Beginning in January, all local churches will send 3.5% of their income (minus mission giving, building funds, and estate income) directly to the United Brethren Offices. This is a new process. A second check will go to the conference to cover any continuing conference assessments (check with your conference superintendent on this). Details regarding procedures for sending in the amount to the UB Offices will be sent to all churches this fall. However, at this point, you could warn your church treasurer that this change is coming, and also use this information as you prepare your church’s 2006 budget.

Central Conference, during its July 11-12 meeting, took action on a detailed plan developed by Superintendent Tom Brodbeck which will help bring the conference into alignment with the decisions of the US National Conference. Because of a pending lawsuit, Central Conference cannot dissolve the corporate yet. However, they took the following actions to downscale what the conference does and prepare for full implementation of the cluster system:

  1. 1. The 2005 meeting will be the final annual meeting of the conference.
  2. The current conference leaders–superintendent, district superintendents, conference council–will continue in office through the end of 2005.
  3. The conference council will take care of any necessary business until the corporation can be dissolved.
  4. The superintendent will focus primarily on helping the Healthy Church director organize cluster groups for Central Conference churches, working with Laurel Mission and the camps to develop organizational structures, processing any issues related to the lawsuit, and handling other administrative matters involved in preparing for the transition to the cluster system.
  5. The conference council will focus mostly on giving final approval to the constitutions, deeds, and other documents needed for the camps, churches, and other Central Conference entities as they transition into the new structure, and will name a new superintendent and council of administration to serve beginning January 1, 2006.
  6. Beginning January 1, 2006, the conference leadership will consist of a superintendent ($100 a month honorarium, plus expenses), and a council of administration consisting of the superintendent plus three clergy and three lay at-large members. They will have full authority to act on all matters related to the conference.
  7. This resolution for dissolution was approved: “Resolved, that the Central Conference Council of Administration, acting on behalf of the churches and ministers of the Central Conference, be hereby authorized and directed to formally and officially dissolve the corporation known as Central Conference, Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, Inc., and incorporated in the states of Ohio and Indiana, upon the final resolution of all legal and financial obligations before the corporation.” Central Conference includes churches in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, but no incorporation was ever done for the Kentucky churches.
  8. In 2006, churches will be assessed 1% of tithes and offerings to cover expenses, honorarium, and health insurance obligations. Funding for all conference ministries–the camps, Laurel Mission, and church planting–will end, as will the retiree health insurance benefit.

missindianaSusan Guilkey, a 2005 graduate of Huntington University, was crowned Miss Indiana on July 25 during the Miss Indiana Scholarship pageant held in Zionsville, Ind. Guilkey will compete at the Miss America pageant in the coming months.

Guilkey, a native of Noblesville, Ind., graduated from Huntington in May with a degree in communication studies. In 2003, she won the Miss Huntington competition. At the Miss Indiana competition, Guilkey sang “I Don Quixote” from the “Man of La Mancha” musical for her talent. She also won the competition’s “People’s Choice” award.

Her platform as Miss Indiana includes publicizing Girls Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold. During the spring semester of her senior year at Huntington, Guilkey completed an internship with Girls Inc., in Indianapolis.

The Otterbein United Brethren church in Waynesboro has withdrawn from the denomination. Otterbein was the fourth-largest UB church, with an average attendance of 814 in 2004.

In a June 9 letter to Bishop Paul Hirschy and to the superintendents and officers of Mid-Atlantic Conference, senior pastor Michael V. Newman explained that the church’s elders and management Oversight Team held a joint meeting on June 8, during which they decided “by a unanimous vote to discontinue our affiliation with the church of the United Brethren in Christ effective Sunday, June 19, 2005. Beginning Monday, June 20, we will function as a nondenominational congregation.”

Newman said the two largest factors in the decision were the following:

“By almost everyone’s assessment, the United Brethren Church is struggling right now….Our leadership, after praying for God’s guidance, has decided that it is not good stewardship to continue to put large sums of money into an organization that is seeing little spiritual impact for the Kingdom of God. We believe it would have greater impact if used in our local church or in the hands of another ministry group.”
(more…)

The Sunfield Church (Sunfield, Mich.) on June 19th burned their mortgage on the new building they added only two years ago. The 60×82 building is a spacious fellowship area suitable for many activities. The cost of the building was $450,000. This month a new building study committee was put together to bring together a plan for a new Recreational Building.

This year, Sunfield plans to start an Upward Basketball ministry for the community.

RonRamsey500

The US National Conference, our highest governing body, met June 20-23 and adopted a number of major changes.

