cora-eleanor-moreyEleanor Laughlin Morey (right), a former UB missionary to Sierra Leone, passed away on August 7, 2014, at her home in Mt. Morris, Mich. She was 80. Eleanor served three years as a teacher in Sierra Leone, 1968-1971. She and Kenneth Morey, who passed away in 2010, were married in 1978. She retired from Flint Community Schools, and remained active as a member of Richfield Road UB church (Flint, Mich.). Eleanor is survived by her four children.

Visitation: 1-4 pm and 6-8 pm on Friday, August 8.
Visitation location: Allen Funeral Home, 9136 Davison Rd., Davison, Mich.
Funeral: 2 pm Saturday, August 9, 2014.
Funeral location: Richfield Road UB church, 6259 Richfield Road, flint, Mich. Visitation one hour beforehand.

Rev. Jim Pryor, pastor of Richfield Road, will officiate at the funeral.

The United Brethren App is now available for the Kindle. Earlier this summer, it was made available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.

When you launch the app, it opens up to the news feed from You can see the latest UB news directly on your mobile device.

You’ll also find many other resources:

  • Information about the UB church–beliefs, history, leadership.
  • The complete UB Discipline and Pastoral Ministry Handbook.
  • Info on each country which has UB churches.
  • Upcoming UB events.
  • Lots of information for ministers–licenses, education, assignment process, clergy finances.
  • A few videos and podcasts.
  • Links to various UB-related websites.

google-play    app-store kindle-button-154x52

Terry and Barbi Franklin

Terry and Barbi Franklin

Rhodes Grove Camp is sponsoring a Pastoral Couples Retreat September 8-10. Rhodes Grove is located outside of Chambersburg, Pa.

The retreat begins at 1 am on Monday, September 8, and concludes at 3 pm on Wednesday, September 10.

Rhodes Grove Camp invites pastoral couples to a special Pastoral Couples Retreat September 8-10. The event is free.

Space is limited, so if you’re interested, call the camp office to reserve your spot. Phone: 717-375-4162.

The retreat features teaching and music from Terry & Barbi Franklin.

Check in begins Monday @ 10:00 am.
First Session @ 1:00.
Monday Lunch – Wednesday Lunch provided.
Tuesday dinner – date night on your own.
Confidential counseling/mentoring is available.

On Sunday night, September 7, a Concert of Praise will be held with Terry and Barbi. This concert will be open to the public. If you and your spouse choose to attend the concert, you are welcome to spend the night Sunday and enjoy a continental breakfast Monday morning.

John Pessima (right), Bishop, Sierra Leone Conference

The following is excerpted from an August 6 email from Bishop Pessima to Donna Hollopeter, associate director of Global Ministries.

A United Brethren pastor’s wife, Mrs. Mbaindu Laggar, died from Ebola on Sunday at the treatment center in Kenema. She was a nurse.

We appreciate all UB churches and members in the US who are praying for our country and for us your partners. By the grace of God this Ebola epidemic will be over very soon.

We have all joined hands together with the government to fight this deadly epidemic. A national religious leaders task force on Ebola has been formed. I happen to be a member of that 11 man committee of both Christian and Muslim leaders in the country. We always come together to fight a national cause.

During the war, this group went into the bush and talked to the rebels to seek reasons for peace, and it worked. After this past election, this group again brought the President and the opposition leader together in the name of peace. We have again come together to fight this epidemic which, by the grace of God, will be over soon.

We are happy for what Jeff Bleijerveld is doing, promoting our cause on this epidemic. We are eagerly waiting for funds to go to our people in Mattru, Bumpe, Rutile and even Freetown for sensitization, as other denominations are currently doing.

L-r: Maria Espinoza, Sandy and Phil Whipple, Rafael Coss, and Robert Espinoza.

L-r: Maria Espinoza, Sandy and Phil Whipple, Rafael Coss, and Robert Espinoza.

