Six people, destination Sierra Leone, fly out of the airport in Fort Wayne, Ind., this evening around 6 p.m. A predicted blizzard left some doubts about their flight plans, but everything’s sunshiny right now, and they should escape this Hoosier cold spell on time.

They’ll fly to Chicago, meeting up with Robert and Fonda Cassidy, from Mt. Olivet UB church in Mt. Solon, Va. Then it’s on to London, where they’ll meet up with:

  • Ken Graham, a retired minister returning from a trip to Israel.
  • Mamee Simbo, on her way to join her husband, Rev. Billy Simbo, in Sierra Leone for the next six months.

They’ll arrive in Freetown about 7:30 Friday night, stay in a hotel near the airport, then go up-country to Mattru early Saturday morning.

The group will be in Sierra Leone until January 28. Then a second team will arrive. They’ll all stay in a house directly across from Mattru Hospital.

“Our primary purpose,” says Donna Hollopeter, Associate Director of Global Ministries, “will be medical work at Mattru Hospital, which will include doing daily rounds, seeing patients at the clinic they run daily, doing surgery, organizing the pharmacy, and whatever miscellaneous medical work needs to be done. Then three men will work on gathering information for future construction trips to Mattru to help with upgrades for the rooms and equipment.”

Here are the group members:

  • Donna Hollopeter, Associate Director of Global Ministries.
  • Jason Hollopeter, pastor of Corunna UB church in Corunna, Ind.
  • A former missionary doctor at Mattru.
  • Karen Sibery, a staff nurse at Auburn Family Medicine.
  • Sharon McDonald, a nurse from Auburn who works at Parkview North Hospital in Fort Wayne. She attends Corunna UB church.
  • Ray Proud, a mechanical engineer, going as one of the construction consultant. He is from Corunna UB.
  • Robert and Fonda Cassidy, from Mt. Olivet UB, Mt. Solon, Va. Fonda is a nurse, and Robert is going for the construction part. They have previously led trips to Central America.
  • Ken Graham, retired pastor from Mainstreet Church in Walbridge, Ohio.

Ten persons are on their way to Sierra Leone. Or will be, in a couple hours. Six people from northern Indiana will fly out of Fort Wayne around 6:00 tonight. They’ll meet two persons from Virginia in Chicago, then fly to London, where they’ll meet two more persons. Then it’s on to Freetown, Sierra Leone. They’ll arrive tomorrow night (Friday, Jan. 16) around 7:30.

This group will stay in Sierra Leone until January 27. Then another team–three doctors and a nurse–will arrive for a two-week stay at the hospital.


Phylis Stouder, right, displaying the Nutcracker soldier given as a parting gift. On the left is Marilyn Waters, the bookstore manager. Phylis and Marilyn have been a team for about 15 years.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director
Healthy Ministry Resources said good-bye to Phylis Stouder, who has worked there since October 1986. That’s 22 years. 

On Tuesday, January 13, we held a farewell luncheon for Phylis at the Habecker Dining Commons at Huntington University. Pat Jones and Jeff Bleijerveld were traveling, but everyone else was there. The staff gave her a couple gifts, including a Nutcracker wooden soldier to add to her collection. 
Phylis originally came as a secretary in what was then the Church Services department. I was editor of the monthly United Brethren magazine, and Phylis did a variety of chores for me, and helped out the others in the department–Paul Hirschy, Carlson Becker, Denny Miller–in whatever ways she could. 
Since 1993, Phylis has worked primarily with the bookstore. Every quarter, she packages hundreds of boxes of Sunday school materials. She also helps with everyone else’s mailings–the Bishop’s office, Global Ministries, you name it. If you receive something from the national office, Phylis probably had her hands on it. 
Phylis and her husband, Lowell, are members of College Park UB church in Huntington. They spent most of their married lives running a dairy farm (Lowell got out of that a while back). They’re also big Purdue fans. Please don’t ask Phylis for her opinion of Bobby Knight.
We’ll miss Phylis a lot. She worked hard and conscientiously, willing to do anything asked of her. 
Over the years, she learned how to do some of everything, an office jack-of-all-trades. We’ll miss her good sense of humor. 
Actually, Phylis will keep coming back occasionally to help in the bookstore or do mailings or whatever. But she’s basically retired, no regular hours. Which is what she wanted.
Twice a week, we start the day with office devotions. After our prayer time, Phylis would always say, “Have a nice day.” That was our signal to head to our desks and get started. We haven’t decided who will say that now.

On Sunday, January 11, the people of imagine this LLC (Life, Love, Community) entered into a partnership project with each other. After hearing a message focused on the parable of the faithful servants, each person was been given the opportunity of returning an increase from the resources entrusted to them, the Pastor Gordon Kettel challenged them to be that most faithful servant.

The challenge is to raise enough money to purchase an ark of animals from the nonprofit organization Heifer International. The cost of a project like this is $5000 per ark. These animals will be sent to a variety of locations across the world, wherever the need is the greatest. The range of animals consist of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, lamas, oxen, alpacas, and even bees.

Each person in attendance was given $20 to invest and use as seed money for the next 90 days. During that time, people can turn in money, and the amount will be posted on one of the large windows facing Jefferson Street in downtown Grand Ledge, so that everyone–whether part of the church or not–can see the progress. All the money will be used to buy as many arks of animals as possible.

