On June 3, 1991, Rev. Marvin D. Price was doing one of the things he enjoyed most: fishing. He was by himself out in a boat on a lake where he had fished many times before, a lake near Warsaw, Ind. But tragedy struck this day. Pastor Price fell out of the boat and, unable to swim, he drowned. Several people watching from the shore were unable to help him in time. Some think he may have had a heart attack.

Marvin Price was known much more as a fisher of men than as a fisher of fish. While he took up fishing in the 1980s, he had developed a passion for soul-winning decades before. It was not a hobby, or something to be done occasionally or when the opportunity arose. Rather, for Marvin Price, leading people to Christ was a consuming priority.

Marvin grew up in the home of Rev. Homer and Amanda Price, who served 16 United Brethren pastorates, the longest lasting just four years. Of those, 11 were church plants. He recalled, “My father’s zealous use of spiritual gifts enabled him to establish congregations quickly where there were none. Personal evangelism and crusade evangelism were both major parts of his ministry.”

When Marvin was in second grade, the family pulled a mobile home from church to church conducting evangelistic and revival meetings. Marvin attended 17 different schools that year. “I never fought church attendance,” he wrote in the November 1993 UB newsletter. “It was central to my life.”

While still a teenager, Marvin was assisting his father on the platform and in other areas of leadership. He began preaching at age 16. While a sophomore at Huntington College, he returned to Hillsdale, Mich., to preach a crusade and 35 people accepted Christ.

Marvin pastored two different churches while attending Huntington College. There, he met Grace Ann Graham, who grew up in the Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich. They were married in 1955. Their first UB pastorate was in Topeka, Kansas. After three years there, they were assigned to the Orange Avenue congregation in San Diego, Calif., where they enjoyed a very fruitful six-year ministry.

That was followed by 14 years of exciting growth at First UB in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. During that time, he reported 1745 people who came to Christ. Many people from that church went into fulltime ministry—the pastorate, missions, parachurch organizations, Huntington College, and other areas. Marvin’s sister, Ruth Ann Price, attended First UB while teaching school in Lake Havasu City. She left in 1969 to begin a career as a Wycliffe missionary. Marvin’s oldest daughter, Debbie Price Osberg, would eventually become a missionary in Honduras.

In 1981, the Prices began an eight-and-a-half year ministry at the Morning Star church in Kokomo, Ind. After that, the Prices moved to Spencerville, Ohio, to pastor the Monticello UB church. They were there just 18 months when the fishing accident occurred—but during that time, at least 41 people accepted Christ. During Marvin’s last service at Monticello, a young man was commissioned to ministry and received his local conference license.

Marvin wrote in 1993, “I have understood my call to be a divine one, a distinct honor and privilege….I remain in awe of the high and holy calling of having been set apart by my heavenly Father as one of His under-shepherds.”

Olin Alwood (left) and Harold Mason.

Olin Alwood (left) and Harold Mason.

Two bishops passed away on June 2–Olin Alwood in 1945, and Harold Mason in 1964. Both completed their careers outside of the United Brethren Church.

Olin Alwood served 16 years as bishop, 1905-1921. However, it’s his father, Rev. J. K. Alwood, that we remember. J. K. wrote the hymn, “The Unclouded Day.”

Olin Alwood, born in 1870, attended Hartsville College, a United Brethren school in southern Indiana, and dedicated his life to Christ there in 1889. After teaching school for three years in Nebraska, he became a licensed United Brethren minister and was assigned to the Sugar Grove circuit near Camden, Mich. He went on to serve several other circuits in Ohio and Michigan, and by 1903 had become the presiding elder in North Ohio Conference.

At the time, we had four bishops, three of whom retired in 1905. Alwood, 34, was among the new bishops elected that year. After 16 years as bishop, serving a different district every four years, he became editor of the denominational paper, The Christian Conservator. He apparently found that job frustrating. He stepped down from that role in 1925 and said no to being re-elected as bishop.

