New Beginnings UB church (Montpelier, Ohio) closed as of August 26, 2018. They will auction their buildings and property, with the proceeds going toward UB church multiplication. This church was founded in 1869. Richard Thorp had been the supply pastor since 2010.

Crosslife UB church (Columbia City, Ind.) closed September 28, 2018. This church began in 1997 as a church planting project of the Center for Church Planting in Northeast Indiana, a cooperative venture of Central and Michindoh conferences. The church used the name Eagle Quest until 2017, when they undertook a relaunch and rebranding under the leadership of Rev. Teddy Fairchild.

Maranatha UB church (Perrinton, Mich.) closed as of September 30, 2018. They are selling their property and donating the proceeds to a 501(c)3 of their choosing. This church was founded in 1878. Larry Mepham had been the pastor since 2011.

Fresh Spring (formerly Living Word UB of Columbus, Ohio) voted unanimously on October 7, 2018, to withdraw from the denomination. They had been meeting at a new location where they decided to join with another group. This church began in 1968 when the congregation, formerly part of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, affiliated with us rather than join the merger into the United Methodist Church. Back then, the church’s name was Redeemer United Brethren Church.

Liberty UB Church (Stockport, Ohio) will celebrate its 150th anniversary on Sunday, October 14. Bishop Todd Fetters is the guest speaker for the 10:30 a.m. worship service.

The next Sunday, October 21, Bishop Fetters will speak at another anniversary–the 20th anniversary of Anchor UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Mark and Ruth Ralph, retiring after 43 years in ministry.

Pastor Mark Ralph speaking to children.

Mark Ralph with his father.

On Saturday, September 29, a retirement party was held for Pastor Mark and Ruth Ralph, who have served in pastoral ministry since 1975. Of those 43 years, all but about ten years were spent at United Brethren churches.

The celebration was held at Mt. Zion UB church in Wayne, Ohio, the congregation the Ralphs have served since 2012. Here are the other UB churches:

  • 1975-1981: Brown Corners UB church (Clare, Mich.).
  • 1983-1986: the UB church in Charlotte, Mich.
  • 1986-1989: UB church planter in Birmingham, Ala.
  • 1997-2009: Sunfield UB church (Sunfield, Mich.).
  • 2012 to the present: Mt. Zion UB church (Wayne, Ohio).

Some folks from Mark’s previous pastorates attended the retirement celebration. Also present was his father, now age 96, a longtime minister in the Evangelical Congregational Church. Mark was present for his father’s last Sunday in fulltime ministry. His father returned the favor on September 30, hearing his son preach his final sermon as pastor of Mt. Zion.

Mark graduated in 1974 from Huntington University with a degree in Bible & Religion. Now age 67, he and Ruth are retiring to a home in Ohio City, Ohio, near where their daughter lives.

Nancy Hull N’Gele, a UB missionary in Sierra Leone 1957-1970, is moving from Michigan to Huntington, Ind. She has been a longtime resident of Carson City, Mich., living in a home on the Carson City Campground.

Mt. Hope UB church in Carson City will host a reception for Nancy 2-5 pm on Sunday, September 23, 2018. Anyone is invited to attend to recognize the life and service of this former missionary.

Dawn and Jay Spangler

The York Daily Record published an article about the Strinestown UB church, which on November 4 will celebrate its 125th anniversary.

The article gives the church’s interesting history, including how the current building was built during World War II on the foundation of an old cigar factory, and used wood recycled from that factory. Up to that point, the church had been called Mt. Pleasant Union Chapel. Upon dedication of the church on April 23, 1944, it became Strinestown United Brethren church.

The article recounts the many other changes made to the church over the years.

Strinestown is one of the few United Brethren churches in the United States with a female senior pastor. Dawn Spangler, ordained in 2002 as a minister in the Nazarene Church, has been the pastor at Strinestown since May 2012. She and her husband, Jay, were married 57 years before his death in 2016.

Left: Pastor Rod Bittick outside the Pixley UB church. Right: the sanctuary.

On Monday, July 30, Bishop Todd Fetters visited the Pixley United Brethren church in Pixley, Calif. This church, founded in 1883, is now the only United Brethren church in California.

Rod and Melody Bittick have served the Pixley congregation since 1985, and are among the longest-tenured UB pastoral couples at the same church. Both came out of the former Hillsdale UB church in Sacramento, when former bishop Ron Ramsey was the pastor.

Rod graduated from Huntington University in 1976, and from its Graduate School of Christian Ministries in 1977.

Of note: George Weaver, who was bishop 1969-1977, grew up in the Pixley area and became a Christian at the Pixley UB church in 1943.

Pastor Keith Elliott (front, right) and the group from Criders UB church.

Keith Elliott, senior pastor, Criders UB Church (Chambersburg, Pa.)

A group from Crider’s Church recently returned from a short mission trip to Laurel Mission in the mountains outside Harlan, Kent. We have been going to Laurel Mission every other year since 2014. This trip was extra special because we partnered with our sister church, Mt. Olivet UB (Chambersburg).

While at Laurel Mission, we spent two days on a variety of work projects. One group installed a new bathtub in a person’s home. Other groups finished building two porches started by others who had recently been to the mission. We painted a porch for a widow in the community. Some in our group helped sort clothing for the mission’s clothing center. Others painted, pressure washed, and helped in any way they could. While at the worksites, we spent time talking with and praying for the people who lived there.

On Sunday, July 15, we worshiped at Little Laurel Bible Church, took a challenging hike to a local waterfall, and drove to the top of one of the mountains to take in the mountaintops as the sun began to set.

Nathan Boggs, the Director of Laurel Mission, his wife Lindsey, their children, and his mom Debbie work tirelessly to minister to the people of the area. It was truly a blessing to be a part of the work God is doing through Laurel Mission.

Pastor Kevin Whitacre (blue shirt) with baptism candidates and persons assisting.

Watching from the shore.

One of the baptism candidates.

Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) baptized nine persons on Sunday, July 9. After the morning service at the church, the congregation traveled to the home of an Anchor family for the annual all-church outing. The event began with the baptisms, followed by a meal, and then an afternoon of swimming, volleyball, and general fun.

The Mt. Olivet sanctuary.

Portraying circuit-riding bishop Christian Newcomer.

Memories posted on a bulletin board.

Mt. Olivet UB church (Mt. Solon, Va.) recently celebrated 125 years of ministry during its annual Homecoming service. The day’s events included a video message from Bishop Todd Fetters, recollections and testimonies from former pastors, special music, a portrayal of circuit riding preacher Christian Newcomer, a catered meal of barbequed pork and chicken, a display of many old photographs and stories from the past, the opening of a time capsule, a reading of the names of the veterans in the cemetery and taps on the bugle, and wonderful memories share with each other.

We thank God for a fantastic day of worship and fellowship, and look forward to what God has in store for the future.

At the YFC center in Beirut

College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.) has begun a partnership with YFC Lebanon and their work. A team of eight persons traveled May 31 to work with YFC targeting 12-18 year-olds.

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.