L-r: Brandon Baker, Mark Self, Holly Lutton, and Matthew Hann.

Brandon Baker has been granted a provisional license effective July 3, 2017. He is the Discipleship and Youth pastor at Praise Point UB church (Willshire, Ohio).

Mark Self was granted ordination status in the United Brethren church upon recognition of his ordination in the Wesleyan Church effective July 21, 2017. He is senior pastor of Trinity UB church (Fostoria, Ohio).

Holly Lutton has been granted a Specialized Ministry license effective September 14, 2017, after having served one year with a Provisional license. She is the youth pastor at College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.).

Matthew Hann has been granted a Specialized Ministry license effective September 14, 2017, after having served one year with a Provisional license. He is the worship pastor at College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.).

Left: Senior pastor Teddy Fairchild with his wife, Sarah, and children. Right: Associate pastor Jason Haupert with his wife, Tonya, and children.

CrossLife Church will launch at 10:30 a.m. this Sunday, September 10, in Columbia City, Ind. A celebratory dinner will follow the service. Crosslife is a relaunch of the former Eagle Quest UB church, which was founded in 1997.

A series of difficulties placed Eagle Quest Church in crisis status in 2016. Rev. Teddy Fairchild was stationed as interim pastor that summer to restructure and rebuild. Through twelve long months of substantial change and hard work, the congregation worked toward a spiritually, administratively, and relationally healthier future.

Preparations for the Grand Opening have included improvements to the church facility and a massive promotional campaign in the community. Says Fairchild, “We are ready and positioned to hit the ground running Saturday, September 9, with our Community Presence Day. We have permission to take over a local park and pour into our local community. Then follow that up with our Grand Opening Sunday with a lunch to follow.”

Infused with a fresh sense of life and eager to re-engage with the community, conversations of re-launch and name change began among the revitalized congregation. Fairchild was formally stationed as the senior pastor and worked in partnership with denominational leaders to prepare for a re-launch.

Fairchild shared the vision behind the re-launch. “CrossLife developed from the desire to live for more. We know life is busy and messy and hard, and a simple one-hour church service isn’t going to fix that. People need more than clichés that crumble under the pressure of real-world problems, and Christ opens the way for the kind of meaningful, purposeful living we crave. That’s the message we want to live out on a daily basis in the Columbia City community.”

Teddy and Sarah Fairchild, and their two children, are joined by associate pastor Jason Haupert and his wife Tonya and two children. Jason was among those ordained in July 2017 during the US National Conference.

Crosslife is located at 1120 N. State Rd 109, Columbia City, Ind. 46725.

Dillman UB Church in Warren, Ind.

Dillman Church in Warren, Ind., has undergone an extensive sanctuary renovation. A public dedication service and open house will be begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 10. Bishop Todd Fetters will give a brief dedication message, and Pastor Matt Kennedy will then speak on the future of Dillman Church.

Following the service, at 11 am, a community Open House and Celebration begins with a hog roast lunch, bouncy house, dunk tank, and other outdoor games and activities for the whole family.

Changes to the sanctuary include expansion of the blueprint to include seating for 200+ people. Movable chairs will make the space adaptable for things like an open area for children’s programming or the inclusion of tables for small conferences. New carpet and lighting have been added, along with new audio-visual capabilities.

The sanctuary renovation is the first major renovation of the sanctuary since it was repaired after a storm in 1948. “The goal of this renovation is more than just modernization,” says Pastor Kennedy (right). “With the changes that have been made, we are equipped for future growth in order that we might meet the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s generations and better serve the surrounding community for many years to come.”

Dillman Church was established in 1889, and the sanctuary was dedicated on December 22 of that year with Bishop Milton Wright. In 1907, the structure was remodeled and included the installation of new flooring and roof as well as the rebuilding of the pulpit platform. A dedication service for that remodeling was held on November 3, 1907. In 1955, a basement and new entrance were added to the building, as well as a new indoor restroom. An extension that included a fellowship hall, kitchen facilities, and restrooms was added in 1977. Classroom space and church offices were added on in the mid 1990s.