In 1927, Alwood transferred into the “other” United Brethren Church. He pastored several churches with them until passing away suddenly in 1945.

Harold Mason graduated from Huntington College in 1907 (called Central College back then) and was assigned to a church circuit in Hillsdale County, Mich. It went badly. After a year, the boy preacher left the ministry for a few years. But he regained a sense of calling to the ministry and plunged back in. The result: eight very successful years at two churches–in Blissfield, Mich., and Montpelier, Ohio.

That success got him elected bishop in 1921. He served four years, and that was apparently enough. The rest of his life was devoted mostly to higher education–four years at Adrian College as a professor and academic dean, three years as superintendent of schools in Blissfield, seven years as as president of Huntington College (1932-1939), Professor of Christian Education at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and from 1948-1961, chairman of the Department of Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. He passed away on June 2, 1964.

wjshuey500-withnameOn June 1, 1854, the newly-created United Brethren mission board–the Home, Frontier, and Foreign Missionary Society–met in Westerville, Ohio. Their first action was a big one: “Resolved, That we send one or more missionaries to Africa as soon as practicable.”

They appointed Rev. W. J. Shuey, pastor of a UB church in Cincinnati, as the first missionary to Africa. As a minister in Scioto Conference (southern Ohio), Shuey had been beating the drum for mission work for some time. Scioto had formed its own Home Missionary Society on May 8, 1838, to take the Gospel to “destitute” parts of the conference. But they were also thinking about countries beyond North America. Other conferences formed similar groups.

Back then, the American frontier continually pushed westward, and there was a lot of unreached territory. So when folks raised the idea of foreign missions, people argued that we had more than enough opportunities at home. But other denominations had launched mission work in other countries, and we felt some peer pressure. Maybe, we thought, the United Brethren Church should be looking overseas, too–Africa, China, Europe, and elsewhere.

In 1841, General Conference created a denominational Missionary Society to take the Gospel not only to the American frontier, but to “the heathens in foreign lands.” Persons were appointed to a mission board, but their purpose must have been too vague, because after four years, they had done nothing. The 1845 General Conference appointed another board, but as historian William McKee wrote, “It did nothing, it undertook nothing.” Likewise in 1849.

Finally, in 1853, they got serious. General Conference not only appointed a mission board, but also adopted a constitution, elected a board, and chose officers with specific duties.

Where should they go first? Everyone agreed they should go where the need was greatest. India and China were among the countries mentioned. But they settled on Africa, and specifically Sierra Leone. That fall, Shuey and two other men set sail for Sierra Leone to spy out the land.

They found opportunities for ministry in the city of Freetown, where other groups were also ministering, but that didn’t appeal to them. McKee wrote, “They were unwilling to build on another man’s foundation. Hence, they determined to go out into some darker place and hold forth the lamp of life.” So they headed to the southern part of the country and found locations where nobody else was spreading the Gospel.

Oliver and Mahala Hadley, missionaries to Sierra Leone, 1866-1869

Oliver and Mahala Hadley, missionaries to Sierra Leone, 1866-1869

In 1938, former Sierra Leone missionaries George and Daisy Fleming visited UB churches on the West Coast. In Dayton, Wash., they met Mrs. Mary Wilson. In 1866, when she was 14 months old, Mary was left in the care of her grandmother in Indiana while her parents, Oliver and Mahala Hadley, left for Sierra Leone.

Mary hardly knew her father, because he died just a few days after returning from Africa. Nor did she know her sister Ida, who died in Sierra Leone six weeks after being born, or her infant brother, who died ten days after her father. But she had her father’s journal, written in longhand. She presented it to George Fleming because she thought the Missions department should have it.

Hadley’s first entry of 1867, written on January 3 just a few weeks after their arrival in Sierra Leone, said, “Oh, when shall I see some of these men converted? I cannot rest until I hear some of them glorify God for the salvation of their souls. The Gospel is the power of God, and I look for a manifestation of that power here.”

