Mainstreet Church held the Grand Opening for its new facility on October 21. Bishop Ron Ramsey, the lead pastor at Mainstreet for ten years prior to being elected bishop in 2005, attended. The $4.5 million, 34,000 square-foot building is located on 42 acres of land, and features a 500-seat sanctuary. The average attendance runs about 600.

The congregation originally planned to build a 58,000 square foot facility costing about $6 million, but scaled back when they couldn’t find a buyer for the previous property located on Main Street. They then began considering using both sites. The previous building, about three miles away, has been renovated for youth ministry and offices for about half of the church’s 14 staff members. The new building can be easily expanded.

Marty Pennington is the lead pastor of Mainstreet Church. You can read much more about the new facility an article in the Toledo Blade’s online edition.

Fountain UB in Keyser, W. Va., is again serving as a collection point for Operation Christmas Child. An article in Keyser’s Mineral Daily News-Tribune tells about the program. Shoeboxes will be collected November 12-17 and forwarded to a Samaritan’s Purse distribution center. Last year, Fountain collected 8042 shoeboxes; this year’s goal is 8200.

A number of United Brethren churches have participated in Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. The shoeboxes contain such items as toys, T-shirts, socks, hard candy, school supplies, and hygiene items. Since the program started in 1993, over 54 million shoebox gifts have been given to children in 134 countries, including 7.6 million shoeboxes in 2006 alone.

The course “Effective Christian Leadership” will be taught November 6 at Rhodes Grove Campground in Chambersburg, Pa. This course is part of the camp’s continuing education ministry, The Ecclesiastes Institute. The course, which involves essential leadership components that today’s Christian leaders need, will be taught by Rev. Carl Shank, formerly on the pastoral staff at Antrim Brethren in Christ church and now ministering in Mount Joy, Pa. Participants can earn .5 Continuing Education Unit from Lancaster Bible College. The time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can register online, or call the camp office: 717.375.4162. Registrations are requested by October 29. A buffet lunch is included.

I’m sitting in a training/discussion meeting in St. Louis right now with Ed Stetzer, one of the most articulate, informed researchers in America today regarding the Church. It is very insightful and stimulating.

My mind is wandering down many different trails. But there is key point that should be the focus of our discussions of conducting an extreme makeover for the church. There are three key elements we have to coordinate to be effective.

First is a clear Christology. What is it we really believe about Jesus Christ? About the Bible? About the condition of man apart from Christ? About God the Father? About the future coming of Christ? So in other words, what is it we believe and how is that shown in our lives?

Second, what is our Ecclesiology? Ecclesiology is the study of the church. What do we believe about the church? What does the church look like in the Bible? What are the essentials for the church today? What forms do we hold on to in our churches that are not Biblically mandated? What is the context of our church and do we as a church fit our context?

Third, Missiology? What is our Mission? Whose mission is it? Are we in tune with the mission? Jesus Christ is the embodiment of that mission; the Holy Spirit is the power of that mission; the church is the instrument of that mission; and the culture is the context in which that mission occurs. Is there a way for us to fulfill the mission more effectively?

What do you think? I would be interested in hearing how you see the answers to these questions for your church and for you.

On October, an urgent call to prayer was sent to the denominational email list for Cheryl Leighton, wife of Joe Leighton, pastor of Salem Chapel UB in Junction City, Ohio. On September 4 she went into the hospital, experiencing some problems, and cancer was discovered. She has been hospitalized ever since, and her condition was extremely critical.

On October 9, Joe Leighton sent this report about his wife’s condition:

Cheryl went to have a mass removed from an ovary on September 4. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure. What the doctor found instead were enlarged lymph nodes behind the ovary, and those he removed. Cheryl has been diagnosed with mantel cell lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. It responds well to treatment and can be brought into remission, but presently there is no cure. This cancer has released a chemical that causes a disorder known as FSGS, which severely messes with the kidneys’ filtration process and ability to function.