Dillman Church is located at 8888 S 1100 W-90 in Warren, IN 46792.

Joseph and Mary Gomer

Joseph Gomer passed away on September 6, 1892. At that point, he and his wife, Mary, had served under the United Brethren mission board in Sierra Leone for 22 years, superintending our work there the entire time. They were very, very good years. “Within United Brethren mission history,” wrote David Datema in 2016 for a college paper, “the Gomers stand out as elite missionaries.”

We established mission work in Sierra Leone in 1857, but our early efforts were frustrating and virtually fruitless. When the Gomers arrived in January 1871, we had been without missionaries for two years and had almost pulled out altogether. But almost immediately after the Gomers arrived, the work took off. Later that first year came the conversion of the powerful local chief, Thomas Stephen Caulker, who had been a thorn in the side to missionaries. Caulker and others told the Gomers, “We now see that Christianity isn’t just a white man’s religion.”

You see, the Gomers were black–the first black United Brethren missionaries.

Joseph Gomer grew up on a farm near Battle Creek, Mich., and despite the prejudice of white classmates, managed to get some schooling. He served as a cook during the Civil War. After being honorably discharged in 1865, he boarded a riverboat headed for Dayton, Ohio. On board he met a widow named Mary Green, who was also a gifted singer. After reaching Dayton, they were married. Joseph found work as a carpet layer, and later worked as a foreman in a mercantile house. He and Mary became leaders in Third United Brethren Church, a predominantly black congregation in Dayton which Miami Conference had started in 1858 as a mission project.

The Gomers applied for missionary service, but were initially rejected. Historian and former bishop William Hanby implied that their race had something to do with it, but it may have been more a case of Gomer not being a minister and lacking in education. Whatever the case, the Mission board was urged to reconsider the Gomers.

Joseph Gomer was perfect. He was a diplomat, a teacher, a peacemaker among the warring tribes. He became highly respected, and umpired many disputes among the Africans. He taught farming methods, which were applied on the mission’s 40-acre farm (produce, over 5000 coffee and cocoa trees, plus some animals). In 1875, he organized the first United Brethren church in Sierra Leone.

History writers note their abilities, their dedication to the work, and their spiritual fervor. But they also cite the Gomers’ skin color as a crucial difference-maker.

According to David Datema, the Gomers went to Africa during a window of time in the 1800s during which white Christians were open to sending blacks as missionaries–but a window which didn’t stay open long. Datema wrote, “For black Americans serving under white mission boards, signs of racism were prevalent and included lower pay, longer terms, shorter and less frequent furloughs, less promotion, and less educational benefits offered to their children.” Eventually, American mission boards reverted to preferring white missionaries.

Datema noted that the longest term served during that period by a white UB missionary was 3.5 years, compared to terms of six, six, and ten years for the Gomers. Two other African-American UB missionaries appointed during this time were sent for at least five-year terms. So there’s something there. But the Gomers’ longevity in superintending the field–over 20 years–does speak to the confidence placed in them by the UB Mission board.

By 1892, Joseph Gomer’s health was failing and he was planning to retire as mission superintendent. He and Mary had gone to Freetown with a couple who were sailing back to America. At the end of the day, wrote historian J. S. Mills, “in less than an hour Mr. Gomer was seized with apoplexy, and before medical help arrived, though delayed but a few minutes, the soul of the good man had gone to God.”

Mary Gomer stayed in Sierra Leone until 1894, and then returned to the States, where she died on December 1, 1896.

David Datema wrote of Joseph Gomer, “He was without doubt the one missionary that rescued the United Brethren mission from almost certain failure….It is doubtful whether the United Brethren have since produced a better missionary….Today in Sierra Leone, the signature work of the Gomers lives on in thousands of lives who have never heard of them.”