Phil Whipple, Bishop

After our weekend visit to the UB church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bishop Denis Casco, my wife Sandy, and I returned to El Paso on Tuesday night, July 1. The previous week, we attended services at two of the four UB churches in El Paso. Now we went to a third church, but only for a meal—no service that night.

This church, called Templo Cristiano Vida Grata, is located in Montana Vista, a suburb of El Paso. The building is unique. It started as a garage, and has been added onto a couple times. It can seat 80-some people, which is about what they run in attendance. The church’s pastor, Rafael Coss, and several of his children were there; the youngest is probably still in high school.

Robert Espinoza

Robert Espinoza

Robert Espinoza and some of his adult children came that night. Robert has been a United Brethren pastor for least 15 years now, and would be considered the leader of the UB churches in El Paso. He and his wife and children all speak English very well. Robert is a humble, sweet-spirited guy. It’s easy to feel a connection with his spirit, and I told him so.

After the meal, we sat around and talked about a variety of things. Robert spoke a little about his deep appreciation for Denis Casco, and his appreciation for us being there. Then Denis and I both spoke.

At a restaurant, I asked Robert to tell me his story. He was initially reluctant, saying that his life before Christ was not a pretty picture. But as we warmed in conversation, he shared his spiritual journey.

Robert was born in Mexico, but his family moved to El Paso when he was a boy. That’s where he grew up. Back in the 1960s, he lived sort of the hippy lifestyle as part of the San Francisco drug scene. One particular time he was close to death. His brother was instrumental in getting him out of that lifestyle.

Robert underwent a powerful conversation. He became involved in a church and even did some preaching in San Francisco. But then he felt the urge to return to El Paso.

Robert has, I think, six children. One son, Robert Jr., also went down a very bad path, one strewn with a lot of easy money. He ended up spending four years in prison for money laundering, and his wife left him.

Robert Jr. told me he is thankful for prison, because it forced him to confront his sin and turn his life around. He has been out of prison for about three years now, and God has really turned his life around. He remains single, and has a relationship with his children.

Robert Jr. now leads one of the two services at El Sembrador, the church his father pastors. They discovered that kids were leaving the church when they got old enough, and that bothered them. When they inquired about it, they learned that the younger people were struggling to understand Spanish. They had come up through American schools, and English was their preferred language. So now the early service is in English, with Robert Jr. preaching. It is attended mostly by younger people.

This, I understand, is a challenge faced by Hispanic churches across the country. As the heart language changes from Spanish to English, they must either adapt or limit their fishing pond to persons who maintain Spanish as their primary language.

Bishop Phil and Sandy Whipple (seated) with Pastor Jesus and Irma Lopez of the Centro Cristiano Shalom church in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Bishop Phil and Sandy Whipple (seated) with Pastor Jesus and Irma Lopez of the Centro Cristiano Shalom church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (click to enlarge)

Rev. Denis Casco, bishop of Mexico Conference, speaking at Centro Cristiano Shalom. His networking brought the Santa Fe (and El Paso) churches into the United Brethren fold.

Rev. Denis Casco, bishop of Mexico Conference, speaking at Centro Cristiano Shalom. His networking brought the Santa Fe (and El Paso) churches into the United Brethren fold.

The Friday night service at Centro Cristiano Shalom.

The Friday night service at Centro Cristiano Shalom.

The Lopez family. L-r: Berenice, Irma, a couple who serve another Hispanic church in Santa Fe, Jesus, and Jaaziel.

The Lopez family. L-r: Berenice, Irma, an unknown couple, Jesus, and Jaaziel.

A Saturday night gathering at Centro Cristiano Shalom of Hispanic pastors and others from throughout Santa Fe.

A Saturday night gathering at Centro Cristiano Shalom of Hispanic pastors and others from throughout Santa Fe.

Phil Whipple, Bishop

At the end of June, I visited the Hispanic United Brethren churches in El Paso, Texas. Joining me were my wife, Sandy, and Denis Casco, Bishop of Mexico Conference.

