Kent and Carol Maxwell (right) organized the luncheon. On the left are John and Barbara Goodwin, who most recently served churches in western Ohio.

Kent and Carol Maxwell (right) organized the luncheon. On the left are John and Barbara Goodwin, who most recently served churches in western Ohio (click to enlarge).

L-r: Sue and Howard Cherry, Ron and EJ Ramsey, Barbara and John Goodwin.

L-r: Sue and Howard Cherry, Ron and EJ Ramsey, Barbara and John Goodwin.

Bishop Phil Whipple (left) speaking to the retirees. On the right are Margaret and Milan Maybee and Wayne Goldsmith.

Bishop Phil Whipple (left) speaking to the retirees. On the right are Margaret and Milan Maybee and Wayne Goldsmith.

A luncheon for retired United Brethren ministers and their spouses was held Monday, January 21, at the Sunrise Cafe in Fort Wayne, Ind. Retired ministers within a reasonable driving distance of Fort Wayne were invited., and 12 persons came, including Bishop Phil Whipple. The luncheon was organized by Dr. Kent and Carol Maxwell.

Bishop Whipple (right) with Dan and Deborah VanArsdalen.

Bishop Whipple (right) with Dan and Deborah VanArsdalen.

Bishop Phil Whipple (right) with Thom and Michelle Redmond.

Bishop Phil Whipple (right) with Thom and Michelle Redmond.

Bishop Phil Whipple conducted two ordinations recently.

  • On December 9, Thom Redmond, associate pastor of Crestview UB church (Lafayette, Ind.), was ordained at Crestview. He has served at Crestview since September 2011. Thom holds a History degree from the University of Miami (1985), a Masters in Journalism from Regent University (1992), and a Master of Divinity from Winebrenner Theological Seminary (2004).
  • On January 20, Dan VanArsdalen was ordained at Alvordton UB church (Alvordton, Ohio). He has been senior pastor at Alvordton since November 2010.

Huntington University student Chloe-Ann Shaw practices her footwork in a stage combat class Thursday morning. (Photo By Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel)

Huntington University student Chloe-Ann Shaw practices her footwork in a stage combat class Thursday morning. (Photo By Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel)

Ellie Bogue of The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Reprinted by permission.

Swordplay was the lesson of the day Thursday, January 17, at Huntington University.

Students are on their J-term semester, which lasts through January. Many of the classes count toward electives in their majors; they can pick from a variety of classes that aren’t available the rest of the year. For one group of students this meant stage combat class, where they learn how to create combat scenes. Their teacher for the session is John Lennox, who has a doctorate in theater arts.

Lennox said many of the students are theater arts majors, but a few took it because they thought it sounded interesting. Lennox, who lives in Jackson, Mich., travels the world, teaching the art of onstage combat.

He specializes in Western martial arts and has had weapons training in long sword, short sword, broadsword, hand-and-a-half sword, two-handed sword, foils, katanas, scimitars, and various other edged weapons. He also is trained with various types of handguns and automatic rifles, among other weapons.

On Thursday, Lennox was teaching how to use the side sword. Half the battle in swordplay appeared to be learning the footwork. Starting from a ballet first position – think heels together, toes out – one has to slide their lead foot forward, or sideways, depending on which direction you are going.

The stances involve a lot of lunges; it looks somewhat like yoga postures. In fact, Lennox had a yoga teacher in one of his former classes who described it as “just like yoga, with dangerous props.”

For a good hour the students were run through the footwork positions, each of which had a name.

“Forward lunge, pass back, reverse lunge, recover forward, recover back, volt, pass forward, t-stop,” Lennox called to the circle of students.

There was a lot of laughter and a few exclamations from the group.

“It burns!” said one young woman as they went into what looked like a deep lunge.

Chloe-Ann Shaw, a theater arts major, had a look of fierce concentration on her face as she moved back and forth across the stage. She admitted she took the class because it sounded like fun, but it has turned out to be some work, as well.