Rev. B. O. and Margaret Hazzard

Rev. B. O. Hazzard was born around 1872, and felt God calling him to Africa. He originally served in the Congo, but repeated malaria attacks forced him to return to America. There, he met and married Margaret Muirhead, a Scottish-born woman whose parents had immigrated in 1880 and started a farm in Ohio. They were married on August 15, 1900, in Portage, Ohio.

Both B. O. and Margaret felt God calling them to missionary service. They ended up going with the United Brethren in Christ, sailing from New York on September 31 (just six weeks after their wedding) and arriving in Sierra Leone on November 14. His job was to build a girls’ home at the Danville station in Gbangbaia for the Women’s Missionary Association–what would eventually become the Minnie Mull School for Girls. Margaret would care for the children residing there.

Mission director Daniel Flickinger wrote, “Mr. Hazzard did well in managing business matters and in holding meetings and getting the people aroused to a sense of duty. Some were converted and brought into the service of the Master through his labors.”

Margaret became paralyzed in July 1901 and, a few weeks later, was taken to Freetown. Since the hospital couldn’t treat her, Rev. Hazzard put her on a steamship bound for England. They had been married just 11 months. It was the last time they would see each other.

Margaret arrived in Liverpool on September 4 and was soon diagnosed with berri berri, which affects the nerves. She began nearly two years of hospitalization. Meanwhile Rev. Hazzard kept working. The school was ready for occupancy in December 1901. The plan was for him to eventually travel to Scotland to be reunited with his wife. But that never happened. He was stricken with blackwater fever, and died in Gbangbaia in July 1902.

According to George Fleming, Margaret spent a total of 21 months hospitalized, until the spring of 1903, followed by six months of continued recuperation with relatives in Scotland. Of the little we know of Margaret after that, it doesn’t include Sierra Leone. She apparently returned to Ohio and, in 1930, at age 56, married a Missouri farmer named Thomas Grubb. It appears that she died in Ohio on August 12, 1957, and was buried in Cuyahoga County, Ohio; census data lists her husband, Thomas Grubb, as a carpenter in building construction.

Although the Hazzards’ time in Sierra Leone was very short, it lives on through the Minnie Mull School, which over the years has touched the lives of thousands of Sierra Leonean girls.

Henry Barkley, bishop 1897-1913.

On September 3, 1879, Henry Barkley, age 21, was granted a United Brethren annual conference license to preach. Eight days later, he married Ida Masters, a young girl he had met in a store. They began pastoring circuits of churches in North Ohio Conference. In 1881, he was ordained by Bishop Jacob John Glossbrenner.

Barkley’s parents married in 1847 and settled in northeastern Indiana. They birthed four daughters, and finally got a son, Henry, on March 19, 1858. In 1866, at the end of the Civil War, the family moved to northwestern Ohio.

There is anecdotal evidence that young Henry, consistent with being the only boy, was somewhat of a spoiled brat–prideful, hot-headed, and prone to fighting. But he was smart, got a decent (for the time) education, and ever-so-gradually, through the influence of various ministers, journeyed toward Christ. He was converted on February 2, 1875, under the ministry of a Church of God pastor. But UBs had played a role in his journey, too. In 1876, he transferred to the United Brethren church in West Unity, Ohio. And with the UBs he stayed for the rest of his life.

Henry and Ida found themselves drawn to the West. In 1882, they accepted a UB pastorate in Denver, Colorado. But that didn’t work out. Seven months later, they were back in Ohio. But in 1888, they moved to Oregon, and that’s where they spent the rest of their days.

Henry quickly distinguished himself. He led revival meetings in places where they were launching new churches. Bishop William Dillon once commented, “No man in Oregon could draw a larger crowd.” He was elected as a presiding elder in 1880, and during the next few years, oversaw the construction of five church buildings.

Lynn Newbraugh wrote in his chapter on Barkley in United Brethren Bishops, Volume 1, “Barkley also expended great effort to guide the pastors under his care, much like a father with his son. Throughout his career, he took time to praise the efforts of each individual. Yet, he was no flatterer. When one of his pastors erred, Barkley was quick to correct him.”

