The Excel staff. Dr. Rick Upchurch, clad in his chef’s apron, is on the left. Sharon Custer is front-right.

One of the nice perks of working at Healthy Ministry Resources is rubbing shoulders with the staff of the Huntington University Graduate School. They all have offices in our building. The ones we see most often are with the EXCEL adult education program. Among them is Sharon Custer.sharon_200.jpg

Sharon Custer (right) has taught at Huntington University for 36 years, since 1973. She is retiring from the university this year. She will continue doing some teaching for EXCEL, but looks forward to spending time with grandchildren and going on motorcycle road trips with her husband, Lee (who plans to teach one more year at Huntington North High School).

Yesterday morning, the EXCEL staff held a going-away breakfast for Sharon. Rick Upchurch, director of the EXCEL program, made chocolate gravy, if you can imagine the concept.

Some of you may have had Sharon for classes at Huntington. We all wish Sharon well.

A strong earthquake hit Honduras this morning. Juanita Chavez, superintendent of Honduras Conference, sent this note:

“By God’s grace we are fine here in Honduras. Seven of our superintendents have been in touch and tell me that all our people, pastors and families are thanking God as none have suffered personal or material injuries with the exception of Puerto Cortes. Pastor Janiria reports damage to the church and parsonage. Walls and floors were affected, and the parsonage is uninhabitable.

“This evening the pastor will be staying with family. The cement for the patio around the church building is also damaged. We’re listening closely to the recommendations on the radio and television as tremors continue. Although they are less violent, citizens are still on edge. We thank the Lord for His mercies.”

Bobby Culler, Youth Pastor, Mt. Pleasant UB (Chambersburg, Pa.)

Greetings from the UB Youth Lead Team. We are fresh off our amazing week of refreshment and refueling in Daytona Beach during the 2009 Youth Summit. It was an awesome time together, and God certainly did some neat things in us and among us during our time together. We were hoping to become more deeply “Rooted” in Christ and scriptures and in our relationships with each other, and that definitely happened.

Perfect weather and some great spiritual discipline experiences led by our speaker for the week, Dr. Jerry Davis (Huntington University), made for a fantastic week of connecting and reconnecting.

This is an annual event planned and organized by our team–a bunch of youth pastors who are and have been in the trenches of youth ministry for several years.

And speaking of the team–we would love to come alongside you and help you become better equipped and more effective in youth ministry as together we work to make an eternal difference in this generation of teenagers. If there is ever anything we can do for you and/or the leaders of your youth ministry, please do not hesitate to email us.

The names and photos of team members can be found on the UB website. It would be an honor for us to help you in any way we can. Also, keep an eye on the UB website for future youth ministry events and training opportunities. Together…let’s work hard to make teenage disciples for Jesus Christ.”


Oh ye of little faith. Registrations keep climbing toward the 900 mark, which we hit in 2007. Here’s how things look right now:

857 people registered.
182 ministerial delegates
195 lay delegates
120 teens and children
138 people attending the UB Historical Society banquet.
26 signed up to play golf each day (Thursday and Saturday)
22 attending the LEAD Team (church multiplication) lunch on Friday.

We also have 47 former missionaries registered. They’ll be recognized Saturday on Missions Night. Global Ministries is using the theme “Looking Back, Looking Ahead,” to recognize both our rich history in missions and where the Lord may be taking us in the years ahead.

All of the reports have now been posted online. Delegates received most of them by mail a couple weeks ago, and will get the rest when they arrive.

If you’re attending as a delegate, you might want to download a copy of the UB Discipline. It may come in handy during the business meeting. At the least, you can use it for devotional reading.

You may need to replace your wireless microphone, if it operates in the 700 MHz band. Here’s why.

On June 12, TV transitions from analog to digital. This move freed up space in the 700 MHz band, which the government auctioned off. Verizon, AT&T, and other companies spent billions of dollars buying the rights to this spectrum. And they’re going to use it for new services–cell phones, data services, emergency services, and more.

As a result, your 700 MHz mic system will encounter interference. The Federal Communications Commission didn’t set a date for when churches (and others) must stop using their 700 MHz systems, but you can bet that churches will be forced out at some point. Verizon and the others spent too much money to allow encroachers.

