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.

David and Melissa Kline report that they have received work permits for Macau, which means they can now begin teaching in the English Language Program. They will begin teaching in January, and may also have the chance to teach at a middle school.

They held a Thanksgiving Party, which went very well. “Normally we have a program including a speaker, singing, and maybe some games or group discussion. This time, we very intentionally kept the program to a prayer for the food and a short story about what Thanksgiving means to us. Everyone seemed very relaxed and stayed for a couple hours talking. Our entire team had many opportunities to build deeper relationships that night. Yeah God!

“As an advertisement for that dinner, Melissa made apple and pumpkin pie for English class. Some of the women liked the apple so much they set-up a time to come to our home to make it. Five ladies came over and we had a great time baking and eating lunch. Cooking seems to be a way into peoples lives lately.”

David and Melissa are currently in the States for the wedding of Melissa’s brother. They will return to Macau before Christmas so they can participate in the ELP holiday activities.

  • St. Mary’s, Ohio. Mike Spaulding has been named interim pastor of Hillsdale UB church in St. Mary’s, effective December 5.
  • Lucile Cook, wife of Herbert Cook, passed away December 7. Services were in Desert Hot Spring, Calif.
  • Dan Millard is no longer pastor of Northland UB in Traverse City, Mich. Carlson Becker is serving as interim pastor.
  • Robert Lust is no longer at First UB church in Columbus, Ohio. The pastoral staff at Franklin Church in New Albany, Ohio, will provide pastoral oversight during the transition. Mike Brown and George McCombs are the pastors.

The Huntington College Board of Trustees has approved a 0% tuition increase for 2005-2006. Annual tuition is currently $18,060, which places Huntington 19th out of 32 independent colleges and universities in Indiana. Across the United States, the average tuition at four-year private institutions this year is $20,082. Read the HC press release.

Linda Neely, a UB endorsed missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, reports: “Great news! In October I received an invitation to be a language survey specialist in Indonesia! This invitation came after I expressed interest in working in that part of the world. It is exciting to have an official assignment!

“My first year in Indonesia will be spent in language school studying Bahasa Indonesia (or Indonesian) in the capital city of Jakarta. A city of over 10 million people, Jakarta is located on the island of Java. I am planning to arrive there in July of 2005 for a field-training course before starting Indonesian classes in August.

“Since I will not be going overseas until July, it will be beneficial for me to stay here in Dallas until April to take an advanced survey course. During this time I will also learn how to write profiles of people groups, a skill that will be very useful on the survey team in Indonesia.

“Here’s some more great news: almost all of the monthly financial support that I will need for my assignment in Indonesia has been pledged! There will still be some additional expenses for airfare, moving, and setting up.”

The first African maintenance officer of the United Brethren Church, Sierra Leone, Mr. Toma K. Fogbawah, the first African maintenance office of the UB church in Sierra Leone, passed away on December 11. He was 69. Mr. Fogbawah is survived by his wife, Mrs. Dinah Fogbawah, and seven children. Cards to the family can be sent through Mrs. Fogbawah, Andrew, and Tom, all of whom reside at: 3017 4th Avenue, Claymont, DE 19703.

  • Hong Kong. Hong Kong Conference held a missions conference in early December. Here are some items from that conference, plus news from the work of several persons affiliated with Hong Kong Conference:
  • There were 380 participants in the conference. Attendees donated $1,232, and made a faith offering of $29,788. Several members indicated that they would participate in short-term mission opportunities.
  • Poland. Arek Delik, serving in Poland, attended a conference with 200 preachers from eight different denominations; they discussed the vision of planting new churches. Arek and Donna have a new female coworker in Poland, Alina Kozlowska. Donna is teaching 86 students in English classes; it is a way to establish relationshipos with unchurched people.
  • Myanmar. The Go Chin family returned safely to Myanmar on December 7. They have 180 students in English classes. Carmen has started a kindergarten; she needs a schoolbus to provide transportation for students. Bridget Ho is busily making preparations for a Christmas evangelistic gathering for the students in the English classes.
  • Thailand. In Thailand, 40 persons will be baptized over Christmas. Rev. H. M. Lee is the pastor.