WinterSlam 2010 LogoJunior high and senior high students from UB churches are invited to attend WinterSlam 2010, a winter retreat in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. This annual retreat has existed for the past 20 years.

WinterSlam was originally sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Conference. Bobby Culler, youth pastor at Mount Pleasant UB (Chambersburg, Pa.) and a member of the denominational Youth Ministry Team, is in charge of the event. The retreat is sponsored in part by Huntington University.

The retreat is  held at the Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, a 250-acre retreat center at the foot of the Laurel Mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. That’s near the town of Mt. Pleasant, and southeast of Pittsburgh.

The cost for the retreat is $80, plus activity fees for such things as skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.

Go to the Youth Ministry page for complete information.

Balloons fall as the worship team plays.

Balloons fall as the worship team plays.

Pastor Jonathan Herron at a tailgating tent.

Pastor Jonathan Herron at a tailgating tent.

They called it Baptismapalooza. On November 15, Colwood UB (Caro, Mich.) baptized 40 people. And since baptism is a big deal–you’re publicly identifying with Christ–the church made it a very big deal.

Like the tailgating party. Pastor Jonathan Herron mentioned how we get excited about football and basketball games. Shouldn’t we get just as excited about somebody who gets raised from the dead? Maybe do tailgating for Jesus, too?

But that’s as far as he took it. The church office did nothing further–just planted the idea. What resulted was purely a grassroots thing. People arrived Saturday night to put up campers and tents. And all Sunday morning, out in the church parking lot, people were serving up food, including a truckload of bacon.

A powerful sound system was erected, too. Hunters three miles away said they could hear the music. Somebody even created a Facebook page just for the event. All grassroots-driven. People took the idea and ran with it. Ran far.

“Do the Oreo” appeared on signs and t-shirts made just for the event. That was a way Pastor Herron illustrated baptism–we dunk, immerse, Oreo cookies in milk. As opposed to just sprinkling on some milk. During the sermon series which led up to Baptismapalooza, he told how, as a Presbyterian preacher’s kid, he was sprinkled as an infant. But in 2005, he realized that baptism was supposed to be for believers. Infant baptism may be memorable and significant for the parents, but not for the infant. So, as a pastor, he was immersed before his own congregation.

Jonathan Herron prepared to baptize Clara, age 88.

Jonathan Herron prepared to baptize Clara, age 88.

His story resonated with some other people at Colwood. Like Clara, age 88. She was among the 40 believers who were baptized that day. “When an 88-year-old gets baptized, you better believe everyone was crying,” Pastor Herron says.

Baptismapalooza was designed as an outreach event, something you bring friends and relatives to. “We want to blow away the expectations of the unchurched and dechurched,” Pastor Herron says. “We wanted them to come to a party atmosphere.” Balloons dropped while the worship team played. Everyone who came received a printed invitation to the next outreach event, during the Christmas season. And when people come to that event, they’ll receive information about the next event, so that each outreach event builds on the next.

Ten people were baptized during the 9:45 service, with 287 people watching. The other 30 were baptized during the 11:15 service in front of 575 people. They videotaped testimonies of every person and edited them down. Show a video testimony, baptize that person. Show another video, baptize. There was no need for any other sermon that day.

Amber Herron, Jonathan’s wife, wrote on her blog, “I was so encouraged to see people have the same level of enthusiasm for lives changed by Jesus as they have for a favorite sports team….Not only were there tailgaters galore, but people brought cow bells and bull horns to cheer on those getting baptized. Totally unforgettable!”

Follow the link for more photos.


Pastor Tim Hallman and the children watch Brad Johnson carry in a baby pig.

Pastor Tim Hallman and the children watch Brad Johnson carry in a baby pig.

Tim Hallman with the children gathering around his laptop.

Tim Hallman with the children gathering around his laptop.

On August 17, children of Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) sold their own possessions to raise money for the poor. They raised $241, which was enough to provide several micro-business opportunities through Food for the Hungry–a dairy goat ($150), a pig ($50), 4 rabbits ($20), and a fruit-bearing tree ($25).

On November 15, Pastor Tim Hallman gathered the children around him at the front of the church to “place the order.” He opened his laptop, connected to the internet, and let them click on the links to actually send the donation to Food for the Hungry.

But first, to help illustrate what they were doing, one of the church members, Brad Johnson, entered the side door carrying a baby pig. The children had the chance to touch the pig; some did, some didn’t. But all were fascinated by the squirming animal.

