Mill Chapel's new generator.

Mill Chapel’s new generator.

Mill Chapel (Reedsville, W. Va.) recently purchased a generator. This is a response to the power outages in late 2012 from Hurricane Sandy.

Senior pastor Marshall Woods (right) explains, “Mill Chapel will be an emergency center for the entire area surrounding the church. In the event of a power outage, people (churched and unchurched) will be able to get warm, sleep in the fellowship hall, and have something to eat.”

Dave Stephens reports that he has esophagus cancer. Dave, an ordained United Brethren minister since 1969, is director of Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Camp Cotubic was started by the former Central Conference in the 1970s.

On November 18, Dave said on Facebook, “We went to the Ohio State University cancer center today to begin the process. Ill have more tests next week to determine the stage etc., then we will probably have 5 weeks of radiation and chemo. It is likely then that surgery will take place to remove that section.

“Our faith remains strong. I have recovered well from the heart surgery”– he had a heart attack in June, followed by quadruple bypass surgery–“so I’m healthy enough for the next step. Thank you all for your friendship and prayers.”

Dave plans to retire on January 1, 2014.

We received word that the mother of Gary Gates (right) passed away Saturday, November 16. Visitation is Tuesday, November 19, and the funeral is on Wednesday, November 20. The funeral will be held in Carlinville, Ill.

Gary is pastor of South Scipio UB church in Harlan, Ind., and the denominational Director of Ministerial Licensing. His address:

Gary Gates
24990 Antwerp Road
Harlan, IN 46743

Juanita Chavez with church planters in the remote community of Hatos del Santo.

Juanita Chavez (second from left) with church planters in the remote community of Hatos del Santo.

Jeff Bleijerveld (right), Director of Global Ministries

With more than 100 churches and numerous church plants, Honduras National Conference is not resting on its laurels but advances on every level.

Superintendent Juanita Chavez reports that they are setting up capital development accounts for each district and appointing leaders to oversee the needs of pastors and local churches. This let the national office focus more time on leadership development and training.

With regards to training leaders, the conference adopted the BILD program developed by the Antioch School of Ministry from Ames, Iowa. This non-formal, competency based program revolves around in-service training in the local church context. This low-cost, four-year program allows students to continue on to graduate and post-graduate studies.

After their upcoming national conference January 15-18, 2014, I will meet with other Central American conference leaders to discuss the development of a missions leadership team. We fully anticipate that our Central American conferences will engage in sending missionaries to serve overseas in the future. This makes formation of a missions leadership team essential.

You can also pray for Honduras as national elections take place November 24. This comes at a critical time, as drug cartels are running rampant over police and federal authorities. Pray that God would have his hand in providing effective leadership to the nation.

The conference uses an old two-reel projector to show the Jesus film.

The conference uses an old two-reel projector to show the Jesus film.

Transporting the Jesus film equipment by canoe.

Transporting the Jesus film equipment by canoe.

Steve Dennie (right), Communications Director

A major evangelistic tool for Sierra Leone Conference is the Jesus film, which tells the life of Christ. The conference owns copies in Mende and Krio, the two languages spoken predominantly in southern Sierra Leone.

Jesus, a two-hour film based on the book of Luke, is considered one of the greatest evangelistic tools of all time. The vision for the film came from Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, which provided most of the financing. It was filmed over a period of several months in the Middle East, sometimes using actual locations (like the Jordan River). Each day, new footage was sent to a team of biblical scholars, who reviewed it for biblical accuracy.

Warner Bros. released the film in the United States in 1979, but it got terrible reviews and lost money. Then, in 1981, Bill Bright created the Jesus Film Project with the vision of translating it into numerous languages and showing it around the world. In that way, the film has proven to be a huge success. New material was added in 2001 to show how Christ’s life fits into history—the creation story, Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Abraham, and prophecies from Isaiah.

Since 1979, over 200 million people have made decisions to follow Christ after watching the film. It has been translated into nearly 1200 languages.

