Roger Skinner receives honorary degree from Huntington University
HU Board Chairman Ed Souers (left) and Dean of the College Norris Friesen (right) conduct the hooding ceremony for Roger Skinner.

Huntington University awarded four honorary degrees at its 2007 Commencement Exercises on May 19. Among them was Roger Skinner, a United Brethren endorsed missionary serving as USA executive director of OMS International. He was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree for his long-time enablement of missionaries to serve around the world. He then delivered the Commencement address.

Skinner holds a degree in philosophy from Huntington University and a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife, Mary Lou, served as OMS missionaries in Ecuador from 1973-1995, initially in evangelism and church planting, and later at Evangelical bible Seminary and in a pastoral role. They returned to the US in 1995 to work at the OMS International headquarters in Greenwood, Ind., where they now live.

Previously, Roger Skinner received the Alumnus of the Year award from Huntington University and was inducted into the HU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Other honorary degrees went to:

  • Homer Hiner, former president and CEO of Hiner Transport, and his wife Marjorie Hiner. They received a Doctor of Commercial Science.
  • Dr. Carol a. Clark, who practices obstetrics and gynecology in Anderson, Ind., received the Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Alan and Doris MacDonaldAlan and Doris MacDonald left Wycliffe Bible Translators at the end of 2006 after over 30 years of service in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and several stateside assignments. no longer serving as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Alan is now Pastor of Global Engagement at Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Va.

The Braeded ChordDoris is half of the music group The Braeded Chord, whose music has been described as “a mixture of folks-rock-gospel-blues.” She and Sharon Dennis have now released three albums, the latest one being “Radio Lane” in October 2006. In February, The Braeded Chord was awarded a WAMMIE (Washington Area Musicians Association) for Best Gospel/Inspiration Group of 2006, the second year in a row they received this award. Bob Schieffer, CBS newsman, who calls himself a “fledgling songwriter,” hosted the ceremony. Doris and Sharon serve as worship leaders for Church of the Word in Gainesville, Va., and perform in local coffeehouses, churches, festivals, and benefits. They have also been the featured musicians at several United Brethren missions events.

Doris is the granddaughter of Dr. Y. T. Chiu, founder of many UB churches in Hong Kong and a former professor at Huntington University. She grew up in the Glendale UB church in Glendale, Calif.

michaelsessions.jpgHillsdale, Mich., has the nation’s only teenage mayor, which has earned him celebrity status. Mayor Michael Sessions (right) has appeared on Letterman, Good Morning America, etc. after winning election as a write-in candidate by two votes while still a high school senior. Now a 19-year-old freshman at Hillsdale College, Mayor Sessions accepted an invitation to the Dedication Service of the Ministry Office Center of the Hillsdale UB Church on Febuary 25. Bishop Ramsey was the keynote speaker before a congregation of over 300 who braved a winter storm despite the cancellation of services by several churches in Hillsdale County.
The Ministry Office Center was the result of a seven month renovation of the former parsonage next door to the church. Pastor Smith’s new office is his former bedroom. The garage was enlarged and serves as a beautiful new classroom. All the staff have relocated to various rooms of the former house and the basement serves as a conference room. 

On Friend Day, March 25, Mayor Sessions returned to Hillsdale UB. Over 200 people in the first service witnessed the baptism of nine people. Over 300 attended the second service, which was followed with a “Friendship” potluck meal.

Olive Weaver (Rickersey), a former UB missionary in Sierra Leone, passed away on Friday, July 6, 2007. Olive’s Christian commitment led her to many years of mission work in Sierra Leone and Australia, as well as to teaching elementary children in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Olive’s husband, Tom, an Australian, passed away in 1996. Olive leaves behind four step-children and ten step-grandchildren.

The funeral will be held at 2 pm on Tuesday, July 10, at Grace UB Church in Sherkston, Ontario. Viewing will be Monday, 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm, at the Davidson Funeral Home (135 Clarence St., Port Colbourne, Ontario), and again on Tuesday 1-2 pm.

Been awhile since I have made an entry to this blog. I’m afraid I only have excuses and not valid reasons. But I wanted to reflect a little bit about the recent National Conference 2007.
First, let me say that it far exceeded my expectations. Maybe I had low expectations, but I don’t think so. Rather, I believe that God showed up in power at the conference.

While I realize that parts of the overall program were not received as well as others, the evaluations filled out by the attenders were extremely positive. For that I am thankful. I felt it was a great time for the United Brethren Church, a much-needed time of challenge, inspiration, fun, and seeing old friends. But I really believe God did something in our hearts during those days. I have great optimism for our future. Especially if we take to heart what we heard about evangelism and discipleship…which should be the emphasis of a church’s ministry.

I know we have had discussion in the past about small churches and large churches. But in reading the Great Commission again, I don’t find anything about size there. It just says we are to make disciples. Making disciples involves evangelism, education, and enlisting (baptism) of those who do not yet follow Jesus. The Great Commission is not a large church thing or a big church thing. It is an obedience thing.

Regardless of the size of a church, I really don’t understand how anyone can believe they are being obedient to Jesus when year after year the annual report shows no converts or baptisms. It really isn’t about size. It is about being obedient to Jesus. I don’t think it is even a church thing. It really is an individual thing. So the question is not so much about the church but about me as an individual. Is my life being lived so that people are coming to Christ and being built up in him because of my Christian walk. Isn’t that the real issue?

Really, what is the church but the people? The church isn’t an organization, although it needs to be organized. So when churches report zero conversions and zero baptisms, isn’t that a reflection on the individuals in that church? I know that sounds hard, but isn’t it the truth?

One thing that really blessed my heart at the National Conference was the number of people who nailed something to the cross on Sunday. That was a moving time for me. I was at the front and could hear how people pounded the nail into their slip of paper to pin it to the cross. Tears were shed as hearts were moved. Some people have reported to me what they nailed to the cross and the difference that commitment has made in their lives. That was as near “revival” as I have been for some time, and quite honestly I covet that more and more in my life and in the life of our church. We really do need a real revival.

While I appreciated that time, I know that the real test of revival is when we all get back home. Did anything change about how I live my life, how I react to my unsaved friends and relatives, how I go about my everyday life? We need a revival in many of our churches so that hearts will be changed…but the revival can’t stay in the church building. We must take it to our communities, to the barber shop or beauty shop, to the service station when we buy our gas, to the neighbor next door, to the person who takes our money at the local Burger King, to the classmate in school, to the family reunion…. “As you go about from place to place, don’t forget, MAKE Disciples.” When we truly get serious about that, we will see revival like we have not experienced it ever before. I don’t know about you, but my heart yearns for that!