Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines in early November. We have about 20 United Brethren churches in the Philippines.

As always happens in the aftermath of major disasters, United Brethren people wanted to help. Our practice, through Global Ministries, is to partner with organizations which specialize in disaster relief. We partnered with Samaritan’s Purse following the 2011 earthquake in Haiti, and after the 2012 tsunami in Japan. UB churches and people were invited to channel money through Global Ministries, all of which was sent on to Samaritan’s Purse (Global Ministries doesn’t take a cut). That amounted to roughly $70,000 for Haiti and $11,000 for Japan.

The same process was used with the Philippines, as we once again partnered with Samaritan’s Purse. As of the end of December 2013, Global Ministries had received $7,473 for Typhoon Haiyan relief.

Franklin Graham, President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, described Haiyan as “one of the strongest storms in history. Over 6,000 people died and another 4 million people were displaced. He wrote, “The destruction was the worst from  a storm I have ever seen. Entire towns have been reduced to piles of sticks. It’s hard to imagine how anyone survived.”

Even before the typhoon moved away from the Philippines, Samaritan’s Purse dispatched a team to the country. The next week, they airlifted 100 tons of emergency supplies, including a field hospital, aboard a 747. Another chartered 747 soon followed, this one carrying 8 million square feet of heavy-duty plastic–enough to build emergency housing for up to 10,000 families. And much more help followed. A special airlift of over 60,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, many of them packed by survivors of Hurricane Sandy, was sent to the Philippines.

Dave (left) and Scott Stephens.

Dave (left) and Scott Stephens.

Dave Stephens served 25.5 years as director of Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Dave, an ordained United Brethren minister and former UB pastor, stepped down in January 2014. Taking his place is son Scott Stephens, who has served the camp many years as Program Director.

This United Brethren camp began in the 1970s when several conferences merged in the new Central Conference and decided to build a brand new camp for their constituents in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. A contest was held to name the camp. “Cotubic” uses the first letter of each word in “Church of the United Brethren in Christ.”

Camp Cotubic, along with the other United Brethren camps (and with our blessing), went independent in 2005 when the conferences were disbanded.

Seven Huntington University students set a new Guinness World Record for consecutive games of Four Square. They played for 31 consecutive hours, beating the five-year-old record of 29 hours set by a team of Argentinian students.

The seven young men from Baker Hall played nearly 10,000 rounds of Four Square on January 24-25, using the Baker/Roush lounge. Witnesses–two persons for each four-hour shift–observed every minute of playtime (with periodic 10-minute breaks). Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington University, and other HU administrators served as witnesses.

All 31 hours were filmed. The footage and witness statements will be sent to Guiness, which will need to verify the record.

Four Square is quite the rage in Baker Hall. Residents of the second floor try to play on their duct-taped course every night before supper.

fetters_toddTodd Fetters (right), Director of National Ministries

As a pastor, I regularly informed my congregations of my prayer concerns by using a variety of lists. Eventually, I found a resource by Jim Nicodem, in his book, “Prayer Coach,” that became my favorite. His list accurately reflected the true desire of my heart as a spiritual leader.

These seven petitions work nicely as a weekly prayer guide. I encourage you to use it as you pray for your pastor.

Day 1: That our pastors would be honored, affirmed, encouraged, and respected.
Discouragement is a reality for many pastors and their spouses. The reasons are as varied as the normal stuff of everyday life. Fatigue. Lack of success. Unrealistic expectations. Sin. Unrealized vision. Loss. Financial pressures. Spiritual doubt. Loneliness. Clearly, pastors and their spouses do a good work, but there is always the danger of them growing weary in doing good.

Day 2: That our pastors would be protected from focused attacks of Satan, stay far from sin, and walk in obedience to God’s Word.
Satan is a real threat. Pastors are well aware of their brokenness and how vulnerable they are to satanic temptation. The good ones battle hard to resist temptation, because they know the consequences can extend beyond themselves to those they lead.

Day 3: That God would give our pastors wisdom, patience, perseverance, and grace in facing people-problems, and that those they lead would be loyal, understanding, and supportive.
Relationship is everything. We want our congregations and pastors to truly care for one another, speak well of one another, and have mutual affection one for the other.

