Jerry Caley, from the Banner of Christ UB church (Byron Center, Mich.), sent this note on April 19:

“Our church is three months into its new Faith Promise for Missions campaign. The goal for giving and fundraising events is $17,500. Already the giving alone is nearing $6000.

“In addition, under the leadership of our new Pastor of Discipleship and Youth, Josh Good, we have 25 persons going to Costa Rica in July to build a new church with Youth With A Mission. Nineteen high school students and six adults will be part of this two-week trip–a first ever ‘out of the country’ for our youth ministry.”

Marshalee Brown, a member of Jamaica Conference, is a missionary in Ethiopia. She sent this report on April 24.

“It has been a huge adjustment here after living in Addis Ababa for a year. First it’s the language barrier(Tygrina), then its not knowing anyone except the people on the team. Then its not trusting anyone, especially after your house was broken into and valuable and personal things stolen. Yes, my house was broken into two weeks ago and I lost a considerable amount of money, computer, camera, and all other electronics I had. I am still dealing with the paranoia and emotions that come with not knowing who was in your personal space going through your personal things.

“On the bright side, even though it has been challenging, I feel the presence and peace of God beside and in me everyday. Even though over the past couple of weeks I have felt the great urge to just go home, I know that I am at the right place and that God is with me no matter what I go through.

“Work at the Youth Center is going great. There seem to be so much that needs to be done! Please continue to pray that I will make God my priority while here and that He will give me peace in the midst of the storm.”

Paul Coy, a former UB missionary in Macau, is getting married on May 29. His bride-to-be, Rita, is a fellow student at the seminary where Paul has been studying. She is a registered nurse, but pastored a church for two years before coming to the seminary, where she, like Paul, is studying for her Master of Divinity degree. The wedding will be held at Tabuyoc Church of the Nazarene, Pangasinan, Philippines.

Paul writes, “We are expecting around 1000 people, with most of Rita’s village attending our wedding. Rita and I will stay in the Philippines until we both graduate in April 2006. After this we are planning to be assigned as missionaries in Asia. We are praying about China, but are open to anywhere God calls us. Please pray for our future and for our adjustment to marriage life.”

Ryan Clark is the new pastor of Van Wert UB church (Van Wert, Ohio). He began in mid-April. Ryan and his wife, Becky, are coming from Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts, where Ryan is completing his MDiv. They have two children and a third on the way.

Devonshire Memorial UB (Harrisburg, Pa.) held a Family Life Conference this week. It began on Easter Sunday morning, and continued with services each night through Wednesday (with a buffet dinner before the Wednesday evening service). It was led by Home Fire Ministries.

Hilltop Community UB (Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) hired a Children’s Director in April. Erika Gloeckner has experience working with children, and she possesses a passion for helping children know the Lord. There has already been a healthy increase in attendance for Sunday school and the weekday children’s programs.

Pastor Michael Tucker writes, “The church has successfully operated a preschool for several years, and now has announced plans to add a kindergarten class for next fall. Although the announcement of the new class is only a week old, the class is already full, and there are eight students on the waiting list. Plans to build an educational building are being discussed as the church anticipates that additional grades will be added to the school next year.

“New video projection equipment has been installed in the church auditorium since Easter. The church makes extensive use of PowerPoint slides each week for the worship. There are 80-100 slides used each week, and often video is incorporated into the service.”

Grace UB (Sherkston, Ontario) is getting ready for week one of the Purpose Driven Life Campaign. Sheldon King writes, “We have been praying about this and deliberating over it a lot, and a lot of hard work has gone into preparing the campaign for the church. We have great hopes for the church and its spiritual growth and ‘people growth’ as well. This campaign will bring much change to the way we do things at Grace. We kick it off with the National Simulcast Video on April 18. The whole service will be a video of Rick Warren in his service for Saddleback’s launch of the 40 Days or Purpose.”

The Community Easter Egg Hunt at Sunfield UB (Sunfield, Mich.) drew almost 100 children from the community, and the church was able to share with the children and their parents the true meaning of Easter. Three families came back the next day on Easter Sunday, and the parents in one of those families received Christ. The two morning services had a combined attendance of 322.

Some other news from the church:

  • Judy Atherton, wife of Assistant Pastor Roy Atherton, has been diagnosed with cancer.
  • This summer, the youth are taking a mission trip to Mexico with Teen Mania.
  • Five babies will be dedicated in May, and they will also bring in 15 new members.
  • In June, 30 people will spend four days working at the Laurel Mission in Kentucky. Pastor Mark Ralph will be traveling with Gary Dilley to Honduras so he can see the new kitchen built in El Carril by the Sunfield church.

On January 25, Hillsdale UB celebrated its 100th anniversary. State Sen. Cameron Brown delivered the invocation and Bishop Paul Hirschy gave the benediction. Nearly 600 people attended the two morning worship services. The first service concluded with the baptism of 12 people, while the second service ended by taking 37 into membership, which broke a record that had stood for a century.

On January 24, 1904, thirty charter members formed the church. Hillsdale UB connected its Centennial Celebration with the historic first flight of the Wright Brothers and their UB background. The Centennial motto is, “Soaring with Christ, we see the world from a different perspective.” During the first service, Bishop Paul Hirschy was introduced to a man bearing the same name as the Wright brothers’ father, who was a former United Brethren bishop. Milton Wright began visiting Hillsdale UB last fall. Each of those who were baptized or joined the church that day were given one of the new quarters depicting the Wright brothers conquest of the air.

Over the last five years, Hillsdale’s ministry has averaged one conversion per week. Through the first quarter of this year, the average was two per week, partly as a result of the response to the Passion of the Christ film. The church purchased all the tickets for five showings of the film at the local theater. Pastor Les Smith instructed the congregation not to buy the discounted tickets unless they also bought one for an unsaved or unchurched person. All 1,000 tickets were sold, and approximately half of those attending the five showings were not from the church. Each of the four pastors at Hillsdale took a turn at presenting an invitation at the conclusion of one of the showings, and a dozen people responded.

Pastor Smith preached a Lenten series on the Passion from Isaiah 53, the fifth verse of which appears on the screen at the beginning of the film. There was a definite impact on attendance for Easter, when nearly 800 attended the two services, a church record.