Christianity Today published an excellent article called “Understanding New Wireless Microphone Restrictions.” (Thanks to Tom Datema for notifying us about it.) Some points made in the article:

  • Your 700 MHz mics won’t suddenly stop working. However, you’ll be at risk of interference from other services.
  • Churches in cities will probably notice interference before churches in small towns and rural areas.
  • The most efficient and cost-effective option is to replace the 700 MHz mics with mics in the 500 MHz band.
  • Churches can donate their 700 MHz  equipment to churches in countries not affected by the US changes.

While I was visiting in Pastor Eric’s church in San Jose, Costa Rica, I met one fellow who came out of a drug addiction background. He first came to the church to case the joint–see what kind of sound system they had, so he could come back and steal it. Instead, he became a Christian. If he doesn’t become a pastor or preacher in some way, I’ll be surprised.

He developed a huge tumor on his neck, about the size of a soccer ball. It was intertwined with his vocal chords. The doctor said, “You can have the surgery, but you’ll probably never speak again.” The church prayed over him. He speaks a little rough, but he has a voice and he intends to use it.

At this same church, we heard a knock at the door, and a fellow entered with his wife and two young children (in pajamas). He had been influenced by the church for some time. He was a heroin addict, and wanted to be set free. We prayed with them as he confessed his sin and accepted Christ into his life.

Chuck McKeown, pastor of First UB of Holly Hill, Fla., reported yesterday (Saturday, May 23), “As of Friday we had 29.5 inches. Today (Saturday) we got another inch. The water is going down quickly and work teams will start cleaning-up tomorrow.”

Vicki McKeown, from First UB of Holly Hill, Fla., add this on Sunday, May 24: “This newspaper article confirms what we knew to be true already. Our community in Holly Hill seems to have taken the brunt of the rain and flooding this week. The forecast predicts more rain on the way. We have several church families with inches of water standing in their homes. Many more in the community are affected. Pray that we’ll be effective as the body of Christ to our neighbors! Unfortunately, this area is probably the poorest and will suffer the most.”

Pat Jones, Director of Healthy Church Ministries

I received a call from Chuck McKeown, pastor of First Church in Holly Hill, Fla. They had been in a drought condition, but since Monday have received 26 inches of rain. There is nowhere for it to go, and most of the area around Holly Hill and Ormond Beach (just north of them) is totally flooded. Chuck said it is almost worse than when they get hurricanes.

They are setting up the church as an emergency care center. They are in need of any teams that would be willing to come down and help their families and other families in their community to pull carpets and mattresses and help begin the process of recovery. He indicated that most of the folks do not have flood insurance, so this is going to devastate them financially as well.

If you have folks who can and would like to help, please coordinate through Chuck. His contact info and the address for the church are:

Pastor Chuck McKeown
First UB Daytona
1650 Center Avenue
Holly Hill, FL 32117
Office: 386-677-6940
Cell: 386-547-4005

His cell would probably be the best way to get him.


L-r: Pastor Dan and Mary Alice Drake, Zachary Kennedy, and Courtney Clark.

Last Sunday, May 17, I was privileged to participate in a service at Olive Branch Church of Lakeville, Ind. (just outside of South Bend). I was there to install Zachary Kennedy as the church’s Young Adult and Youth Pastor.

This is a historic thing for Olive Branchy–their first staff hire ever, as far as I know. Zachary graduated this spring from Bethel College in nearby Mishawaka, Ind. He and Courtney are to be married June 13. For now, the new position will be part-time, but the church is praying tha tit can become fulltime in the very near future.

The US Postal Service brought us an Easter story from Liberty UB church in Stockport, Ohio. Mike Turner, a layperson, writes:

“We started at 7 a.m. with 46 in our sunrise service. Those present were encouraged to take part with testimonies, songs, readings, etc. After the sunrise service, Pastor Charles Simmons’ adult twin sons fixed breakfast for all attending. They do this for their dad every year to honor him. It was a great time of fellowship and good food. Charlie had 82 to preach to in morning worship.

“In 2008 we averaged 36 in morning worship. So far in 2009 we are averaging 52. Charlie is preaching the Word. Christians are praying. Seekers are coming. God is good, all the time.”