Newbraught added, “He treated subordinates as equals and equals as superiors.”

In 1894, Barkley took on two new roles: he was elected president of the United Brethren college in Philomath, Oregon; and he was elected to the first of two terms in the Oregon legislature. His oratorical skills and principled leadership served him well in politics. He often presided over legislative sessions and acquired the power to make or break bills. His reputation grew to the point that both state Senators–a Democrat and a Republican–said they would campaign for him if he ran for the US Congress. But after two terms, he said goodbye to politics. He wanted to focus solely on his First Love, the Church.

In 1897, Barkley, age 39, began 16 years as a United Brethren bishop. He was initially elected, by a vote of 33-10, in place of incumbent William Dillon. For the first eight years, Barkley served alongside Milton Wright, Horace Barnaby, and Halleck Floyd, who had served together as bishops since 1889 and would continue in that role until 1905.

Barkley was assigned to the Pacific district, and in the years ahead, helped bring a Chinese school in Portland under our supervision in 1898 (it would later become our bridge to China), in 1899 helped found Edwards College in Albion, Wash.; and oversaw establishing the Idaho Mission Conference in 1901.

Bishops Wright, Barnaby, and Floyd got into a nasty dispute about the publishing house; it went on for several years. Everything came to a head at the 1905 General Conference. Barkley, who had stayed out of it, ended up presiding over large portions of the conference. In the end, the leadership slate was wiped practically clean–Wright, Barnaby, and Floyd, along with three other denominations officials, were not re-elected. Only Barkley remained–jumping immediately from junior bishop to senior bishop.

Despite his now-central role, Barkley chose to continue living in Oregon. But he had to make many trips back to the denominational office in Huntington, Ind., and to other points in the East. Thank God for trains.

In 1909, representatives from the Liberal United Brethren church, from which we had split in 1889, attended General Conference with an invitation to reunite the two groups. Perhaps, now that Milton Wright was out of the picture, they thought we might be positive toward the idea. Henry Becker, using his well-honed spontaneous eloquence, said, “I welcome these brethren and their greetings, which cheer my heart.” But he concluded, “When we can agree on doctrine, we can take care of the policy and polity.” And thus, he very diplomatically slammed shut the door for reuniting the two groups.

Barkley stepped down from the bishopric in 1913. His concluding years were frustrating to him. The churches in Oregon were in decline, sorely in need of capable ministers, and the two colleges, at Philomath and Albion, suffered financial hardship.

Plus, his fragile health plummeted. In 1894, the same year Barkley was elected to the Oregon legislature, he got food poisoning while eating at a restaurant in Butler, Ind. (a woman at a nearby table died). He was quite sick for the next two years, and never fully recovered; he was plagued by sickness for the rest of his life. During those final four years as bishop, Barkley suffered a series of small strokes which left him partly paralyzed on his left side. Nevertheless, he delivered 300 addresses during those four years, a number topped by only one other bishop.

Barkley had been suggesting that they drop from four bishops to three bishops. When he stepped down in 1913, the General Conference did just that, choosing not to replace him.

Henry and Ida Barkley continued living in Oregon for what became a very brief retirement. Henry became seriously ill in November 1914, and was bed-bound from mid-December until his death on March 7, 1915.

William Dillon wrote of Barkley, “No preacher on the Pacific Coast was ever more loved, or will be more lamented.

Isaac and Sarah Hor

On September 2, 1992, a Chinese United Brethren church opened in Toronto, Ontario. The service was held on a Sunday afternoon at the Bloem Avenue (now New Hope) UB church in Toronto. The pastor was Phil Burkett. He and his family had recently concluded four years of ministry in Macau, so they knew plenty about reaching Chinese people and could speak the language.

In North America, Toronto’s Chinese population ranked second only to New York City’s. A large percentage had emigrated from Hong Kong, the exodus spurred by the specter of 1997 and by Canada’s comparatively lenient immigration policies. The immigrants tended to be financially secure; many retained businesses in Hong Kong and shuttled back and forth.

