This fall, Huntington University’s online programs are expanding to include degree programs in marketing and nursing. Both will be offered through the EXCEL Adult Degree Program.

  • RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). This degree prepares graduates for management and higher-level patient-care positions. This program will also be offered onsite in Huntington and Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Marketing. This degree includes specialized training in advertising and salesmanship, digital marketing, public relations, social media, market research, and graphic design. This program is also offered onsite in Huntington and Columbia City, Ind.

Dr. Paul R. Fetters

When an ashen cross is lightly marked on the forehead of a Christian participating in an Ash Wednesday service on February 22, worshippers who are present are reminded that we are earthly creatures made from the dust of the earth.

“…all come from dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecc. 3:20b)

As children of God, we will remember our baptism into the Christian faith and our journey with our Saviour following conversion. We will remember that we are the body of Christ, living in community with others who wear the smudge of the cross.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. Throughout the Christian Church, this season is known as a time of repentance and turning from sin and renewal of faithfulness to the Gospel. Ashes and sackcloth were symbolic of repentance, sorrow, and grief in the Old Testament, throughout the intertestamental centuries, and in the New Testament as alluded to by Jesus.

The Lenten Season spans 40 days of spiritual devotion marked by three spiritual disciplines: alms-giving, fasting, and praying.

Since the time of my new birth at the Willshire Zion Church of the United Brethren in Christ, I have been observing the spiritual disciplines of the Lenten Season–fasting (the denying of self), alms-giving (self-denial offering for missions), and praying (reflecting on and meditating upon the suffering and death of Jesus Christ). For many including myself, the receiving of the ashes has become a meaningful part of the observance.

As Christian believers, foregoing or receiving the ashes, let us welcome the Lenten Season.

John Pessima (right), the new bishop of Sierra Leone Conference, came to the United States last fall to meet with the Global Ministries Leadership Team. During that time, he sat down with Communications Director Steve Dennie for an interview. The resulting article, much longer than a regular UBCentral post, is published in the new “Features” section of UBCentral.

Bishop Pessima talks about his childhood and call to the ministry, his experiences during the rebel war, his leadership team in Sierra Leone, various bright spots in the conference, and his priorities as bishop in seeing Sierra Leone Conference move forward.

Read the full article about Bishop John Pessima.

A scene from "Refresh"

Benjamin Kroll (left) and Sean Cruse

Bethany Doyle

As a young man in New York City, Sean Cruse did not realize that his journey to become an animator and filmmaker would lead him to the American heartland.

He was originally interested in a college on the southern Atlantic coast with access to beaches and year-round warmth. After further investigation, though, he became dissatisfied with that school’s animation program. So, it was off to visit another campus, surprisingly nestled among the cornfields of Indiana. Cruse says the decision to check out Huntington University was a “leap of faith.”

“I originally did not want to attend Huntington. My dad and I drove around to scout out the surroundings and ended up in some field somewhere,” Cruse recalls. “But once I saw the facilities and talked with the professors, that’s when my mind immediately changed.”

Cruse is quick to point out that once he chose Huntington, he never doubted the decision.

Early in his college career, the university brought to campus a band that supported an organization called Blood: Water Mission. It was his first exposure to the serious issue of humans living without clean water. The experience awakened him to the reality of brothers and sisters in Christ living without basic needs.

“Huntington’s message is ‘Christ@Center’ but how do you get Christ to the center of someone who doesn’t even live past the age of 5 because he died from a water-borne disease?” Cruse asks. “It’s such a basic thing. I don’t understand. We’re in 2011, and there’s been a long time to solve this problem, and it’s just not happening yet. It can happen, and I want to see it happen.”

That concern ignited the idea for Cruse’s junior project in the digital media arts program. “Refresh,” a stop-motion short film, deals with the disparity between people who are privileged and those who live without. The film portrays a businessman going about his day, buying bottled water from a vending machine, watering his lawn and feeding an aquarium full of fish. These scenes are juxtaposed with images of a mother and daughter in Africa who take a long journey to bring jerry cans of dirty water back to their village.

During the last scenes of the short film, the businessman is shown retrieving his mail while a hose is watering his lawn (and driveway). As he walks inside, he slips on the wet pavement of his driveway, spilling his mail into the puddles and soaking his clothes. The next scene shows the mother and daughter journeying back toward their village with their containers of precious water. The young girl falls, spilling much of the water from her heavy jerry can. The mother helps her up and carries both containers the rest of the way.

The film leaves the audience contemplating how they use limited resources and freshly motivated to help those with less.

“I am blessed to be in this country (but) it’s not following out my faith to ignore my brothers and sisters in need around the world,” Cruse said. “This is where my passion comes from — the teachings of Jesus.”

Cruse’s commitment was contagious. Two fellow senior animation majors and members of the project team, Benjamin Kroll of Mount Lake Park, Md., and Matthew Weener of Hudsonville, Mich., soon shared the same motivation.

“Seeing Sean’s passion for this issue has instilled in me an awareness that has caused me to rethink my priorities,” Kroll said. Although Kroll grew up as a missionary kid familiar with poverty struggles around the world, working on “Refresh” gave him a new awareness of the magnitude of the struggle for clean water.

“Refresh” took the 2011 film festival circuit by storm, appearing in five separate festivals in the U.S. and Canada. Most recently, “Refresh” was shown at the Columbus (Ohio) International Film & Video Festival (CIFVF).

Matt Swift, adviser for the Ohio State University Film Studies and division chair for the student division of the CIFVF, was highly impressed with “Refresh.”

