Morocco Church (Temperance, Mich.) is reaching out to the community and sharing the joy of Jesus!  For the last few years, Morocco has invited the Ida High School Jazz Band to perform, and they did that again on December 14.

After the band played several Christmas hymns and songs with a jazz flare, everyone went to the fellowship room for free hot coca, punch, and lots of goodies. It’s a great way to celebrate Christmas and get people into the church, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays.

Mark Ralph will become senior pastor of Lakeside Evangelical Congregational Church (Transfer, Pa.) effective January 1, 2010. Since 1975, Mark has been a pastor at Brown Corners UB (Clare, Mich), Shepherd Street UB (Charlotte, Mich.), and a UB church planter in Birmingham, Ala. Most recently, he was senior pastor of Sunfield UB (Sunfield, Mich.) 1997-2009. Mark has roots in the Evangelical Congregational Church, where his father was a pastor for 28 years. Mark himself pastored in the EC church 1981-1983.


Our Burmese family prepares to serve us a meal. Bob and Kathy Bruce are seated on the right.

Over the past few months, Charlene and I have been part of a “Circle of Friends” helping a refugee Burmese family in Fort Wayne, Ind. This family came to the US after 18 years in a Thai camp. Fort Wayne has about 5000 immigrants from Burma, the largest Burmese refugee population in the United States. The majority of them are Muslims who carry with them many of their own traditions and customs.

However, this family is not completely united. The husband and father of six passed away just a year before they gained the opportunity to start their lives over again in a new homeland. The cause of death remains a mystery, but it seems he may have died from a brain hemorrhage. The eldest son, who would logically fulfill the role of primary wage earner, is stuck in Malaysia due to a bureaucratic oversight.

This past week our circle, which includes Bob and Kathy Bruce of Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, took a number of Burmese families out to see Christmas lights around the city. We borrowed a bus from Emmanuel and filled it with children and their parents. They were fascinated by the Christmas lights around town.

Later, the family we help support provided a delicious Burmese meal in their home. They seemed thrilled to do something in return for the help they’ve received, and we were pleased to see our friendship move one step deeper.

Denis Casco at Valle de Santiago

Bishop Denis Casco at the Valle de Santiago church.

Mexico is said by many to be in crisis. Corruption at multiple levels and drug trafficking have a major impact on our near neighbor to the south, but we’re rejoicing in the growth of the United Brethren in Christ.

I visited Mexico last week with Rev. Denis Casco, Bishop of the Mexico National Conference. Rev. Casco continues to provide outstanding leadership to our churches in Mexico. Our ministry currently consists of 34 registered churches and another 10 church plants. They are divided into seven districts from El Paso/Juarez in the north to Oaxaca in the south.

Large concentrations of UB churches can be found in Queretaro and Michoacan to the north and west of Mexico City. We also have 3 indigenous works among Purepecha peoples in Michoacan, and among Tarazco peoples in Chihuahua.

We visited Valle de Santiago, where Mount Pleasant UB in Chambersburg, Pa., is currently completing a five-year partnership with Pastor Ramiro Negrete and the Centro Familiar Evangelico. They recently completed the construction of a sanctuary to accommodate 500 attendees, and it’s filling quickly.

Along the way, I heard the testimonies of new believers who had come to faith in Christ through the care and compassion of UB church members who came to them and loved them through struggles with abuse, drugs, and the chaos of broken family relationships. God is doing a tremendous work among his people.

This week, a team from Mount Pleasant will be in Mexico helping distribute nearly over 500 Operation Christmas Child boxes from Samaritan’s Purse. This will be the largest distribution our Mexican UB churches have ever been involved with. We currently have a number of opportunities for churches or individuals interested in partnering with a local church and participating in a short-term project.

We reported yesterday the death of Dave Jackson. Here are the arrangements for his funeral:

  • Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009
  • Location: College Park UB church, Huntington, Ind.
  • Time: 11 a.m.
  • Viewing: 10-11 a.m.

Extended information about Dave can be found on the website for Myers Funeral Homes.

Last Thursday, Dec. 3, Bishop Phil Whipple was a guest on the popular Mid-Morning show on WBCL, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was joined by two Huntington University graduate school professors, Mike Cook and Jerry Davis, along with another Fort Wayne pastor. The topic: “Healthy Church, Healthy Pastor.”

In March 2010, Huntington University’s EXCEL Adult Degree Programs will begin offering a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) for registered nurses.

Classes will be held on Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m. on the university’s main campus.

The RN to BSN program seeks to build on the experience and education nurses already have gained in the field, and to teach nursing theory, leadership, and care through a Christian lens.

Students will complete the nursing core in less than two years. The program consists of 17 courses comprising 49 credit hours. These courses include Bible and writing as well as nursing courses such as research, ethics, and current issues in nursing. Diana Shenefield of Huntington UniversityTranscripts from previous educational institutions will determine the amount of transferable coursework and the courses needed for graduation.

“Our program is designed for adult learners who work and have family responsibilities,” said Diana Shenefield (right), an R.N. and instructor in nursing.

She added that the university’s smaller size allows for a more student-centered approach to learning.

“Students have more of an opportunity to speak out in class,” Shenefield said. “They can ask questions as well as engage the professor in dialogue in and outside of class.”

Dave Jackson at a Christian Endeavor Convention in Germany

Dave Jackson at a Christian Endeavor Convention in Germany

Dave is known for his work with youth over the years:

  • Leader of the “Children of Faith” group at College Park UB in Huntington, Ind.
  • Denominational Youth Director 1966-1973, and led the UB youth conventions.
  • Executive Director of Christian Endeavor International 1979-1998.
  • Executive Director of World’s Christian Endeavor Union 1984-2006.

In addition, Dave worked as Dean of Men at Huntington University (1963-1966) and as Office Administrator/Treasurer for the denomination (1973-1979).

Two Healthy Ministry Resources wayfarers are returning to Huntington, Ind., today.

  • Bishop Phil Whipple flies out of Phoenix this morning after several days in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
  • Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries, flies back after six days in Mexico.

Marc StephensonTwo new persons have joined the denominational Youth Ministry Team:

  • Marc Stephenson (left), Minister of Youth at Cochranton Community Church (Cochranton, Pa.).
  • Mark Vincenti, Associate Pastor of Student Ministries at King Street Church (Chambersburg, Pa.).

They replace Roger Vezeau and Brian Kramer, who served on the youth team during the past four years.