I don’t know how I got on the email list for Beyond Borders, but I received an email from them yesterday. The subject is something that we have a lot of problem with in the UB Church: gossip (I don’t think we are unique in that). I suggest that you read the little article by Carl Richardson called “They Say.”

One of our staff members in Macau writes:

Going to the Olympics was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I’m not actually that huge of a sports fan, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to experience the atmosphere of the Olympics…and it was!

I think the thing I enjoyed most was just the excitement and joy among all of the Chinese there.  They were so excited and proud to be hosting the Olympics. The volunteers were all very sincere, and knew enough English phrases to at least tell us to enjoy the games. Many of them were retirees, and I’m sure they had never imagined that China would have an opportunity like that.

This year will go down in history for China for so many reasons, and I’ll be glad I got a close-up glimpse of it.


Submitted by Ron Watterly, pastor of McCallum UB church, Delon, Mich.

Jerry Johncock recently completed his 103rd marathon. That’s normally not a newsworthy item. Did I mention that Jerry is 80 years old? He not only completed the race, he set a new national record for runners in his age group, four hours, 11 minutes, 51 seconds.

Johncock is a member of McCallum UB church in Delton, Mich. He took up running at age 50 as a way to bond with his five sons, and has been at it ever since. He competes in several races annually. Racing is sort of in the Johncock blood. A cousin is Gordon Johncock, winner of the 1973 Indy 500.

Jerry was raised in the McCallum church. After high school, he attended Huntington College with the intention of becoming a teacher. His education was cut short by a stint in the Navy. After the Navy, he married Dorlene Ramie.

Through the years, Jerry served as a traveling evangelist, missionary to Mexico, and pastor of the Otsego, Mich., UB church. He never made it back to Huntington, but did complete vocational training at Michigan Career and Technical Institute and worked as a television repairman.

Of the five sons, Mark, the youngest, graduated from Huntington University and is employed at the Michindoh Camp and Conference Center (Hillsdale, Mich.). Jim, next to the oldest, is chairman of the administrative board at McCallum. Besides raising their own children, the Johncocks provided a home for numerous foster children over the years.

We adopted the cluster system at the 2005 National Conference. At that time, two competing philosophies were at work:

  1. We need to do everything at the cluster level, including who leads the cluster and what they do. Don’t appoint cluster leaders. 
  2. We want clear direction. Tell us what to do, and appoint our cluster leader.

We’ve tried letting clusters develop the way most helpful to them, with the basic focus of churches becoming outward focused and healthy. But some structure works better for many of our pastors. So I’m working on ways to have more structure, but great flexibility, basically telling them, “Here are some things we’d like you to consider, but you figure out how to do it.” 

Every group is unique. I sent out surveys to see if pastors felt their cluster was effective and helpful to them. I found that a majority of the pastors enjoy their cluster and enjoy getting together, with a few guys wanting more instruction and leadership development. We’ve had people change clusters, because they wanted a more intentional approach and a nearby cluster was doing that. For the most part the clusters are working.

I sent a note to Owen Gordon (right), UB endorsed missionary and president of Jamaica Bible College, commenting on how excited Jamaica must be over the success of their sprinters in the Olympics. Owen responded:

“Oh yes Steve. There has been a euphoria that has swept across the country. People gathered in groups to celebrate. It reached a high when the 4×100 relay was being run. People felt badly for Asafa Powell, so when he took off in the final leg and broke the world record…it was simply GREAT!

“We all are hoping that this new inspiration will have a positive effect on all of us as Jamaicans, and that the scourge of crime and violence will be addressed.

“This has been a great Olympics for Jamaica: six gold medals, three silver and two bronze. For such a very small country, we all feel very proud of the athletes. The government and the country is planning a big welcome celebration!”