Melanie Lubs, one of two assistants helping out with the class, is a recent IPFW graduate in the Theater Art program. She took Lennox’s workshop a year ago and since then has gotten a basic certification in stage combat. She now teaches a semester-long stage combat class at IPFW.

Lennox said with the increase in movies that use these skills, like “Lord of the Rings,” there has been an increased interest in students wanting to learn the art.

Bishop Phil Whipple spoke briefly to the class as it began on Monday morning, January 21.

Bishop Phil Whipple spoke briefly to the class as it began on Monday morning, January 21 (click to enlarge).

Bishop Whipple speaking to the class.

Bishop Whipple speaking to the class.

Bob Bruce is a frequent teacher of the UB history courses, which are held regionally.

Bob Bruce is a frequent teacher of the UB history courses, which are held regionally.

A course on United Brethren Church History is underway at New Hope Community Church in Bryan, Ohio. The course is a requirement for ministerial licensing in the UB church, but is open to anyone who wants to attend. Bob Bruce, associate pastor of Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.), is teaching the class, which has 12 students.

The class began on Monday, January 21, and will conclude today (Tuesday). Bishop Phil Whipple was on hand Monday morning as the class began, and spoke briefly to the students.

The UB Church in Canada is sending two teams to Haiti during the next few weeks.

January 25 – February 4. A construction team will work on building a new church in Limbe. Joan Sider (right), from the Toronto UB church (and a frequent visitor to Haiti) writes, “This is in northern Haiti, and a brand new place to visit for all of us. We will be joined by a group from our King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa. This is a very exciting joint venture.”

February 5-12. A medical team will arrive, to be joined by three ladies from Mission of Hope and Dr. Robinson Germain, a Haitian doctor. They will go to Les Cayes, in the south, to hold several medical clinics.

Joan Sider writes, “Many of you have perhaps heard that there have been travel warnings about Haiti–more than usual, actually. We ask that you pray for our safety and that we will all be wise about our actions. We thank God for Pastor Oliam Richard’s vigilance in helping us be safe.”

Greg Helman, pastor of Blue Rock UB church (Waynesboro, Pa.), sent this note:

“Retired minister Rev. Don Bender had a mild heart attack in South Carolina while visiting with family on Monday, January 14. He had quadruple bypass surgery yesterday, January 17. He went through the surgery well, but will have a significant recovery period. Please pray for him and his wife, Shirley.”

New Dundee UB church

New Dundee UB church

The New Dundee UB church (New Dundee, Ontario) closed after 143 years. A final service was held on December 30, 2012.

Brian Magnus, bishop of the United Brethren Church in Canada, explained that many of the church’s younger families had moved to churches with more a more contemporary style, leaving a mostly older constituency. They tried hard to keep the church running, but their numbers dwindled to the point where they couldn’t continue.

Many New Dundee members have now switched to the nearby Roseville UB church in Ayr, Ont.

The New Dundee church was built in 1969. Over the years, it had a strong missions emphasis, sending out fulltime missionaries and giving strong support to United Brethren missions. In 1980, the church ranked first among all UB churches worldwide in per-capita giving to UB missions.

A special celebratory service is planned for April 2013. Past and current members, and anyone else interesting, are welcome to attend.

Scooge with Tiny Tim's family

Scrooge with Tiny Tim’s family (click to enlarge)

From Scrooge

From Scrooge

Carolyn Schermbeck, Director of Communications and Outreach, Mainstreet Church (Walbridge, Ohio)

Dinner theaters are not new to Mainstreet Church. They have become a tradition, with the first production taking place in 1997. In the early years, these Broadway-style musicals were presented at our 705 Campus. Guests enjoyed warm hospitality and an inviting atmosphere from the moment they arrived. A catered dinner was served in the gymnasium and the production took place in the sanctuary. Approximately 225 people attended a single performance with typically three shows offered.

As you may expect, 15 years later, a few things have changed. Today, God has blessed us with a larger facility and the ability to provide this entertaining Christmas outreach for up to 360 people at a time. In true dinner theatre fashion, the dinner and show now all take place in our auditorium.