Day 4: That our pastors’ marriages and parenting would be God-pleasing and wise.
Congregations struggle when a pastor’s marriage suffers. Divorce can deflate and divide a congregation. Rebellious children can cause frustration and doubt in a pastor’s leadership. We want our clergy couples to love and enjoy each other. We want our pastors’ families to be havens of honor and hope.

Day 5: That our pastors, in preparation for teaching God’s Word, would listen to God’s voice, have their time for study protected, be kept from theological error, personally apply the truth, and be filled with God’s Spirit.
Modeling the Way is as important as preaching the Word. Good pastors regularly connect with God through the Word they study, preach, and apply to themselves. In the process, they desperately pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.

Day 6: That our pastors would consistently practice important disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines are critical for maintaining a connection with the Holy Spirit. Pastors make time to physically, emotionally, and mentally engage the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, study, confession, solitude, fasting, etc.

Day 7: That our pastors would be zealous for the church and compelling in promoting its mission.
The Kingdom is the pastor’s God-given big picture. They have an inner drive to see the agenda, priorities, and values of God’s Kingdom realized in their own lives, their churches, their communities, and throughout the world. For them, it’s not just about growing a big church. It’s about participating with God as He grows His Kingdom.

These seven prayer requests compose a holistic picture of your pastor’s heart. It reveals the heart attitude through which God seems to work. So, now that you’ve gained a glimpse inside the mind of the pastor, offer to God an informed prayer on your pastor’s behalf, right now. Then, start watching for God to effectively grow His Kingdom.

Dr. Ron Baker (right)

A short-term team spent January 22 – February 9 in Sierra Leone, doing medical and construction work. Upon returning, Dr. Ron Baker sent this report.

I am convinced that what made this such an excellent trip is that we had so much prayer coverage. This morning in church, I mentioned to several there that this was not just a very successful trip, but even more importantly it was significant and hopefully will help future teams.

Our team was blessed to have Kadie Allie, a friend who lives in Naperville, Ind., help co-lead with me. In addition, we had Dr. Abu Minnah on our team, a surgeon practicing in South Africa who was on leave in Sierra Leone. He willingly gave of his time to be with us and did all the surgery. So, this was actually an international team, which was a real blessing.

It was great to have on the team Dr. Jerry Sell, family physician from Rockford, Ohio; Mike Smith, anesthetist and pastor from Van Wert, Ohio; and Michelle Berg, nurse from Traverse City, Mich. (who had been a missionary nurse with us back in the late 1980s). Each one added areas of expertise and giftedness that the Lord used.

I felt so honored and grateful to be a part of this team that I believe the Lord brought together. I also want to mention how thankful the whole team was for the invaluable behind-the-scenes help and planning given by Donna Hollopeter of Global Ministries!

Almost 30 surgeries were done. In addition, we a lot of patients. We also had the opportunity to make some excellent contacts which I pray will help the hospital in the future, did a radio interview, and were able to have quite a few people over in the evenings to share several meals of rice together and enjoy their fellowship.

The first Sunday, our team was able to hold a service in the Moyamba prison. That afternoon on the way to Mattru, we were able to visit my brother Norman’s grave site where I once again shared with the many villagers who accompanied us the story of how God used his tragic death to shape my life.

The following weekend we were on our way back in to Freetown, where I was interviewed by a local Freetown newspaper. Last Sunday, our team was able to worship at the Lumley UB church before we headed out to the Lungi Airport and on home.

fetters_toddTodd Fetters (right), Director of National Ministries

At the national office, we pray regularly for our pastors. We contact pastors ahead of time, letting them know the day when we will pray for them. Because we believe that informed intercession is effective intercession, we ask them to share with us their specific prayer concerns.

In two postings, I will give suggestions to help you pray regularly for your pastor. Today’s post is designed to help you get inside the mind of a pastor. Tomorrow, I will list seven suggestions for getting to the heart of a pastor.