The Jesus film has been a very effective evangelism tool in Sierra Leone. They began showing it in Pujehun, a predominantly Muslim area. They use a portable screen or, if available, the wall of a building. The film requires an old two-reel projector. The conference projector gets a regular workout, but is on its last legs. They’re looking for a replacement.

After showing the film, an evangelist gives a talk and, often, many people will give themselves to Christ. They then organize discipleship training for the new Christians to get them grounded in the faith. In one place, the town chief saw the film and became a Christian. His influence as a figurehead in the community has made a big impact.

Many of these people, says Bishop John Pessima of Sierra Leone Conference, are not literate and have had no formal education. So, they plan to organize classes to teach them how to read the Mende Bible.

Sierra Leone Conference obtained the Mende and Krio versions of the Jesus film many years ago through the Great Commission Movement. The films are showing their age, but continue showing the ageless message of Christ to people in search of a Savior.

A visit to Pujehun in February 2013. L-r: Jeff Bleijerveld, Bishop Phil Whipple, Bishop John Pessima with Sierra Leone leaders and workers in Pujehun.

A visit to Pujehun in February 2013. L-r: Jeff Bleijerveld, Bishop Phil Whipple, Bishop John Pessima with Sierra Leone leaders and workers in Pujehun. (click to enlarge)

Donna Hollopeter with people from the Vai church in Pujehun in February 2013.

Donna Hollopeter with people from the Vai church in Pujehun in February 2013.

Bishop John Pessima (right) of Sierra Leone Conference is currently in the United States, where he is spending a couple months visiting United Brethren churches. During a stop at the National Office in Huntington, Ind., he talked about the conference’s work among the Vai people.

The Vai, a predominantly Muslim group, live on the border with Liberia in Pujehun, one of the 12 districts (like states) of Sierra Leone. It is sparsely populated, with about 300,000 people living mostly in villages of less than 2000 people. We now have a church and school in Pujehun.

They were introduced to Pujehun by a man who grew up there as a Muslim. He moved to Freetown as a young man, became a Christian, and joined the Wellington United Brethren church. John Pessima personally baptized him.

sierraleoneThe man later moved back to Pujehun, and died in April 2013. But before passing, he instructed that two plots of land he owned be given, free of charge, to the United Brethren church.

“We are now trying to document ownership,” says Bishop Pessima.

The church currently meets in that man’s home, and the school uses a small classroom. “For now, Rev. Peter Kainwo, the conference superintendent of evangelism, is leading the church and school,” says Bishop Pessima.

A few young men, UBs from Bo and Freetown, moved to Pujehun because of their jobs with non-government organizations. Bishop Pessima describes them as “strong UB youths who are assisting greatly.”

Gertha G. (Stephens) Evans, 86 of Huntington, Ind., passed away November 13. She was the mother of Rev. Ron Evans, pastor of the UB church in Kunkle, Ohio.

Gertha’s late husband, Don, was known to several generations of Huntington University students for his work with the university maintenance department. He passed away in 1994.

Both the visitation and funeral will be held Saturday, November 16.

Visitation: 10:30 – 12:30 pm.
Funeral: 12:30 pm.
Location: Myers Funeral Home, 2901 Guilford Street, Huntington, ind.

Sympathies can be sent to Ron Evans at:

Ronald L. Evans
PO Box 30, 402 Angola St
Kunkle, OH 43531-0030

Members of one of the United Brethren churches in Liberia. Note the sign at the top of the church building.

Members of one of the United Brethren churches in Liberia. Note the sign at the top of the church building.

In early 2013, someone from Liberia called the United Brethren office in Huntington, Ind. In a thick West African accent, the person claimed to be part of the United Brethren in Christ church in Liberia, and said they wanted to be connected to us.

We’ve never had mission work in Liberia. However, this group was using our exact name—Church of the United Brethren in Christ. It’s possible they are a remnant of the “other” United Brethren group from which our denomination split back in 1889.

Anyway, Global Ministries passed along the information to Bishop John Pessima (right) of Sierra Leone Conference. Sierra Leone and Liberia are neighboring countries. Bishop Pessima made contact, and some relationships are forming.