This year we were privileged to host well over 1600 people in one weekend. Over time we’ve experienced changes in cast members, directors, leaders, stage size, the pre-show experience in the lobby, number of shows, ticket prices, and more. Each year we find ourselves called to stretch a little outside the same old margins. Each time we do, God blesses the efforts beyond our imagination. This year was no different.

Tickets for the 2012 production, “Scrooge – The Carol With An Attitude,” went on sale in mid-October as anticipated, with a bit of a twist. The first week tickets were available, you could only purchase a seat for someone else. More specifically, you could only purchase for someone you did not know. Tickets would be given to individuals from local partner organizations. The invitation had already been made to come and enjoy an evening of entertainment, interwoven with the message of the Gospel. Our goal was simply to sell 100 tickets.

The idea was well received, and through the generous spirit of others, that goal was easily exceeded. There was great anticipation in the air from this moment forward. This simple change served as a powerful reminder of why we put so much time, effort, and resources into this ministry – to share the hope of Christmas with those outside our walls. This is one thing that has never changed!

During the month of November, a great deal of prayer took place for the many aspects of the dinner theatre, including those who held the first 100 tickets. We were sensitive to the fact that for a number of these guests, Christmas may not have been something they were looking forward to this year. Most were in the midst of an overwhelmingly difficult part of their life journey. Many were enduring hardships like broken relationships, homelessness, or battles to overcome addictions. Some were stretched by financial burdens, and others were not strangers to wondering where the next meal would come from. Our prayer for them was that through the dinner theatre, they would experience the love of Christ and the hope he provides for each one of us, no matter where they found themselves at that moment.

God is good! Lives were impacted and seeds were planted with people who may have never crossed our path otherwise. Individuals came as curious guests, wondering what this evening at church would be like. Through the grace of God, a few of them departed that night as new friends. We fully realize that we may never have an opportunity to interact with many of their life journeys in the future. Yet we celebrate the moment God gave us to minister to them. Here are a few of the written notes that followed:

“Thank you seems insufficient to express how we feel about all you and your congregation have done for us. ‘Scrooge’ was amazing and many of the ladies have never experienced anything like it. God bless all of you for taking us under your wings.”

“Please tell all of the people involved that their efforts, their kindness, and their performance changed the lives of these people.”

“I shed a tear at the beginning of the play. I was wondering what I did to deserve such a wonderful blessing. When the pastor appeared in the middle of the room 20 minutes before the play was over, he asked us to open our hearts and accept the gift of God. At that very moment I knew that I was blessed to have a wonderful friend in my life…someone who knows me for who I truly am unconditionally. No drugs in my body, I didn’t have to give anything up. Just me. So I am grateful for this wonderful holiday memory. I will cherish it for a lifetime.”

“Thank you. That was really nice of you, and it felt nice to have someone do something nice for me. It makes recovery worth it.”

“Thank you for giving me a chance to live again and be happy, and also for the wonderful Christmas gift.”

“It made me see my life in a whole different way. I want Him in my life. I feel like I can be a different person.”

“I have come to terms that I am powerless over my addiction, and I’m ready to have a relationship with Jesus.”

“I finally see God can lead me to a happy and new beginning drug-free.”

“The story had a great message and allowed me to take a look at my life and how I’m living today. There’s a better life with God in my life.”

This outreach effort is just one of so many things to celebrate as a result of this year’s dinner theatre. We’ve seen new families, who attended “Scrooge” begin to join us on Sunday. The comments, prayer requests, and next steps shared with us after each performance are by themselves a huge praise.

We experienced an overwhelming turnout of over 300 amazing volunteers who went above and beyond expectations to make it all come together. Some of these volunteers were brand new and some were long time, faithful volunteers. In them we witnessed growth, the forming of new relationships, and next steps being taken as they served together for months. We are truly blessed to see Him touch and transform lives.

Students in the J-Term class on stage combat.

Students in the J-Term class on stage combat.

Hip hop, combat fighting, hobbits, and X-Files. It’s all in a day’s work for Huntington University students.

