Bishop Ron Ramsey has appointed Rev. Pat Jones as Healthy Church Director, a major new staff position at the United Brethren Headquarters. In that role, Pat will focus most of his time on developing the new “clusters,” which will consist of an average of seven churches. There will be about 30 clusters scattered across the country, and every United Brethren church will be required to join a cluster.

For the past 14 years, Pat has served as senior pastor of King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa. Before that, he planted the UB church in Carlisle, Pa., and also pastored the Devonshire UB church in Harrisburg, Pa. Pat has been a member of the Executive Leadership Team, is a member of the Huntington University Board of Trustees, and has filled various roles at the conference and denominational level.

Both Bishop Ron Ramsey and Rev. Pat Jones were able to sell their homes within a week, and for the full asking price. Pat and Pam Jones are purchasing a home on the southwest side of Fort Wayne, about 20 minutes from Huntington. Bishop Ramsey says, “We’ve decided to rent for a while to get better acclimated to the area before we rush in to build or buy.”

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.”

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.