Before the service, administrative assistant Pat Minch told Tim she would give him $5 if he kissed the pig. He said he wouldn’t do that for such a paltry sum. But as the children were attending to the pig, Pat walked to the front waving money in the air–this time, $100, which she emphasized would go to missions. All Tim had to do was kiss the pig.

And so, for $100, that’s what he did, much to everyone’s delight.

Jane Mason was the United Brethren archivist for over 20 years, finally stepping down in 1997 at age 80. She professionalized our a archive services, and was in charge when the archives was moved from the United Brethren offices to the lower level of the Huntington University library.

Jane’s daughter, Barb, wrote about her mom on her blog. For those of you who might know Jane, you’ll find Barb’s recollections interesting.

At Anchor Community Church, we’re always on the prowl for new worship songs. Most new songs we learn from Christian radio.  When we attend Christian events, we’re not particularly interested in hearing songs we already know. We want to hear new stuff. It’s disappointing to leave an event having heard the same ol’ songs.

We brought back two songs from last summer’s US National Conference, which we’ve incorporated into our repertoire: “Revelation Song” and “Let Me Sing.” Thanks, Mainstreet worship team!

A Willow Creek conference taught us “Lord I Will.” A Promise Keepers convention provided “I Am Free,” “Strong Tower,” and “How Great is Our God.” MinistryCOM introduced me to “Yes You Have” and Michael Neale’s “More and More.” All of these are now regular songs at Anchor, songs our people enjoy. The latest batch of “possibles” includes two songs I heard at this year’s MinistryCOM.

I’m no music expert. I’ve been playing on worship teams for 20 years, but I’m still basically a keyboard hacker with a rock-and-roll bent. But I see a lot of wonderful music being written today, music that connects with me and with our congregation.

And it’s not necessarily fluff or repetitive (as too many people stereotype contemporary Christian music). We’re talking songs with multiple verses, plus a bridge (which you don’t find in hymns). Songs that, if written in another era, would have been included in a hymnal and revered today.

Too many churches still fight music wars, with parishioners who have sung the exact same hymns for 60 years resisting the introduction of any new music. That always makes me sad…and very grateful for the wide-open attitude at Anchor.

We continually have changes in the Global Ministries staff, as people conclude their service with a particular organization. Here are two recent changes.

Mike and Jenny Burtnett no longer serve with Wycliffe. They had been stationed in Mexico, but new restrictions on foreign workers made it impossible for them to stay there. We understand that Mike is taking a position with a local church.

Anna Geivett went to Peru in 2006 with Food for the Hungry. She is back in the States, no longer serving with that organization. She has taken a position as Missions Director at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).

Stuart and Judy JohnsStuart Johns has been named senior pastor of Idaville UB (Idaville, Pa.) effective November 1. He and his wife, Judy, moved from Marietta, Calif. Stuart is currently an ordained minister with another church. He spent ten years, 1995-2005, as a Child Evangelism Fellowship director. Most recently, he was Director of Development Systems for Every Generation Ministries.

The United Brethren churches of Jamaica’s Easter District will hold a joint missionary service at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, November 29, at Washington Gardens church in Kingston. The theme is “Reaching the Lost and Needy, with Open Hearts and Hands.”

Deon McClennon writes, “We hope to sensitize the individual Christian and churches to the urgency of reaching the lost and needy (whether near or far), in every way possible as God blesses and enables us.”

Some of you remember Dennis and Debbie Osberg, former UB endorsed missionaries who served with a Christian school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. They have been back in Honduras for a couple years, but under not as UB missionaries.

In a recent newsletter, Debbie sent this note about the political situation.

“Things have settled down in the city. The curfews have been lifted and life seems to be back to “normal” for now. The presidential election is proceeding for Sunday, November 29, and all eyes are watching the outcome. The ousted President is still living in the Brazilian embassy and they’re still working on an agreement. Continue praying for God’s peace and hand to be on the country of Honduras.”

Kendal Sheen, Youth and Music Pastor, Kilpatrick UB (Woodland, Mich.)

I am a new youth and music pastor with the Kilpatrick United Brethren church. I wanted to spend some time with the teens to get to know them better and determine where they stood in their relationship with Christ, so I planned a weekend retreat at Camp Michawana in Hastings, Mich.

I was looking to bring in a speaker from Huntington University to make a connection with the youth and the University. I contacted Cathy Reich, the Administrative Assistant with Healthy Ministry Resources, but we couldn’t find someone to come speak with the youth.

Now that the weekend is over, I realize that God was moving his plan forward, not mine.

I spoke this past weekend to the group, which I believe is what God wanted from the start. He opened their hearts and minds during the weekend.

Five youth accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts and lives. Praise the Lord!