The journal entry for May 31, 1867, included a message for Mary. It was her second birthday.

I feel happy this morning that the Lord ever gave [Mary Elizabeth] to us. Oh that we could have her with us. I think of her more than usual since little Ida’s departure. My dear child Mary, we will roast a fowl and celebrate your birthday, though we are far away in a strange land. We may never see you again, but I hope you may read these lines if you live and know that I love you, my dear child, with a peculiar love. The Lord be merciful to you, my dear child. I have prayed that I may live with you in the everlasting Kingdom of Christ. I leave you in His hands.

Mary passed away February 5, 1942, in Dayton, Wash.

You can read more about the Hadleys here.

Bishop Todd Fetters will lead an Online Regional Review meeting to discuss the upcoming US National Conference and review items of business which will come before the conference. This is especially designed for ministers and lay delegates who were unable to attend one of the regional meetings held during May in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Date: Monday, June 5, 2017
Time: 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm.

The meeting will cover the same ground that the three geographic meetings covered during May. Dr. Luke Fetters and Mark Vincenti will present the proposals from the Human Sexuality Task Force. Rocky Spear will present the report of the Nominating Committee.

The online meeting is open to the first 100 registrants. You can register here.

You will want to read or download the reports from the Human Sexuality Task Force and the Nominating Committee. They are available here.

For the meeting, you will need to submit questions ahead of time by email. Send your questions to Administrative Assistant Cathy Reich at: cathy@ub.org.

How to Connect to the Online Meeting

You can join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Start by going here.

You can also dial in using your phone and just listen to the audio.

United States: +1 (224) 501-3412
Access Code: 746-479-637

First GoToMeeting? Try a test session: https://care.citrixonline.com/g2m/getready

Tim Scroggs (right), pastor 2003-2016 of Eagle Quest UB church (Columbia City, Ind.), has been battling cancer for some time. He will undergo surgery on Wednesday, May 31. Here is an update from Tim.

“First I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support. I recently completed chemo and radiation. It served its purpose in that the tumor has shrunk and the cancer has not spread to other organs.

“The next step is surgery this coming Wednesday. They will be removing the tumor and surrounding cancer. Our prayer is that all the cancer cells are removed and I am able to receive full healing.

“In addition to successful surgery, please also pray for peace for my wife Christine and my children. Pray also that the Lord will use us to minister to others in our time of weakness and need.”

Dr. Elmer Becker in front of the Huntington University Administration Building.

Dr. Elmer Becker in front of the Huntington University Administration Building, which is now called Becker Hall.

During its first 40 years, Huntington College went through nine different presidents. Make that eight: Clarence Mummart held the position twice–once before he was bishop, and once after.

But during the last 75+ years, there have been just five presidents. That run started with Elmer Becker, who served 1941-1965, longer than any other president before or after. He was also the last minister to fill the role. (His son, Carlson, also became a United Brethren minister.)

Elmer Becker was born May 30, 1899, on a farm near Ayr, Ontario. He became a Christian at age 17 and felt called to the ministry. He completed his high school diploma in the Huntington Academy in 1920, and graduated from the college in 1924. In 1923, he married Inez Schad, a fellow member of the debate team who, at the time, was reportedly the only female member of a college debate team in Indiana.

Becker was licensed to preach in 1924 and pastored churches in Ontario Conference for 13 years. The 1937 General Conference elected him as the denominational Secretary of Christian Education. Four years later, he became president of Huntington College. Becker’s 24-year tenure saw the addition of the Loew Alumni Library, the J. L. Brenn Hall of Science, and the Wright Hall men’s dorm, plus the expansion of the Livingston Hall dorm for women.

In 1945, Huntington College began what became a 16-year pursuit of accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The requirements touched nearly every aspect of the school–curriculum, faculty qualifications and salaries, buildings, tuition, administration, admissions standards, endowment, library holdings, relationships with the community, and support from the denomination. It took time and a lot of work. But on June 26, 1961, North Central called to say, “You’ve been approved.”

