Edna G. Davis, 77, of Elmore, Ohio, passed away Tuesday, December 6, 2011, with her family at her side. She and her husband, Rev. Keith Davis, were married in 1952 and served various United Brethren churches, including Bethel UB in Elmore, where she was a member. A strong supporter of Samaritan’s Purse, Edna made hundreds of Christmas shoeboxes over the years for Operation Christmas Child.

She is survived by her husband, Keith, and four children, 9 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be held at 9:30 am Friday, December 9, at Mt. Zion Cemetery, Wayne, Ohio. A celebration of Edna’s life will follow at 11:00 am at Bethel United Brethren Church, Elmore, Ohio. Memorial contributions may be made to Samaritan’s Purse (Operation Christmas Child) or the palliative care unit of Mercy St. Charles Hospital.

Condolences can be sent to Rev. Keith Davis at:

Keith Davis
15115 S. Portage River Road
Elmore, OH 43416

Bethany Solyntjes, worship leader at Renew Communities, has recorded her first album. Renew is a UB church plant in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.

Pastor Andy Sikora (right) writes, “It’s a Christmas EP called ‘Hope Renewed.’ It’s got an indie-folk feel to it and has some really cool re-workings of some of her favorite carols as well as one original. In my opinion it’s really good!

“Bethany and Chris (her husband) are like most church planters in that they are raising their salaries for the first few years of our church’s life. This record is one way that they are hoping to supplement their income. They are giving 10% of each sale to a church planting project of our church (yeah, our church is less than a year old and we’re working on planting one church locally and one internationally).”

You can read more about Bethany on the Renew website. You can listen to the six tracks and buy the digital or physical album for $10 on Bethany’s Bandcamp page.

Craft activities for children at an Asian schiool.

Craft activities for children in the Beautiful Family and Project Compassion programs.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

During November, a team of nine persons–eight from Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and one from Jerusalem Chapel (Churchville, Va.)–traveled to South Central Asia. In addition to providing a leadership development event, the team offered a variety of English conversation activities to 600 students at the local high school. Those activities included a fun-filled time of crafts, games, and Bible stories to 220 children who are part of our Beautiful Family and Project Compassion Ministries.

Getting to our ministry site involved some 16-hour flights and a 12-hour overnight train ride to the literal “end-of-the-line.” But the warm welcome and joy in the faces of the children in the leprosy and AIDS programs made it all worthwhile. During our time, 22 children made decisions to follow Jesus.

As a result of jail ministry of Findlay First UB Church (Findlay, Ohio), a prisoner gave his life to the Lord and wanted to be baptized during a Thursday night service. Because Pastor Darwin Dunten was not available that night, Pastor Robert Cochran of the First Lutheran Church of Findlay was able to perform the service.

Every Thursday night, a jail ministry team from First UB goes to the Hancock county jail to present a worship service/discipleship program for the inmates. Some of the inmates have started attending worship services and discipleship programs at the church. This particular inmate will not be attending worship services at Findlay First for about 6 years.

Hong Kong Conference has a Social Service Division which operates youth centers at several large high-rise estates which can house thousands of people. It’s a pretty big deal.

The Social Service Division surveyed 3207 students, ages 12-23, during October and November, asking them about their perception of love. They could choose among 39 possible characteristics of love. Their top 5:

  1. Trust.
  2. Consideration.
  3. Loyalty.
  4. Good communication.
  5. Honesty.

The bottom 5:

  1. Romantic.
  2. Satisfying sexual needs.
  3. Making surprises.
  4. Being able to provide support.
  5. Fulfilling materialistic desires.

Dean Hoobler, a longtime member of Kilburne Avenue UB (Rockford, Ill.), has a collection of about 750 nativity sets collected over the past 30 years. This year, as in some past years, the church hosted a public display of the nativity sets.

Wednesday night attenders at Findlay First UB Church

Wednesday night attenders at Findlay First UB Church

Polly Dunten (left) with her class.

Polly Dunten (left) with her class.

Last week, Findlay First UB Church (Findlay, Ohio) had the largest Wednesday night attendance in 12 years, with 57 participants. The elementary class had 27 children, and the adult prayer meeting is running out of room.

Pastor Darwin Dunten (right) writes, “Adults from our church are picking up these children and bringing them to church in their personal cars. Some cars are stuffed with children sitting on laps. Most of these children do not come from Christian homes. One girl stated, ‘What’s a Bible verse? Then she said, What’s a sanctuary? Another girl wanted us to pray for her mother and her boyfriend who are fighting, and for her father and his girlfriend who are not getting along. It breaks your heart, but what an opportunity.”

Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.) hosted a poverty simulation on November 18 to help people better understand what it’s like to live in poverty. The workshop was conducted by the Poverty Reduction Initiative, a Kalamazoo-based group that runs these workshops across the state of Michigan.

The simulation mainly drew members of Hillsdale County service organizations. Some attendees were assigned to family roles (schoolchildren, parents, teens, senior citizens), while others were given non-family roles (mortgage lender, business owner, etc.). Then the various persons interacted.

Through the simulation, participants were made more aware of specific problems poor people face, such as transportation, time constraints, quality of family life, difficulties in dealing with social agencies, the stigma of asking for help, and the importance of education in landing a job. They saw how parents, putting all their energy into just struggling to survive, had little left for family time. Sometimes children who ended up in juvenile centers were left there, because parents knew they would have food, shelter, and safety.

The purpose of the event was to help people think of ways to work together to help persons in need.

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson

This week,Hillary Clinton became the first US Secretary of State to visit Burma–now called Myanmar–in 50 years. This gives occasion to recall another historical event regarding Burma.

On February 6, 2012, the 200th anniversary of the first North American missionaries sent by a mission agency from North America will be remembered in Salem, Mass. The program itself will take place at Park Street Church in Boston at 7:30 pm.

And who were those first missionaries? Adoniram Judson, Jr. and his first wife, Ann Hasseltine.

As an American Baptist missionary, Judson served in Burma for almost 40 years. At age 25, he became the first Protestant missionary sent from North America to preach in Burma (present day Myanmar). His mission and work led to the formation of the first Baptist association in America, inspired many Americans to become or support missionaries, translated the Bible into Burmese, and established a number of Baptist churches in Burma.

All three of his wives died either at sea of from tropical diseases, as did a number of his children. Judson himself died at sea in the Bay of Bengal on April 12, 1850, at 61 years of age.

You can read more about the Judsons on Wikipedia.

First UB Church (Van Wert, Ohio)
Number of Shoeboxes: 18

Sue Miller of Van Wert UB writes, “The Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry is a group effort at our church. Our children from the AWANA program collected items for eight boxes. Our youth group brought in supplies to pack four more. Several families in our church filled the other 6, and many people helped to sponsor them. We brought all the boxes to the altar and asked a child or youth to stand next to each box as we prayed for the children and families that would receive these gifts. We have participated in Operation Christmas Child as a church for about ten years.”

Criders UB Church (Chambersburg, Pa.)
Number of Shoeboxes: 71

Chip Stottlemyer of Criders UB writes, “We had a shoebox packing party and the Kids Club, Youth Group, and many adults joined in wrapping and packing for our shoeboxes. A team of youth and some adult leaders delivered them and some extra items to the regional collection point and assisted there along with about 100 other people sorting and packing more boxes. What a blessing to be part of this ministry.”