Darwin Dunten, pastor of First UB in Findlay, Ohio, is posting daily about the progress of his wife, Polly, after undergoing surgery July 28 to remove a brain tumor. There are good days and bad days. You can send notes of encouragement to 

Valerie Reynolds, Senior Pastor, Mt. Hope UB, Carson City, Mich.
Last week I spent some time with John and Valerie Reynolds in Carson City, Mich., where Valerie is pastor of the Mount Hope UB. She showed me an article she wrote for the local newspaper. I liked it and wanted to share it here.– Ron Ramsey

What’s happening to church today? Part of the problem is that we misunderstand the nature of the church. Our language is a dead give-away. We talk about “going to church,” the same way we talk about going to the store, going to the mall, or going to Wal-Mart.

We think of the church as a place we visit–and leave–rather than the reality that we should be living “church” every day. The early Christians, however, didn’t talk about “going to church.” They talked about being the church.

Acts 2: 42-27 is an example of “being the church.”

“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe–all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple, followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.”

After Peter’s sermon, “there were added about 3000 who became believers.” And it happened because the people were not just going to church, but they were being church. They lived it. They did these things “day by day.” These early believers were still rubbing shoulders with people in their community. They didn’t sever all relationships with unbelievers–and neither should we.

Every day we should be rubbing shoulders with neighbors, coworkers, friends, family, clerks at stores and gas stations. The early church grew because they tried to meet needs outside of the church as well as within it.

They didn’t come to church to sit in a pew. They came to church to learn, fellowship, share meals, and then go out and impact their world.

As mature, growing, or new believers, we need to remember that our conversion is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. Be the church.

Jeff Bleijerveld and Donna Hollopeter are at the Salem UB church (Chambersburg, Pa.), conducting the first of four Mission Team Leadership Training events. The training will last through Saturday. The goal is to train persons who can lead mission trips.

Nine people pre-registered for the Pennsylvania edition. You can still register for the events in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. 


L-r: Lee Shortridge, Michael Slane, Jonathan Krull, Jay Duffer.

Four new members are joining the Huntington University faculty this fall.

Lee Shortridge, assistant professor of art. His resume includes a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1982 from Rosary College Graduate School of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy (he focused on drawing and painting). Shortridge has taught courses for Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Oral Roberts University, Bradley University, and Northeastern University. His areas of expertise include graphic design and fine arts.

Michael Slane, assistant professor of theatre. He holds a Masters degrees in theatre from the University of Kentucky (2001) and Ohio University (2008). His areas of expertise include theatre design and technology.

Jonathan Krull, visiting professor of philosophy (a one-year appointment). He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., and is pursuing his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of South Carolina.

Jay Duffer, visiting professor of theatre (one-year appointment). He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre arts from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from Baylor University. He is a professional actor, director and playwright. He has performed in venues ranging from Off-Broadway and New York theatre to regional houses as well as working in productions overseas.

For the past few years, Duffer has directed the popular New York-based sketch comedy troupe, Freedumb. The troupe played to sold-out crowds at the 2006 and 2007 Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, the 2005 and 2006 Toronto International Sketch Comedy Festival, and the 2007 DC Comedy Festival. From 2004-2007, he served as the executive director of New Works for Threads Theatre Company, a faith-based arts company that promotes and supports Christian writers in the secular marketplace.

You can read more about them on the Huntington University news page.

My children gave me a large book for Christmas, The All Encompassing History of Country Music. It’s been fun reading that. It’s not the type of book you sit down and read cover to cover. I read it in sections. 

Interestingly, a lot of country and bluegrass music has roots in Scottish music. Ramsey is a Scottish name. Maybe that’s why I have such an affinity for country music. 

I don’t like all country music, because some of it is trash, but I like the old stuff, the bluegrass. A lot of the early bluegrass had Christian themes to it. Probably my favorite song of all time is “Great Speckled Bird,” an old bluegrass song from a long time ago. The Great Speckled Bird is mentioned in the Bible; see if you can find it. 

At Mainstreet Church, whenever someone complained about our music, I would tell them, “I don’t like it either. You should be glad you’re not singing what I like, because it would be with a twang.” When I left, they brought in a bluegrass band for the going-away party.