During January, Huntington students have the unique opportunity to take one concentrated class for credit. Some students spend “J-Term” on campus, while other travel abroad or are placed in internships. J-term runs this year from January 7-23.

In “The X-Files: Quest for Truth,” Dr. Lance Clark (right) is challenging his students to discover how the post-modern world yearns for the spiritual while exploring the supernatural aspects of “one of the greatest television series in the history of TV,” he said.

“Most, if not all, of the students in the class have never seen an episode of ‘The X-Files.’ They are discovering it for the first time and soon become huge fans,” he added. “We have great class discussions on metaphysics, transcendence, and the pursuit of truth in the Christian faith.”

In “Contemporary American Hip Hop and Biblical Prophecy,” Professors Dr. Del Doughty and Heath Pearson are examining the history of hip hop from its roots in the black church to its movement to mainstream.

In “The Heroic & the Ordinary,” students drill down and explore heroes and the meaning of “ordinary” via a wild range of films and other materials, such as novels and poetry, with Professor Mike Hertenstein.

In Drs. Tanner Babb and Paul Michelson’s class, students are taking a trip to Middle-earth and back again with a study of “The Hobbit” and its place in J. R. R. Tolkien’s creation of “The Lord of the Rings.”

In the theater, students are learning what it feels like to be a part of the movies by learning basic stage combat. Students work with John Lennox, who has taught stage combat and choreographing at workshops around the world. He has more than 20 years of experience in the craft.

The Global Ministries Staff Summit will be held at the Phowaldol Resort in Chiang Rei, Thailand.

The Global Ministries Staff Summit will be held at the Phowaldol Resort in Chiang Rei, Thailand.

A Global Ministries Staff Summit will be held January 20-23, 2013, in northern Thailand. Nothing like this has been done before. About 30 persons from eight countries will participate, including fulltime, sojourn, and non-traditional staff. They will converge on the city of Chiang Rai, near the border with Myanmar, and spend four days together at the Phowaldol Resort on the outskirts of the city.

Global Ministries would appreciate your prayer support as all of these persons come together for this one-time event. All participants are expected to arrive in Thailand by Friday, January 18.

The keynote speaker will be Brian Magnus (right), bishop of the United Brethren Church in Canada and chairman of the International Executive Committee. His wife, Lynette, will travel with him.

Representing US Global Ministries will be Jeff Bleijerveld (director), and associate directors Donna Hollopeter and Frank Y. Also coming from the US will be Jessica Hollopeter (a Sojourn staffmember serving with One Mission Society in Indiana); Jeff and April Dice, non-traditional staff members serving part of each year in Nicaragua.; and Bryan and Emily Gerlach, who will soon spearhead a new urban-focused ministry in Thailand. Galen and Maritta Fiedler, non-traditional staff serving in Germany, will also come.

Also participating will be our various staff members in Macau, China, and India, plus Rev. H. M. Lee from Thailand and leaders from Hong Kong Conference.

Frank Y left Jan. 11 so he could meet ahead of time with some people in Hong Kong. Jeff Bleijerveld left Jan 14, and will also spend a few days beforehand in Hong Kong. Donna and Jessica Hollopeter, along with Brian and Lynette Magnus, leave on Thursday, Jan. 17.

Why Thailand?

“Thailand is a new ministry focus for us, and it’s very affordable,” explained Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries. “At least half of our staff are located in the region already, and we also wanted some of our Hong Kong leadership to participate, since we have partnerships with them in Macau and Thailand.”

The money comes from a sizable bequest received six years ago. Global Ministries initially envisioned sponsoring a “homecoming” for all Global Ministries staff. However, because of the poor economy, they postponed the idea indefinitely. This will be a one-time event, not something done regularly.

For some of these persons, it will be the first time they have met. They will spend the days vision-casting, encouraging each other, and sharing their stories. There will be workshops and recreational outings. The trip will include a visit on Sunday to our UB churches in the mountains of north Thailand; the group will participate in services there and have lunch with the community.