We are on the verge of having 500 registrations for this summer’s US National Conference. More registrations come in every day.

Hotel rooms in the two conference hotels are filling fast. There are limited openings at both the Hilton and the Courtyard Marriott, so make your reservations quickly!

  • The Hilton is attached to the Grand Wayne Center, our meeting place. The cost is $95 per night, plus parking. The remaining rooms available there are mostly for people who are only staying there Wednesday and Thursday nights (not Friday night).
  • The Courtyard Marriot is directly across the street from the Grand Wayne Center. The conference cost is $104 per night, with complimentary parking.

There are many other hotels within a short drive. Some hotel deals can be found at We do not have room blocks at any of the other hotels, so you will want to make your reservations soon.

For complete information and to register, go to:

The new dormitory at Malvern Camp, though unfinished, was used during Jamaica National Conference this spring.

The new dormitory at Malvern Camp, though unfinished, was used during Jamaica National Conference this spring.

Dwight and Patti Kuntz will return to Jamaica on July 2 and would like to take a small work team with them specifically to do some finishing work on the first floor of the dormitory building at Malvern. They need a team of 5-6 people for the week of July 2 – 9. The work will include tiling floors, installing fixtures in bathrooms, and other work.

Though the building is not yet completed, it was used to house pastors at the annual conference in March of this year. The photo above shows the project as it stands now.

Dr. Martin Salia performing hernia surgery on a young boy.

Dr. Martin Salia performing hernia surgery on a young boy.

In the surgery room.

In the surgery room.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

While at Mattru Hospital during my visit to Sierra Leone in February 2013, I was given permission to observe a surgery. They gave me a surgical gown to wear, and set up a chair in case I needed to sit down.

The surgeon was Dr. Martin Salia, a Sierra Leonean doctor who comes from a United Brethren background. He works at a hospital in Freetown, the capital city, but came to Mattru for strategic planning meetings about the future of Mattru Hospital.

He was assisted by Mr. French, another Sierra Leonean. Mr. French is just a handyman, not a medical doctor, but seems to be quite skilled at surgery. Before the civil war, he assisted Dr. Ron Baker in numerous surgeries, and he continued his involvement in surgeries during and after the civil war.

They told me they would be doing hernia surgeries. I learned that hernia surgery is the most frequent surgery performed at Mattru. I asked about it, and was told that there seems to be a genetic weakness for hernias among the Mende people.

I expected the patient to be an adult, but it turned out to be a little boy, just a year old, who was screaming his head off. He had a hernia the size of a softball. The little guy was from a village, and was terrified; he’d probably never been out of his mother’s sight. Now he was being brought into this operating room with bright lights and strange people wearing masks—all new to him.

Then, when they laid him on the table, he saw me, a white guy with blue eyes. He may have never seen a white person before. That did it. Quickly, the anesthesiologist said, “Let’s put him under ASAP.” They did.

The surgery was quite amazing thing to watch. All of the staff were Sierra Leoneans. Christian worship music played in the background. Before any incision was made, everybody stopped what they were doing and gathered around while Dr. Salia led them in prayer.

Also in the room were five student nurses. They assisted to a small degree, but mainly just watched. I was told that student nurses regularly attend surgeries. They brought a chair or me, in case I became lightheaded and needed to sit down, but student nurses ended up using it.

The surgery went well. They said the boy would be running around the village within a couple of days.

Jeff Bleijerveld (left) and Bishop Phil Whipple (second from left) with Sierra Leone leaders and workers.

Jeff Bleijerveld (left) and Bishop Phil Whipple (second from left) with Sierra Leone leaders and workers.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

During the coming weeks, Sierra Leone National Conference will conduct a month of outreach into the Pujehun Region and Liberia. This is primarily a Sunni Muslim area. The outreach will be led by Rev. Peter Kainwo, the conference director of Evangelism and Church Planting.

The outreach will include 16 days of Jesus Film presentations, plus community visitation among six communities of the Vai People.

In preparation, Sierra Leone Conference will conduct two days of training with 19 participants in soul winning, discipleship, and household evangelism. There will also be two days of follow-up and fact-finding for future outreach in Liberia.

Those participating are United Brethren members who have relocated their families to this border region in order to participate in planting new churches. Bishop Phil Whipple, Donna Hollopeter, and I had the opportunity to spend time with this amazing group of pioneer evangelists this past February.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

In February, I visited Sierra Leone to participate in strategic planning regarding Mattru Hospital. Also participating in those meetings was Dr. Martin Salia (right), a very skilled surgeon who works at a hospital in Freetown.