I feel very comfortable taking you inside the mind of a pastor. I’ve been around pastors my entire life. I grew up in a pastor’s home. My two brothers have been pastors. I spent 25 years in pastoral ministry. I’ve helped churches find new pastors. I’ve led clusters for pastors. And now, as National Ministries director, I interact daily with pastors.

Here are four common characteristics I’ve experienced and observed in the good pastors.

1. Humility
The good ones are humbled every time they think of God’s call. They instinctively imitate Saint Paul who said, “How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him” (1 Timothy 1:12). Typically, gratitude pours out of the mouths of men and women who try to fathom why God trusts them with such a tremendous responsibility.

2. Under-Shepherds
The good ones embrace their identities as “under-shepherds” who tend, feed, and care for the Good Shepherd’s flock. They willingly follow Saint Peter’s charge to elders, “Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example. And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

3. Enemy Threat
The good ones are bravely aware that a real enemy, Satan, targets them. They take seriously Peter’s admonition, “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

4. Desire Prayer
The good ones know the value of having others pray for them. And like Saint Paul who asked without hesitation, “And pray for me, too” (Ephesians 6:19), they ask others for it too.

I’m certain the psyche that I’ve just described applies equally to the entire leadership constituency of the United Brethren Church. But, since my goal here is to help you pray in an informed and effective way for pastors, it gives me the opportunity to speak specifically to what I know for certain goes on in the minds of good pastors.

In early January, Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, President of Huntington University, spoke to the United Brethren cluster leaders, who were in town for a two-day training session. Her message highlighted the century-long partnership between the University and the United Brethren Church.

A February 5 victory over Indiana Wesleyan gave Lori Culler (right) her 500th win as head coach of the Huntington University women’s basketball team. During her 28 years as coach, she has compiled a record of 500-320. She ranks third on the list of career wins among active women’s basketball coaches in the NAIA Division II.

Lori is the daughter of Garry and Lois Culler, who have served 40 years in the United Brethren ministry. Garry is currently Pastor of Congregational Care at Mount Pleasant UB church in Chambersburg, Pa.

With the Rosa de Sharon congregation in Jesus Maria, Mexico. Bishop Phil Whipple is in the back (with someone's hand partly over his face), and Jeff Bleijerveld is on the left side of the photo.

With the Rosa de Sharon congregation in Jesus Maria, Mexico. Bishop Phil Whipple is in the back (with someone’s hand partly over his face), and Jeff Bleijerveld is on the left side of the photo.

Bishop Phil Whipple and Global Ministries Director Jeff Bleijerveld are in central Mexico, visiting church with Bishop Denis Casco of the Mexico Conference. The are currently in the state of Queretero, about three hours north of Mexico City. They’ll be meeting with various churches and groups of pastors.

Last night (Thursday, February 6), Bishop Whipple preached at the Rosa de Saron (Rose of Sharon) UB church in the town of Jesus Maria. Jeff Bleijerveld translated for the bishop, who spoke about the experiences of four people who were at the foot of the cross.

Jeff writes: “Pastor Guadalupe Velazquez leads this church and another new plant nearby. It’s a church of about 100 of all ages and the only evangelical church in the community.”


Registration is now open for the 2014 UB Women’s Conference, with Early Early Bird Registration until April 1.

Date: September 19-21, 2014
Location: Huron, Ohio

Join hundreds of other United Brethren women and friends for the 2014 UB Women’s Conference. The conference will be held at the beautiful Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron, Ohio. That’s a little east of Toledo, very close to the Cedar Point amusement park. We held the 2007, 2009, and 2011 US National Conferences at Sawmill Creek, so it will be familiar to many of you.

Registration includes lodging, meeting costs, 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner.

Registration cost is based on number of persons sharing a room:

  • One person in a room: $310 per person
  • Two persons in a room: $189 per person
  • Three persons in a room: $149 per person
  • Four persons in a room: $129 per person (except for Early Early Bird Registration)

Early Early Bird Registration

  • Until April 1, the cost is just $99 per person for a quad-occupancy room (four persons sharing the room).
  • After August 15, the cost rises $50 per person and is on an availability-only basis. This is due to contracted arrangements with the hotel.

For More Information:

Please inform women in your church about this conference and encourage them to register. We’d love to see a whole van-load of women from your church!