When asked to explain the passing out of money to individuals, Pastor Gordon stated, “In the past when there has been a call to the faith community to stretch and demonstrate a deeper commitment, we have put all the risk on the individual. Today I wanted to show the faith community that it’s important for the church to take risks and trust the hearts of the people, even first-time visitors. I’m excited to see what God will do.”

The community is encouraged to get involved also, as this gift of animals will be coming from the Grand Ledge community, not the people of imagine this LLC.

Bishop Ron Ramsey has appointed Barry Skinner as the interim pastor at Kilburn Ave UB, Rockford, Ill. Barry is currently pursuing a BS in Religion and working toward Mastor of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divnity through Liberty University distance Learning Program. Barry lives in Mt. Morris, Ill.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop

A few weeks ago I suggested that you read the book “Prayer Coach” and that we begin a discussion around the ideas of that book. It has been longer than I intended, but at last here is my first post about this matter of prayer and coaching others to pray.
Before we get any further, be thinking: do you have a daily plan for spending time with God? Because I’d like to hear about it.
To introduce the subject, I want to begin with an example. 
Many years ago, probably around 1985, I developed the habit of reading five Psalms and five  Proverbs every day. I either heard or read years ago that Billy Graham follows this practice. 
While I was attending a convention representing Scripture Press, I found in another exhibitor’s booth a little book called “31 Day of Wisdom & Praise,” which has long since become out of print. This little booklet structures my Psalms/Proverbs reading. Each day I read five Psalms, and they are spaced 30 apart. For example:
  • On Day One of a new month I read Psalm 1, 31, 61, 91 and 121, and Proverbs 1. 
  • On Day Two, I read Psalm 2, 32, 62, 92 and 122, and Proverbs 2.
Today, January 13, I read Psalm 13, 43, 73, 103 and 132, and Proverbs 13.
As I read each day, regardless of how many times I have read it, I find new and exciting things that God seems to be saying to me. Even in personal times of deep disturbances of my heart, God has spoken to me with comfort and help. 
Yesterday I read Psalm 12:8, a verse I have read many times, yet this verse seemed to describe our culture. Listen:

The wicked freely strut about
when what is vile is honored among men.

Boy, is that true or what? Sin is being honored in our society and wicked people strut about. It is getting more and more pronounced. Wow! What a verse. Nearly every day I find a passage that speaks to me in a way that it has never spoken to me before. After all, if it is the Living Word, that is what we should expect. Is it not?
I follow the reading with a time of prayer. And I have adopted the pattern in my private prayer life to talk to God as I would talk to you. I would say that my private prayer is more of a dialogue with God than a “formal” prayer. I talk to him as a friend. In the past I have written my prayer out in a journal. For some reason I have not done that these past three years.
Now, I say all of this not to have you follow my plan but to ask a simple question: What is your prayer plan? Our prayer lives are lacking to the degree we have no consistent plan. If I skip a day or two or three or four etc., I really miss the time with God. 
So, I’d like to hear about your plan. Caution: don’t make something up to impress me. I’m not the one you have to impress. Post something in the comments (my preference, so others can see it), or use the “Contact” tab on the right to send me an email.


On January 9, Juanita Chavez was elected superintendent of Honduras National Conference. She is the first woman elected to the highest office of any United Brethren national conference.

She succeeds Francisco Raudales, who has held that position since 1996.

Here are some items of interest about Rev. Chavez:

  • Juanita was called to the ministry under the preaching of Archie Cameron. At the time, she was attending Ebenezer UB church in La Ceiba, Honduras.
  • Juanita was among the first nine students in the Bethel Institute in 1971, and one of the four students in its first graduating class.
  • She became director of the Honduras Bible Society in La Ceiba.
  • She served Honduras Conference as director of Church Services and as director of the Bethel Bible Institute.
  • In 1998, Juanita became pastor of the Ebenezer UB church in La Ceiba. 
  • Juanita was named one of four outstanding Christian leaders in La Ceiba (Archie Cameron was one of the others).
  • Juanita and her husband, Carlos, have been married for nearly 40 years.

Some of Juanita’s story is told in Tio Archie, the story of Archie Cameron and the development of Honduras Conference. Follow the link below for an edited excerpt specifically about Juanita Chavez.


Josh Kesler, pastor of Good Shepherd UB (Huntington, Ind.), reports: “As a break from the normal and an opportunity to combine our two services into one for a celebration of Christ’s birth, Good Shepherd rented the North Star Civic Center for our December 12 Christmas service.
“Weather was rough, but the Spirit was strong. It was a powerful service where two people made decisions to become followers of Jesus Christ for the first time. Nineteen other people made decisions to place Christ first in their life once again. It was an exciting time in the life of our church.”

Darwin Dunten, pastor of First UB (Findlay, Ohio), sent this Christmas-related information.
Findlay First UB gave out gift packets to the local prisoners in the county jail. The gift packets included socks, a pocket New Testament, a small candy bar, and a stamped Christmas card to send home to their family.
We also adopted a single mother who had cancer.
After Christmas, (the 26th) a group headed to Mexico to celebrate the Mexican Christmas with boxes filled with clothing, toys, and school supplies. They returned January 3.

Al Carter, pastor of West Pleasant Hill UB church (Rockbridge, Ohio), reports: “The youth at our church presented a short play called “Not the Last Straw.” It lead into a sharing of the Lord’s Supper. We had (by my count) at least 12 people who were normally not in our services.
“We also met at Pastor Al and Linda’s house for the New Years cellebration where we ushered in the new year with a candlelight and prayer vigil.”