Cheryl’s kidney function fell to 25%. As a result, her weight ballooned from 135 pounds to 240 pounds. Complications from dialysis led to internal bleeding, and she came within minutes of dying on September 25. She suffered respiratory failure and her bowels also quit. Two liters of blood were drained from her chest cavity and she was given 6 units to replace what was lost.

In the last five days there has been remarkable improvement. She is fully awake from the sedation. Dialysis has removed 85 pounds of fluid and her bowels have regained function and her kidneys are working at about 50%. She had a trach put in, but has been removed from the ventilator and is breathing on her own now. Tomorrow (October 11) she is scheduled to have a blood clot removed from her left lung. Our hope is that within the next few days she will be released from ICU and be returned to The James for her second round of chemotherapy (which she seems to be tolerating well). After that a couple weeks of therapy and then I get to bring her home, where she will continue chemotherapy on an outpatient basis as we try to get her into remission.

There is a lot of research in this area, and if we can get her into a good remission of 2-3 years, it is possible that a cure may be found. If not, and the cancer returns, it is possible to get her back into remission and extend her time while research continues. Or, perhaps the Lord will extend mercy and bring a miracle.

To be honest, it has been a most difficult time, but the Lord has really sustained us and many people have supported us. I cannot say enough good things about our wonderful congregation at Salem Chapel. Those folks have been incredible and awesome. And Cheryl has remained positive and kept her sense of humor and is determined to fight this disease and overcome the complications it has thrown her. And so again, please accept my thanks for making our situation known, and for the wonderful and uplifting response it has solicited.

The Leightons can be reached at this address:

Joe and Cheryl Leighton
3850 Tschopp Road NE
Lancaster, OH 43130

Huntington University has a record enrollment of 1,153 students for the fall semester of the 2007-2008 school year. That includes a record 923 undergraduate students. The incoming class of freshmen, transfers, and readmitted students is the largest on record with 299 students. After celebrating its new satellite location in Wabash, Ind., on September 4, the EXCEL Program for Adults achieved a record enrollment of 141 students.

Dr. G. Blair Dowden, president of Huntington University, says, “Our Strategic Plan sets forth the ambitious target of 2,000 students by 2016. With our increase to 1,153 students this fall, we are well on our way to achieving our goal.”
The reach of the institution also is expanding. Distinctive academic programs, including new bachelor’s degrees in nursing, Spanish and Spanish education, digital media arts, economics and finance, political studies, social work, sports ministry and worship leadership, have attracted students from 29 states and Puerto Rico. This fall, 35 international students have come to Huntington University from 17 countries.

Hillsdale UB of Hillsdale, Mich., launched a new community outreach on September 29. Through a national organization called Angel Food Ministries, the church provides a large box of name-brand items for $25, or about one-third the cost of buying it at grocery stores. Gospel literature is placed in each box, along with info about Hillsdale’s ministries.

People in the church purchase food for themselves as well as make donations for boxes to be delivered to needy people in the community. The Angel Food deliveries are made the last Saturday of each month.

This is an expansion of Hillsdale’s benevolence ministry, which has resulted in several of the needy in Hillsdale County being introduced to the church. A number have been saved and baptized, and have become active members of the church. Over the last nine years, about 500 people have come to Christ at Hillsdale UB.

On September 12, Hillsdale launched a 13-week course by Dave Ramsey. The Financial Peace University meets each Wednesday evening with 53 people enrolled, including a few from outside the church.

The UB church in Milltown, South Dakota, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. This register was created to recognize properties which contribute to the prehistoric and historic development of localities, states, and the nation. Each state participates by identifying and recognizing important sites to preserve the visible remnants of our country’s heritage for future generations. This is the only UB church in South Dakota.

Chip Bruestle, from the Atlantic Avenue UB church in Franklin, Pa., ran in last year’s Marine Corps Maraton to raise money for a local club. This year, he’s collecting pledges for his church, which hopes to break ground for a $2.5 million expanded sanctuary next spring. The Marathon will take place on 28 in Washington D.C.