Before long, the entire campus was celebrating. They even rang the college bell at 10:00 a.m. President Becker was out of town, but upon returning found the faculty and staff having a picnic on his lawn. With accreditation, HC was positioned to attract more donors and students, plus better faculty.

Elmer Becker retired from the presidency in 1965 and passed away four years later.

Martin Boehm and William Otterbein were elected bishops in 1800, when the denomination officially organized. The understanding was that these were four-year terms, which meant they would hold a new election in 1804.

However, only five people showed up for the 1804 meeting. There was some kind of epidemic going on, probably yellow fever or cholera. Boehm was there, but not Otterbein. So the election was put off until 1805. Thus, Boehm and Otterbein started out serving five-year terms.

The 1805 conference began on May 29, 1805. Both Boehm, 80, and Otterbein, 79, were among the 21 ministers who attended, and they were re-elected as bishops.

That was the last conference Otterbein attended, though he continued as bishop until 1813. Boehm attended most years up through 1811, presiding alone. When neither bishop attended, Christian Newcomer and George Geeting presided.

There doesn’t seem to be any record of Boehm and Otterbein being re-elected in 1809. Nevertheless, we have traditionally held that Boehm and Otterbein served as bishops until their deaths in 1812 and 1813 respectively (both at age 87).

William Davis was born in 1812 and grew up in southern Indiana, which was untamed frontier back then. Raised in a very religious home, Davis gave his life to Christ at age 16. He preached his first sermon one week after turning 17, and was given a circuit of churches. For a while, he traveled to his churches on foot. When that became too difficult, he hired himself out at $8 a month until he could buy a horse and saddle.

On May 26, 1830, proudly sitting atop his new horse, William Davis headed south to Harrison County, on the Kentucky border, to attend the first session of the Indiana Annual Conference. He was received as a minister and was assigned to the Tanner’s Creek circuit. Two years later, when the Wabash Conference was organized, he was elected as the presiding elder (like a superintendent). Though Davis was only 22 years old, historian John Lawrence said Davis had “the prudence, the foresight, and firmness” of someone much older.

In 1846, Davis reflected on his 16 years as an itinerant minister.

“My time has been spent chiefly on the frontiers, among poor people. If I could lead some of my rich brethren along the Indian trails, or more dimly-beaten paths, to the cabins in the woods, and introduce them to meanly-clad parents, surrounded by almost naked children, and let them worship and mingle their prayers, songs, and tears around the same altar, they too would love those poor brethren….I do love the poor pioneer brethren in their cabins, and sympathize with the missionary who breaks to them, at great personal sacrifices, the bread of life.”

Lawrence said of Davis, “No one, perhaps, has ever heard a hasty or ill-advised remark from his lips. He speaks slowly and distinctly, and often eloquently.”

“Stephen Lillibridge did more, perhaps, than any other man of his day to extend the cause in the Sandusky Conference,” wrote UB historian John Lawrence. Lillibridge started many new churches and won hundreds of people to Christ. Unfortunately, his ministry lasted just eight years. He died at age 28.

Lawrence wrote, “Mr. Lillibridge was all that could have been desired as a Christian and as an evangelist.”

Lillibridge was born in 1815 and, at age 18, became a United Brethren minister in the Black Swamp territory of northern Ohio. Lawrence said the Black Swamp was “a dreadful country for an itinerant minister,” a wilderness both physically and morally. Lillibridge was always poor–he received less than $100 during his eight years of ministry–and lacked suitable winter clothes, but he never complained.

In 1843, Lillibridge appeared at Sandusky annual conference in feeble health, yet he accepted a new circuit. Four weeks later, on May 25, 1843, he died, leaving behind a young wife.

Henry Spayth wrote of Lillibridge, “To go where as yet the brethren had no name nor home, and where Christ was seldom preached by any ministry and still less known, was his peculiar call.”