The vision for a Chinese ministry at Toronto had existed for a while. Just two years before, the conference had embedded Chinese ministry into a long-range plan, and Phil Burkett was appointed pastor in 1991 with the expressed purpose of making it happen.

In April 1992, the Toronto church sent letters to about 20 Chinese Christian contacts in the greater Toronto area, telling about the ministry-in-the-works. The next day, Phil Burkett received a call from Stephen Chan. He and his wife were members of St. Luke’s UB church in Hong Kong before moving to Canada 20 years before. Chan was excited about starting a Chinese church in Toronto.

The Burketts and Chans got together in May 1992. The Chans mentioned a Hong Kong pastor, Isaac Hor (pronounced HAW), who had been ordained in the Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Hor had moved to Canada about the same time the Burketts did with the intention of planting a Chinese church. That project didn’t pan out, so he was seeking a new ministry in Toronto.

How convenient. The Hor family—Isaac, wife Sarah, and their two children—attended Bloem Avenue UB on May 31 and met with members of the Chinese Planning Committee. The Ontario Conference not only approved him, but agreed to fund his support for a six-month trial. Hor officially started on July 1, 1992.

“Statistics show that a newly-arrived Chinese person has a much higher likelihood of coming to Christ than a multiple-generation North American,” wrote Phil Burkett in the United Brethren magazine. “Chinese churches in Toronto are growing (some say exploding) at an unbelievable rate. New Chinese churches spring up almost weekly.”

After that opening service on September 2, the church launched an English Language Program similar to what the Burketts helped found in Macau. Classes started September 14 and ran through December 2, with 6-8 students. A second term drew 10-12 students. Teachers came from both the English-speaking congregation and the Chinese congregation. In October 1992, a group of seven persons from the New York Chinese church drove up to help with an evangelistic outreach.

Turns out the Bloem Avenue church was too far from where most Chinese lived. So in September 1993, they relocated to a junior high school about 25 miles away on the northeast side of metro Toronto in an area densely populated by Chinese; a couple families in the core group already lived there. The Hor family moved to a townhouse near the school. Services were held in the school cafeteria.

The English Language Program started up on September 20, 1993, this time drawing 40 students—an excellent enrollment.

After six years in Toronto, the Burketts left in 1996, when Phil became Minister of Music at College Park UB in Huntington, Ind. The Toronto Chinese church closed in 2002. Isaac Hor returned to Hong Kong in July 2002 to minister with a Lutheran church.

Dr. Leslie and Mary Huntley and children. The Huntleys served in Sierra Leone until November 1941, shortly before the Pearl Harbor bombing brought America into World War II. Dr. Huntley entered the US Army in 1943 as a medical officer with the rank of captain, and served in Panama, India, and China.

On September 1, 1934, Dr. Leslie and Mary Huntley arrived as UB missionaries in Sierra Leone. He was our first licensed doctor.

Dr. Huntley graduated from Huntington College and received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska. He and his fiancée, Mary Bergdall of Claytonville, Ill., committed themselves to fulltime missionary work during the same service at Huntington College, along with four other persons who would eventually serve in Sierra Leone–Martha Anna Bard, Emma Hyer, Erma (Burton) Carlson, and Charles Saufley. The Huntleys were married, and left for Sierra Leone one month later.

It was a low time for the mission. Financial support from America had fallen off—we were in the Great Depression—and several stations had been closed. George and Daisy Fleming had concluded their missionary work in 1932, turning leadership over to Clarence Carlson. But he took a desperately needed furlough in 1934. That left just Abbie Swales, a veteran missionary who was in charge of the Minnie Mull Home for Girls in Bonthe.

Dr. Huntley, a rookie missionary, found himself in charge of the entire mission—churches, schools, dispensary…everything. It was a lot of responsibility for a first-term missionary, but he proved up to the task.