“I really liked the point behind ‘Refresh,’” Swift said. “It has a good message. You really feel for the characters, and it scored very high. Other films got mixed up with their message. ‘Refresh’ was very clear cut, and this made it a very strong film.”

Cruse appreciates the film’s acceptance into the festivals, but has a bigger goal.

“I’m more excited that the message is being spread,” he said. “We want people to not only become educated about the issue but to actually go do something about it.”

You can watch “Refresh” below.

First UB church is expanding its food pantry ministry, and did a nice little video about it. Pastor Chuck McKeown wrote on Facebook on February 10, “The pantry building is almost finished. We were able to use it yesterday. Looks like the cost will come in just under $20,000. We need about $8,000. to finish the project.”

Ron and Brenda Anderson are endorsed Global Ministries staff serving in Spain with European Christian Mission International. Here’s a video update they did around the recent Foundations training course. Ron explains, “Brenda and I spent the last week of January working with a group of ECM missionaries stationed in Spain, Albania, England, and France.  This was a time to encourage them in their new missionary career and to help equip them to have the resilience to make the sacrifices necessary to do what God has asked them to do.”

Phil Whipple, Bishop of the US National Conference

In July 2011, I concluded two years as bishop. When I started in this role, I decided I wanted to see things for myself. So I set a goal of visiting every United Brethren church in the United States during my first two years. I wanted to meet our pastors on their turf.

I accomplished that goal. Here are some observations from my travels.

1. I found our pastors to be enjoyable people with a strong love for the Lord and his church. Our pastors are mostly male and of the baby boom generation. They are committed to their families and have a fairly strong commitment to the UB church. We have some strong pastoral leaders among us and many who want to learn how to lead more effectively.

2. It is no surprise that many of our churches exist in rural locations. Most of them have been maintained very well, both inside and outside. Many are developing their facilities to reflect the changes that have emerged in the methodology of doing church today.

3. We are slowly and with some struggles moving into a balanced style of worship in many churches. Some churches are far ahead of others. Some remain very traditional.

4. We have many good cooks among us. I can attest to that from many potlucks.

5. Our people are friendly. I was impressed by the warm hearts of so many of our people.

6. We have some sharp leaders at the local church level. These men and women desire to see the church advance and impact their community.

7. A number of churches are changing their structure to an accountability governance model.

8. I saw churches and people engaged in the Great Commission. This clearly needs to be the rallying cry for UB churches everywhere, so that we reach the people Christ wants us to reach in these days.

9. I have met with a number of our cluster groups. The cluster system is still a work in progress, but it has made some huge strides forward in the last two years.

Denny Miller, in his role as Cluster Coordinator, has helped keep the connection with our cluster leaders. We have many cluster leaders who are doing a great job with their clusters, and who are being the first point of contact when issues arise with pastors and churches.

I have concluded that while we have some significant issues and room for improvement, we have a bright hope for the future.

I believe our commitment to the Great Commission is improving. But we can do more to reach people for Christ and grow strong disciples in our churches.

Our churches must do a better job of outreach to open the front door, and be more effective in assimilation and discipleship to close the back door. We need to move discipleship away from just a learning experience. Discipleship should be a lived-out relationship with Jesus that impacts everything we do.

I want us to remain committed to our confession of faith and our core values. At the same time, I want us to aggressively move into the flow of God’s Spirit to see the church advance. We began as a movement of the Spirit of God, and that is where we must return.

A previous post mentioned Matt McKeown and the theme song he wrote, on contract, for the city of Palm Coast, Fla. Matt is associate pastor of First UB church in Holly Hill, Fla., and also heads up Sound Mind Studios, a recording studio in Holly Hill.

The online News-Journal of Daytona Beach published a feature article about Matt and the song, titled “Holly Hill Musician Carries Tune for Palm Coast.” Some tidbits from that article:

  • Matt has written energetic rock music p layed during television coverage of NFL games, NASCAR races, and other sporting events.
  • After getting the Palm Coast job last fall, “I didn’t go there and walk around for song inspiration. I just jumped on their website and looked at what they were proud of. That’s what I would have done if I was doing that for a company.”
  • McKeown he did all the singing and played all the instruments for the song. “I wanted it to be a little country, a little folksy, and a little beachy and to have a little Jimmy Buffet in there.”

Dr. Del Doughty (right), longtime professor of English at Huntington University, has been named the interim senior vice president for academic affairs, effective June 1, 2012.

In this role, Doughty will be responsible for leading the faculty and developing new academic programs. Doughty will continue in this interim role through May 31, 2013.

Beginning this fall, the university will launch a national search for a new vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Norris Friesen (right), who has held that position for the past 10 years (and has worked at Huntington University for 26 years), will assume the role of professor of German and director of cross-cultural programs beginning in the 2012-13 school year.

HU President G. Blair Dowden explained in a student meeting that he wanted a change in the position, and will be searching for a person to better focus on strategic thinking and innovation in academics.

Doughty joined the university faculty in 1996. He currently serves as professor of English, chair of the Division of Humane Studies, and the self-study coordinator for reaccreditation. He teaches courses in creative writing and world literature. He earned his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Penn State in 1995.

David Holt has been appointed senior pastor of East Ovid UB church (Coldwater, Mich.) effective February 1, 2012. He and Kim (right), his wife of 28 years, have 3 children, ages 16-23. His ministry background includes the Algansee Lower Light Mission of Petersburg, Mich. (which first licensed him to preach), the Zion Wesleyan Mission in Hazel Park, Mich., the Old Time Religion Group in Michigan (which ordained him in 2006). He has been pastor since 2005 of the Ball Road Tabernacle Church of Romulus, Mich.