Dirk Small resigned as pastor of Idaville UB Church (Idaville, Pa.). He has taken a staff position with Otterbein Church in Waynesboro, Pa. (a former UB church that withdrew in 2005). Idaville is now looking for a new senior pastor.

Doug and Ruth Weber Family

Doug and Ruth Weber and family, missionaries with HCBJ Radio, returned to Ecuador in August after a two-month furlough. In their September 2008 newsletter (which you can download in full as a PDF file), they told about what they did on furlough (technicallyl, called Home Ministry Assignment):

  • Traveled 8000 miles.
  • Slept in 21 different beds.
  • Visited with 21 different families.
  • Spoke at a camp and five churches.
  • Hosted two dessert and sharing times.
  • Spoke at a ladies tea.
  • Attended three reunions.
  • Celebrated four birthdays (and their own wedding anniversary).
  • Atended a colleged registration weekend.

They also moved daughter Rachel into her new home: a residence hall at Huntington University. She will major in Digital Media with an emphasis in animation. “She also has a real heart for ministry to junior high kids and would like to get involved with the youth at the church she will be attending. She has seen how god has provided for her needs and is excited about preparing herself for his service.”

The other three children are still at home. Daughter Becca is starting her junior year of high school in Ecuador, Daniel is starting 7th grade, and David is in 3rd grade.
Doug has returned ot his job as Radio Director, while Ruth has started her fifth year of teaching 3rd grade.

They write, “Becca and a friend wasted no time remodeling the room she shared with Rachel. They have re-painted the room and plan to paint some customized designs on the walls. Rachel’s “loft” is also being re-purposed as an “art room.

“Giving this room a fresh start is just what we want to do with this new term of service in Ecuador. Getting a fresh start can sometimes help us regain our perspective and prioritize the things that we do. With renewed energy, we can then accomplish the really important things in our family and ministry. We hope to do just that in the next 2 years.”

A few notes on some UB people.

  • Wardena Waldfogel, wife of Bishop Emeritus Raymond Waldfogel, spent 17 days in St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind. She came home on Friday, September 26, but was taken back to the hospital yesterday, suffering from low blood pressure problems and dehydration.
  • Pam Jones, wife of Healthy Church Ministries Director Pat Jones, suffered burns in one eye last week. Nearly one-third of her cornea was burned off, but it appears to be regenerating. Pray that that will happen.
  • It’s been two months since Polly Dunten‘s brain surgery. On Sunday, September 28, “Something happened that was just wonderful,” wrote her husband, Darwin, on Polly’s Blog. “Polly accompanied the main piano with the Clavinova during the first service at church Sunday. Then in the second service she sang her first special music since the surgery. Now, she is not quite 100% yet (maybe 90%), but we are still thankful. Sunday she also stole the keys to the car and drove to church. (I guess we will just have to nail her feet to the floor.)”

Psalm 96 invites us to “Sing to the Lord a new song… proclaim his salvation day after day.” Our generation has been blessed with many “new songs” to worship our Lord. I am grateful that our Campus Ministries team and Joyful Noise student worship band work diligently to lead us in worship experiences that are fresh and alive.

Sometimes, that means learning some “old songs.”  Earlier generations of believers also understood how to worship the Lord in vital, meaningful ways. Those old songs and forms of worship can become “new songs” as they are rediscovered by today’s college students.

This year, on most Friday mornings at 11:00 a.m., our campus community will celebrate “The Divine Hours,” a contemporary liturgical form of worship that blends prayer, scripture, meditations, creeds and silence into a modern worship experience based on centuries-old church practices. “The Divine Hours” will be part of our regular accredited chapel program and will be available to all students, faculty, and staff. Brief reflections will be presented by faculty members each week.

If you happen to be in Huntington on a Friday morning, please feel free to drop by Zurcher Auditorium and worship with us. You can see what’s planned for “The Divine Hours” – as well as for our Tuesday and Thursday chapels and Wednesday night Ekklesia services – on our campus calendar. Just visit www.huntington.edu/calendar and click the “Spiritual Life” tab.

In case you missed it the first time, here’s another promo for the November 1 conference in Wabash, Ind., with Dr. Kevin Leman. The event is called the 2008 Day of Healing.

In addition to Leman, over 20 other psychologists will be there, presenting workshops on a variety of subjects related to relationships, the family, and emotions. This is a good opportunity for ordained ministers looking to pick up another CEU for 2008.

At the MinistryCOM conference, the closing speakers (Jon Acuff, who runs the delightful StuffChristiansLike blog), made this point about people and churches who break new ground:

“When you go first, you give everyone else the gift of going second.”

I don’t know if we were the first denomination to oppose slavery–we probably weren’t–but our stand in the early 1800s no doubt emboldened other denominations to take such a stand. If we didn’t go first, we at least went early.

In 1853, we sent a whole wagon train of UBs from Iowa to start churches in Oregon. I’ll bet no denomination had done anything like that.

In 2005, we eliminated regional conferences–the middle-management layer–and cut assessments to a mere 3.5%. Churches in most denominations would salivate over paying just 3.5% to higher church administration. I know our example hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Several years ago, on vacation, Pam and I attended a Vineyard church that planned to always use rented facilities, rather than pour megabucks into facilities. We haven’t had a church follow through on that strategy. We need a first.

Where else have we gone first?

Where else do we need a United Brethren church to go first?

When I get together with presidents and leaders of other Christian colleges, certain issues always arise. As you might imagine, one recurring theme is economics.

Generally speaking, the Christian colleges have grown stronger over the past 15 years.

  • As a group, our enrollment increased faster than secular colleges and public institutions.
  • Many schools saw increases in adult and graduate programs as they developed degrees to meet the needs of traditional and non-traditional students.
  • Christian colleges became more focused on their mission.
  • They succeeded in helping people understand the value of a Christian college education, as opposed to a state or secular institution.
  • The message “Why you should send your student to a Christian college” got through to many more parents.

But we are always concerned about enrollment, because we are dependent on tuition, rather than state subsidies or large endowments. Dave Winters, the president of Westmont University for 25 years, noted that most Christian colleges are just one year away from being in bad fiscal shape. When it comes right down to it, Christian colleges are fragile institutions.

So when Christian college presidents get together, it is inevitable that we talk about freshmen, fundraising and finances. Budgets are tight. We depend on tuition and gifts for our life-blood. It’s not something unique to Huntington University, but is common among most Christian colleges and universities.

I read a lot of business-related books that have implications for the church. A book I read recently is “Transition: Making the Most of Change,” by William Bridges.

I’m intrigued by the idea of transitions. I believe that becoming a fully-devoted follower of Jesus is all about transitions. You have a conversion experience, but go through other transitions toward becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ. As a preacher, I want to see changes in people’s lives.