The Huntleys, married for just a month, mind you, made a very charitable decision—that Mary would relocate to Bonthe to assist Abbie Swales until new recruits arrived. Dr. Huntley toiled alone at Gbangbaia, with the help of some national workers. In addition to preparing the dispensary and treating patients, he visited villages to see pastors and teachers.

It took six months to get the dispensary ready. New buildings were constructed at the Danville Station, and old ones were renovated. All the while, Huntley was treating patients in a limited capacity. The dispensary officially opened around April 1935. Huntley reported that by June, he had treated 1,035 patients. He wrote years later, “I was never able to administer treatment to everyone who came to the dispensary on any given day. We worked from early morning until late at night, but we just could not see them all.”

Reinforcements finally arrived in January 1936: Rev. Earl and Ruth Ensminger and daughter, from Greencastle, Pa. Both were ordained ministers with degrees from Huntington College. They took up residence in Bonthe, enabling Mary Huntley to finally live with and work alongside her husband for the first time in 16 months. On September 27, 1936, baby Carolyn Huntley arrived. Do the math.


Israel Sloane

When we started a mission organization in 1853, it was called the Home, Frontier, and Foreign Missionary Society. Rev. Israel Sloane pulled a trifecta. Before his tragic death at age 39 on August 31, 1863, he served in all three realms–the home front, the frontier, and in a foreign country. But not in that order.

Sloane started out as a United Brethren minister in southern Ohio. In October 1854, the Board of Missions sent him as a missionary to Canada. A non-UB minister named John Cornell (from the Cornell University family), who had been a minister in Ontario for over 40 years, was retiring and wanted to bring his churches under the United Brethren umbrella. Sloane became pastor of Cornell’s church in Sheffield, Ontario. Soon, several other ministers came up from the States.

In 1856, Bishop Jacob Glossbrenner organized the Canada Mission Conference with seven organized churches, 18 preaching points, nine licensed ministers, and 152 members. Growth came quickly. By 1863, membership had hit 1000.

But Israel Sloane stuck around for just four years. In 1858, the Board of Missions sent him to California. Sloane and his family traveled by ship from New York to San Francisco (it took 24 days), and rode a steamer up a river to Sacramento. Before leaving New York, Sloane wrote a letter to the editor of the denominational publication, The Religious Telescope.

“Even up to the present time, I feel more attached to and more concerned about the work in Canada than any other place to which I have ever been appointed. I would still love to labor in Canada, but I am reminded that the field is the world; and while we have a number of good missionaries in Canada…California is without one of our missionaries.”

That’s how he saw himself—as a missionary. He had done the Home (Ohio) and Foreign (Canada) parts. Now he was off to the Frontier (California).

On December 10, Sloane wrote, “I have been in California 40 days and I preached 23 times. A few souls have been converted and reclaimed.”

Three months later, Sloane was the single father of three kids; his wife died on March 2, 1859, of tuberculosis. But in May 1860, after an eight-week trip to the East, he returned to California with a new wife. The work continued to expand, with Sloane leading the way. In 1861, he had the joy of seeing the 1861 General Conference organize the California Mission Conference. First Canada, now California.

On June 23, 1863, Sloane began the journey to visit some troubled churches in the Sacramento Valley. He spent one night at a home near Knoxville. He put his horse in the coral with a mustang, which proceeded to kick his horse in the leg, breaking it. Another horse was available. He had misgivings about it, but was assured the horse would be safe to ride.

As he descended the Cache Creek Mountains, the horse began running down the steep grade. Sloane couldn’t stop the horse, and couldn’t jump off, lest he tumble down a precipice. He was thrown at the bottom of the hill, where he was eventually found, seriously injured. He was taken 35 miles to a home, where he spent the next three weeks recovering from his injuries. He then continued on to the Sacramento Valley. But he was not well.