“We’ve been to Liberia three times to meet with that group,” says Bishop Pessima.

He says they have nine churches—“Very good, large churches”—and that he has visited four of them.

“They are very receptive and are willing to join a communion of United Brethren,” he says. “We are moving gradually, because there are many things we need to look into. We’ve looked at their governing documents, and have presented out doctrines and core values.”

He plans to make another visit in December to meet with the man supervising those churches. “We’re planning to spend 4-5 days with them to talk about the logo and the Confession of Faith.” He hopes to take the UB national presidents of their organizations for men, women, and youth to talk to their Liberian counterparts.

He says they want to start by exchanging delegates to various events.

They’ll invite the Liberian women to send delegates in April 2014 to the Sierra Leone national women’s convention. Likewise with the national UB youth camp in 2014, which will probably be held in Mattru.

In this way, the two groups of churches—over 70 UB churches in Sierra Leone, and the 9 UB churches in Liberia—will get better acquainted. And we’ll see where things go from there.

L-r: Jeffrey Propps, Daryl Kissinger, Earl Wintermoyer, Mark Burkett, Gener Lacase, Becky Hann, and Michael Zeger.

The Chambersburg, Pa., class. L-r: Jeffrey Propps, Daryl Kissinger, Earl Wintermoyer, Mark Burkett, Gener Lascase, Becky Hann, and Michael Zeger.

The Bryan, Ohio, class.

The Bryan, Ohio, class. Top row, l-r: Bob Bruce (instructor), Travis Ambrose, Jason Clark, Ramsey Cross, Stephanie Farman, Amanda Graham. Bottom row, l-r: Scott Graham, Scott Hardy, Courtney Kennedy, Zach Kennedy, Mike Rowley, Wesley Skiles.

On November 11-12, a total of 18 persons attended the UB History Course in two different locations: Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Seven persons attended the course hosted by King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa. Dr. Daryl Elliott, senior pastor of Fountain UB church (Keyser, W. Va.) was the instructor.

The attendees were:

  • Jeffrey Propps, a local church licentiate from Franklintown UB church (Franklintown, Pa.).
  • Daryl Kissinger, youth director at Salem UB church (Chambersburg, Pa.).
  • Earl Wintermoyer, from Hagerstown, Md.
  • Mark Burkett, from Pleasant Hill UB church (Greencastle, Pa.).
  • Gener Lascase, from Chambersburg, Pa.
  • Becky Hann, director of Children’s Ministries at King Street church.
  • Michael Zeger, from Pleasant Hill UB church (Greencastle, Pa.).

Eleven persons attended the course hosted by New Hope Community Church in Bryan, Ohio. The course was taught by Robert Bruce, pastor of Spiritual Care at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).

The attendees were:

  • Stephanie Farman, children’s coordinator at Sunfield UB church (Sunfield, Mich.).
  • Zachary and Courtney Kennedy. Zach is associate pastor of Olive Branch UB church (Lakeville, Ind.).
  • Scott Hardy, from Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.).
  • Mike Rowley, from College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind).
  • Wesley Skiles, associate pastor of youth at Heart O’ the Lakes UB church (Brooklyn, Mich.).
  • Travis Ambrose, Family Life Pastor at Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.).
  • Scott and Amanda Graham. Scott is senior pastor of Good Shepherd UB church (Greenfield, Ohio).
  • Ramsey Cross, from Jackson, Mich.
  • Jason Clarke, from New Hope Community Church (Bryan, Ohio).

L-r: Sharon Frank, Bishop John Pessima, and Judy Hoath.

L-r: Sharon Frank, Bishop John Pessima, and Judy Hoath.

John Pessima, bishop of Sierra Leone Conference, is currently in the US visiting a number of United Brethren churches. A few days ago he was at the UB church in Hillsdale, Mich., where he encountered two former missionaries, both of them nurses at Mattru Hospital. Sharon Frank served in Sierra Leone 1965-1983. Judy Hoath served several terms before completing her service in 1986.