Oak Harbor UB (Oak Harbor, Ohio) has taken steps to relocate. Pastor Randy Carpenter reports, “We are in the process of working with an architect and are attempting to find land to buy. The current building has been outgrown, even with the addition of multiple services.”

West Windsor UB (Dimondale, Mich.) paid off its mortgage. The church averages about 60 people in attendance. With extra offerings and collections, they paid more than $13,000 in one year.

Carlson Becker, pastor of Northland UB church (Traverse City, Mich.), reports, “Northland Church is taking an 11-person work team to El Tablon, Ecuador, near Quito. We will help build a church for the congregation to use. The church was started by Ruth and Doug Weber and now has a national serving as pastor. Naomi and I visited the church a year ago last summer. The team is made up of Northland members and Ron Beaver from Huntington, Ind.

“We leave on February 12 and return on February 26. College Park UB in Huntington is sending a team to finish the building next summer. We will start it and get as far as we can in February.”

Northland UB is seeking a pastor. Carlson has been serving as interim pastor since last July.

Giving toward denominational finances was very good in 2004. We received 96.8% of the general benevolence needs. Bishop Hirschy notes, “In light of the financial pressures created by rising insurance costs and the uncertainty surrounding the discussion about the Missionary Church, I view 96.8% as a very positive show of support from the local churches and the annual conferences for the US National Conference benevolence. I certainly want to express my thanks.”

Michigan Mid-Year Council convenes on January 29 at the Colwood UB church in Caro. The keynote speaker will be Dwight Smith, president of Saturation Church Planting International and co-author of Invading Secular Space. He will challenge the conference on their church planting vision.

  • Jenna Zirbel is the new pastor of McGuire Bend UB church in Dayton, Iowa.
  • Michigan Conference has stationed Scott Hardaway at the Gethsemane UB church in Jackson, starting in February. He previously served as associate pastor of the UB church in Hillsdale, Mich.

As of the end of December, we had received $85,951 for the three hurricane relief funds.

  • $38,397 for Florida.
  • $34,284 for Jamaica.
  • $13, 269 for Haiti.

Persons who want to contribute toward tsunami relief are encouraged to give through World Relief, the relief organization of the National Association of Evangelicals. Or, people can designate money for relief work by our couple in India, who have been helping some victims of the tsunami.

We heard today from our couple in India concerning the tsunami which devastated countries along the Indian Ocean. They report, “The impact of the Tsunami was felt by villages about 1 to 2 miles from here. There were 5000 people who came to Narsapur because their houses were either destroyed, or as a precautionary measure to avoid further damages from any follow-up waves. Many of these people were housed and fed in the schools and colleges nearby. The hospitals, both the leprosy and the regular hospital, were used in aiding the people in need of care and shelter.

“As of yesterday, most of the people have gone back to their homes. Our area does not seem to be as badly hit as some of the areas further south. We will get a better assessment of the damage, we hope, soon. We are going to give clothes and towels to about 250 fisherman on January 2 who are Christians The pastors of two villages have shared this need. The government is helping, but it is hard to know exactly who have been helped. We felt that we should start somewhere.

“Many of these people will not have any new clothes for the New Year, which is a cultural thing here, since they have no earnings. The fishermen have been told not to go into the sea as yet. Many have lost their nets and some of their boats have been damaged. The cost of repair of boats and buying nets would be helpful, we are sure. We will need to find out about the cost of this need. The government is also giving rice and lentils. We hope that the right people will get these supplies. We will look into this need as well after the government have done their part.”

Narsapur is not far from the seacoast. They are fine in Narsapur, but the villages on the coast were hit hard by the tsunami. Homes were destroyed and people lost their lives. Several thousand people came into Narsapur right after the waves hit, but are now returning to what is left of their homes. The hospital dealt with many medical needs, and will be assessing how they can help with medical and health-related needs in the days to come.

Relief agencies are coming in, too. They don’t know how long the relief agencies will stay–if they will be there for a long time, or only for the short-term. Therefore, they don’t know the extent to which they and Narsapur Hospital will need to be involved.

If you wish to donate toward the relief efforts, you may do so by sending funds to Global Ministries. Global Ministries will forward the money to World Relief, the relief arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, unless the money can be used by our people in India.

During October, UB members throughout the United States voted on three referendum items and elected laypersons and ministers to represent their conference at the June 2005 US National Conference.

Altogether, about 11,500 UB members in the United States voted.

  • Referendum on Property. It passed with a strong 89% of the votes.
  • Referendum on Joining the Missionary Church. It lost, with 57% of our members voting against it.
  • Referendum on National Conference Representation. It passed, with 86% of the vote.

A referendum needs at least 50% of the votes in order to be passed along to the US National Conference. The Property and National Conference Representation referenda will now go to the 65 delegates next June; if two-thirds of them vote in favor of a referenda, it will become official.

Bishop Hirschy writes in his December Bmail newsletter, which was mailed today, “I do not see any reason why those two items should not pass the US National Conference….With this level of support, I will do everything I can to encourage the National Conference to pass those two items.”

The referendum on joining the Missionary Church, having received less than half of the votes, is dead and will not receive further consideration.

The UB website gives a complete report on the referendum results, with the number of votes and percentages listed according to conference. Every conference passed the Property and National Conference Representation referenda. The referendum on Joining the Missionary Church passed in only four conferences: Arizona, Michindoh, Sandusky, and Southeast.

In addition to voting on the referenda, UB people elected delegates to the National Conference. Members elected 62 persons as delegates, with between two and sixteen persons representing each conference (depending on the conference’s size). In addition, three elected officials (the Bishop, Director of Global Ministries, and Director of Education) are also voting members.

Since the referendum to join the Missionary Church failed, people are asking, “What happens now?” To help answer that question, Bishop Paul Hirschy has called a special meeting of the National Board on February 14 and 15. The meeting will start at 1 pm on Monday, the 14th, and conclude during the afternoon on Tuesday. It will be held at Huntington College.

Of the 65 members of the 2005 US National Conference, 24 also serve on the National Board (3 of them being elected officials). So a little over one-third of the National Board members will return for National Conference. All ELT members are also members of the National Board.