Rev. Ron Ramsey (above) was elected on June 23 as the new bishop of the US National Conference. He will take office on August 15. Bishop Ramsey has served as pastor of the Main Street UB church in Walbridge, Ohio, for the past 12 years. You can read his biographical information and vision statement online.

The Property referendum was passed. It gives local churches title to their property. In the past, such property has been held in trust by the denomination.
(more…)

Beckers_300.jpg

Carlson and Naomi Becker will go to Macau this fall as fulltime missionaries with the English Language Program. They will stay for three years.

Carlson is the son of former Huntington College President Elmer Becker. Both he and Naomi graduated from HC. From 1964-1968, Carlson pastored the Union Church in Huntington. Then they went to Michigan to begin ten years as director and wife at Camp Living Waters, a UB camp, having worked with the YMCA and in camping during college and seminary.

In 1977, the Beckers moved back to Huntington after General Conference elected Carlson to be the Director of Stewardship. He worked at the UB Headquarters in Stewardship work for 12 years. Then, in 1989, he began four years as Associate Director of Missions. One daughter, Michelle, served as a missionary nurse in Sierra Leone.

Carlson left that position in 1993 and returned to the pastorateƑthe Northland UB church in Traverse City, Mich. He served that church for ten years.
(more…)

BethNelson_200.jpg

This summer, Beth Nelson will travel to Macau to spend time working in the English Language Program. Beth is from the Mongul UB church in Shippensburg, Pa., where her father, Rev. Marc Nelson, is an associate pastor. As a short-term missionary, Beth will seek both mission experience and God’s direction for future mission service.

Beth is currently an Elementary Education major at Shippensburg University. She loves children, has worked with children in several churches, and spent a summer as a missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship. In fact, her experience with CEF pointed her toward mission work. Beth says her opportunities to share her faith and God’s Word to kids in backyard classes prepared her to confidently share her faith wherever she goes.

Global Ministries is consulting with Hong Kong Conference and CEF in Hong Kong to see if they could use her for short-term work there, in addition to her work with the ELP.

Edwin Recinos, pastor of La Iglesia Celular, a Hispanic UB church in Santa Clarita, Calif., sent this report:
“On Saturday, April 4, the First Youth Convention, named “Mission Possible,” was held at La Iglesia Celular. Almost 700 youth attended the event! Fourteen Hispanic pastors brought youth to the convention. They came all the way from Sacramento to the North, and Santa Ana to the South. Pastors Manuel Lopez from UB Palmdale, Ricardo Rivera from UB Sacramento, and Amilcar Serrano from UB Simi Valley were among the delegations attending the event.

“The Hispanics churches are multiplying, and we are united in the vision of reaching all the unsaved in California. We expect more events like this to come in the future.”

At one time, Teacher Lee was an army major in Taiwan. Over 20 years ago, he became a Christian, and God called him into the ministry. Then, a little over ten years ago, he became a church planter in two villages in the mountains of northern Thailand, along the border of Myanmar. Those villages are home to the Akha people. No other Christian groups work in those villages.ThaiBaptism_300.jpg
Teacher Lee and his family live in Lee To Village, where he planted his first church. About 60 families have become involved in this congregation, and he recently baptized 33 persons.

For years, as people came to Christ, they faced persecution and alienation from other villagers. Families built homes on land owned by the church so they could have a place to live. In recent years, the persecution has stopped, as people have seen the good that the church and Teacher Lee have brought to the village. Christians can live in the village once again.

Teacher Lee is now planting his second congregation in nearby Loh Mah Village. They have reached 20 families. The people there face the same persecution that Lee To Village faced for years. As people come to Christ, they are no longer welcome in the village.

Hong Kong Conference has asked for our help in buying land in Loh Mah village. The cost is $25,000. We want to raise half of that amount through our Vacation Bible School project.

This land, a large parcel on the mountainside, would provide property for the church and space for up to 30 homes for Christian families forced to leave the village because they accepted Christ. The land is costly because the whole area is a tea plantation; it could easily be sold for that purpose. The owner lets families build temporary bamboo and thatch structures on his land in return for several days of labor each month. Church members also give this landowner 3-4 days a month of labor in exchange for the ability to have their temporary church there.

These folks are poor, but they work hard and help each another. When the land is purchased, the sister church in Lee To Village will help build a permanent church. We want to help Teacher Lee and these churches as they share the message of Jesus Christ with families on the mountaintop. Your gifts will give them land to build their church, and will build homes for their families.

Teacher Lee and his wife also give their lives to the 20 “Thai Tots” who live in a dormitory-type structure next to their house. Some are orphans; others come from families who cannot afford to care adequately for them.