and many visitors to the church. We asked Dr. John Noble, from Huntington University, to provide us a Hebrew reading of Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12. We played the recording and then had a responsive reading by Craig and Becky Kupferberg. It was amazing to hear and experience what Jesus might have heard in the synagogue!

Easter Sunday continued the theme with two services: Totally Alive (Sunrise) and Totally Accepted (Christ welcoming the disciples on the beach in Galilee with breakfast). The children celebrated with a special presentation, the worship team shared a meaningful piece, and others found different ways to bring the new life in Jesus into focus.

Rocky Spear (right), senior pastor, Kilpatrick UB church (Woodland, Mich.)

On March 31, Kilpatrick Church sponsored our first Easter Eggs-travaganza. We are endeavoring to reach our “Jerusalem” (Woodland, Mich.).

It was a cold (30s), rainy, windy (gusts 30+ mph) kind of a day. Typical Michigan. 157 children were registered, along with 35 adults. Around 250 people showed up. Our volunteers were troopers as they set up refreshments, registration, and then distributed 5400 eggs for the children of our community.

Six bicycles and two tricycles were given away via drawing, and 40 prize eggs were in the mix. Fourteen families indicated they wanted more information about Kilpatrick Church.

Easter Sunday was well attended, with our largest number on record. The best part: three individuals chose to make Jesus Christ their Savior.

At the Good Friday service.

The worship team leading music at the joint Good Friday service.

Josh Kesler, pastor of The Well in Huntington, Ind., preaching at The Well on Easter Sunday.

Four United Brethren churches in Huntington, Ind., and surrounding areas held a joint Good Friday service on March 30 at Huntington University. Churches represented were College Park, Dillman, New Hope, and The Well. New Hope hosted a Stations of the Cross before the service. Matt Kennedy, pastor of Dillman, delivered the message. It was a great group effort and meaningful night.

South Scipio UB church (Harlan, Ind.)

Brad North, newly appointed senior pastor of South Scipio UB church (Harlan, Ind.), sent this note:

“What an amazing morning we had celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. An added celebration was this being my first Sunday as the pastor of this church.”

Fill out my online form.

Margaret Stadden (seated, left) with Rod and Melody Bittick.

Margaret Stadden has been a United Brethren member for 75 years, and at the same church: Pixley UB in Pixley, Calif. That must be some kind of record. On January 12, Margaret turned 100 years old, and the church honored her life, longevity, and service to the congregation.

Margaret became a member of Pixley UB in 1943 shortly after becoming a farmer’s wife and moving from Corcoran, Calif. Her three children, Karen, Richard and Julie, grew up in the church. Margaret was mostly involved in Christian education–Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and youth ministry–and held various offices in the local Women’s Missionary Association.

Margaret is a renowned cook; her baked goods have won prizes at the Tulare County Fair. She remains mentally sharp and active, continues living in her own home, and until recently, drove herself to church on Sunday mornings. More recently, she is only able to attend when one of her children brings her.

“Margaret has always been loving and supportive of me and my family,” says Rod Bittick who has pastored Pixley UB since 1985. “She has always been a supportive church member and personal friend to Melody and me, someone we can always rely on for emotional and spiritual support. Margaret is a remarkable woman, and it is a great honor to be her pastor.”

The Garnett UB church (Garnett, Kansas) closed as of December 31, 2017. The building is being sold to another church in town that needs a building. For 2016, the church reported an average attendance of just 6 persons, with 16 members.