Martin comes from a United Brethren background. In the 1990s, Sierra Leone Conference sent Martin to Burkina Faso to participate in extensive training designed for producing medical missionaries. Every student was set up with a mentor. Martin was mentored by a missionary doctor with years of experience. The idea was not just developing Martin into a good surgeon, but into a follower of Christ.

The Sierra Leone Conference helped support Martin with this training, with the understanding that he would return to work at Mattru Hospital. But then the civil war occurred, and the hospital fell into chaos and disrepair. While decisions were being processed about whether or not to take him on at Mattru Hospital, Martin landed a job at the Kissie Hospital in Freetown.

Working at the same hospital is Dr. Dennis Marke, who previously worked at Mattru Hospital. Both Dr. Marke and Dr. Salia made tremendous contributions to the strategic planning, since they understand what makes an effective missions hospital.

mtzion-worshipfacilityMt. Zion UB Church (Wayne, Ohio) will dedicate a new worship facility (right) at 3pm on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

The day will begin with a worship service at 9:30 am with Pastor Howard Munn giving the message. Rev. Munn served Mt Zion for 26 years. There will be a lunch afterwards in the Family Life Center.

At 3pm, Lee Hiney, former pastor of Mt. Zion, will give the dedicatory address. Pastor Hiney pastored Mt. Zion for 20 years. A dessert reception will follow the dedication.

Pastor Mark E. Ralph is the current senior pastor of Mt. Zion.

Derek Thrush (right) has been named senior pastor of Devonshire Church in Harrisburg, Pa. Derek has served on staff at Devonshire since 1997, and was ordained in 2002.

Derek is a graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. , and also holds a Master of Divinity from Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, Pa. He and his wife, Kristen, were married in 1997 and have seven children.

Rev. Howard Cherry (right) has undergone surgery today (April 9)–his third surgery in a short span of days. The family is trusting this is the final step toward moving him on toward rehab and regaining of strength. Your prayers are appreciated.

Howard and Sue Cherry have served in the United Brethren ministry since 1966. From 1979-1992, he was a professor in the Graduate School of Christian Ministry. For the past several years, he has served as minister of Pastoral Care at College Park UB church in Huntington, Ind.

Cards can be sent to:

Howard Cherry
1 Millside Road
Huntington, IN 46750

S. Douglas Birdsall assumed the presidency of the American Bible Society in March 2013. Dr. Birdsall grew up as a United Brethren preacher’s kid, the son of Dr. S. Roger and Mary Lou Birdsall. He has also been a licensed United Brethren minister.

The American Bible Society, founded in 1816, publishes, distributes, and translates the Bible and provides study aids and other tools to help people engage with the Bible. It publishes the Good News Bible and the more recent Contemporary English Version. The ABS had $67 million in revenue in 2010, with total assets of over $400 million (including a headquarters building in downtown Manhattan).

You can read more about Doug on Wikipedia.

Todd Fetters opened the meeting with a devotional.

Todd Fetters opened the meeting with a devotional.

Jeff Bleijerveld giving an update on Global Ministries.

Jeff Bleijerveld giving an update on Global Ministries.

Bishop Phil Whipple (right) with his sons Josh (left) and Mike, both of whom are on staff at Colwood UB church (Caro, Mich.).

Bishop Phil Whipple (right) with his sons Josh (left) and Mike, both of whom are on staff at Colwood UB church (Caro, Mich.).

About 50 people attended a regional meeting at East Washington UB church in Ashley, Mich., on Monday, April 8. This was the last of four meetings held to review proposals which will be presented to the US National Conference this summer. Attendees came from various UB churches in Michigan, along with four persons from the national office.

The meeting began at 9:30 and ended after a lunch provided by the East Washington church. It included:

  • An opening devotional from Todd Fetters, Director of National Ministries.
  • An update on ministerial education and licensing issues from Gary Gates, Director of Ministerial Licenses.
  • An update on the work of Global Ministries from Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries.
  • A review by Bishop Phil Whipple of the proposals for revising the Discipline (our “manual of operations,” so to speak, which can only be amended by the National Conference). Everyone had a copy of the proposals. The Bishop walked through them and invited discussion.