His new wife was worried when he didn’t arrive back when expected. Had Indians got him (there were stories of ministers dodging arrows during their trips)? Had he tangled with highwaymen, as often happened? She finally received a letter from Israel saying he was coming home…but he didn’t come. He sent another letter on August 1, saying he would start the return journey on August 6. But she waited in vain. He never mentioned his physical problems.

Around midnight on August 30, a rider approached the home and knocked on the door. He told Mrs. Sloane that her husband had arrived in Eureka on a steamboat, sick and near death, and had been carried into a hotel. She reached his side at 4 a.m., and was with him when he died shortly thereafter.

The work in California was sorely lacking in workers, and now they had lost their leader. Some voices suggested we pull out and leave California to the many other churches ministering there. But Bishop Daniel Shuck, who had pastored for four years in California, disagreed. During a six-month visit to California during the spring and summer of 1864, he rallied and revived the demoralized church. He discovered that many people were attracted to the United Brethren positions against slavery and freemasonry, and didn’t feel comfortable in other churches which had made room for both.

Shuck wrote:

“While other denominations have been troubled, perplexed, and torn in pieces in adjusting themselves to the varied and ever-changing demands of pros-slaveryism, the United Brethren in Christ, though little and seemingly unknown, always maintained with a scripturally enlightened conscientious firmness her anti-slavery principles, in theory and practice. And now, while the moral tone of pubic sentiment is being purified so as to demand non-fellowship with slavery in the civil compact, and many churches are making sudden revolutions and are wheeling into the ranks and are spreading the fact of their conversion to the four winds to catch the gale, the United Brethren in Christ are marching straight along, rejoicing to know that the world moves, and that the move is now in the right direction.”

Titus and Debbie Boggs

Rev. Titus J. Boggs passed away on August 29, 2011, in Harlan, Kent. He was 61 years old.

Titus served as director of Laurel Mission for 30 years, 1980-2010. He was described as “a big man with a big heart.” Hundreds of United Brethren, on short-term trips to Laurel Mission, fell in love with this man. And they all heard and loved the same stories. Like the one about Chief Running Bear and his daughter Falling Rock, who got lost in the mountains and was never found. That’s why, Titus would conclude deadpan, many signs along the roads said, “Watch for Falling Rock.”

Titus would hold a straight face for several seconds, but then slowly crack a sly grin, and people would know they’d been had.

Titus loved the Lord deeply, and loved the people who lived up and down Greasy Creek.

When Titus was born in 1950, both of his parents, Alvin and Ruth Boggs, worked for Laurel Mission. Alvin grew up there, born just three miles down the road from the current mission house. Ruth, who grew up in the Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich., arrived in 1943 as a missionary teacher. Alvin returned from the Army in 1946, and he and Ruth were married that August.

“Being a preacher’s kid, I was expected to live a certain way,” Titus once said. “I was religious on the outside, but I didn’t have a change of heart until my freshman year of high school. Some wonderful, godly teachers were a great influence on my life.”

Titus and Debbie, an Iowa girl, met at Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute. They married in 1973, and spent the next year at Asbury College, where Titus majored in Bible and social work. After that, Titus worked a year in the Public Assistance Office in Lexington. And then they moved back “home,” serving as dorm parents at Pine Mountain Settlement School, where Titus attended grades 1-9 and where his father worked.

In August 1980, Bishop Raymond Waldfogel came for a visit. Titus had been assistant pastor under mission superintendent M. E. Burkett. Now the Burketts were leaving. Would Titus and Debbie take their place? Titus said no; he and a partner had just started a little coal mine and bought a coal truck. But he kept thinking about it. And when Bishop Waldfogel asked again in December, Titus said, “We’ll give it a try.” They moved into the almost-new parsonage in January 1981.

In October 2010, Titus went on medical leave as director of Laurel Mission–he had suffered from diabetes and other physical problems–but he continued as senior pastor of Little Laurel Bible Church. His son, Nathan, who had been serving as the mission’s youth pastor, became executive director of Laurel Mission on October 8, 2010. Debbie Boggs, wife of Titus, became the new associate director of Laurel Mission.