On June 27, after a few days in El Paso, we drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico, about five hours straight north. This was my first time in New Mexico. Santa Fe is up about 7000 feet, so it wasn’t as hot as the furnace of El Paso.

We met with Pastor Jesus Lopez and his wife, Irma. Pastor Lopez is very humble in spirit, the type of person you enjoy being around. He and his family originally came form Juarez, Mexico. Jesus has two children—Jaaziel, in his early 20s, and a daughter, Berenice, who is a sophomore in high school.

Centro Cristiano Shalom, their church, a service that night, a Friday night. The congregation was very young. I would guess that Pastor Lopez, who is in his mid to late 40s, is as old as anybody in the church. Both of his children were both part of the worship team, all of whom were probably under age 25. Everything was in Spanish, but a couple songs did use some English, which helped.

My translator was a young woman in her 20s who was attending college locally. She and her husband had just given birth to their first child. She was born in the United States and grew up speaking Spanish, but English is her first language. She did a good job interpreting for me. However, she had some trouble when I asked her to read Scripture from the Spanish Bible. She speaks Spanish well, but is not accustomed to reading Spanish.

They put together a slideshow of Santa Fe to give us a sense of the city. The area has a lot of Indian influences, some satanic worship, and a strong gay movement (a big Gay Pride parade occurred on Sunday).

On Saturday, they took us around the city. One stop was an old Catholic church, now a historical building, which features a spiral staircase with no visible nails. I saw only one joint. An unknown workman built the staircase, and they don’t know how he did it.

On Saturday night, Centro Cristiano Shalom hosted a conference with other pastors and church leaders from the Hispanic community–probably 45-50 people representing about eight different churches. Jesus seemed to be a leader among them. During July, their ministerial group was bringing in a Hispanic speaker for a joint evangelistic effort. They asked me to speak about unity and reconciliation, because there seemed to be some need for that among that group of ministers. It was a very nice night. Both Denis and I spoke, and found the pastors very receptive. Pastor Lopez’s son, who is studying to become a chef, served a nice meal after the service.

The church holds its regular Sunday service at 5 pm. I preached again. Each night’s service was followed by a meal. The people were warm and gracious, and encouraged us to come back. They gave me and Denis very nice long-sleeve shirts on which was printed the UB logo along with the words “Church of the United Brothers in Christ,” a more literal translation of “brethren.” The same wording, along with the UB logo, is used on the outside of the church building.

During the time of Bishop Ray Seilhamer in the late 1990s, a event was organized through Latin American Ministries to training Hispanic UB ministers in the United States. Pastor Lopez took that training. He showed me a certificate of completion hanging on his wall.

Jesus’ command of English is okay, but not great. His wife, Irma, doesn’t understand English at all. The son, in his early 20s, was born in Juarez but entered US schools during his junior high years, whereas the daughter, Bernice, has been in US schools all her life. Her English is very good. Sitting around the table after services, Bernice did the interpreting.

Sunday night, after the service, Pastor Lopez was comfortable enough to sit down and have a conversation with me in English. He could converse fine in English, but he’s uncomfortable doing so, feeling he might miss something. It’s a confidence issue. But the next time I visit, I know I’ll be able to conserve with Jesus without an interpreter.

Next: Back in El Paso with Rev. Robert Espinoza.

Bishop Phil Whipple (with microphone) closing the Wednesday night service at the El Sembrador church in El Paso. On his left is the church's pastor, Rev. Robert Espinoza. (click to enlarge)

Bishop Phil Whipple (with microphone) closing the Wednesday night service at the El Sembrador church in El Paso. On his left is the church’s pastor, Rev. Robert Espinoza. (click to enlarge)

The worship team at El Sembrador.

The worship team at El Sembrador.

L-r: Robert Espinoza, Carlos Chavez (a UB pastor in Juarez, Mexico), a layperson, Bishop Phil Whipple, Bishop Denis Casco.

L-r: Robert Espinoza, Carlos Chavez (a UB pastor in Juarez, Mexico), a layperson, Bishop Phil Whipple, Bishop Denis Casco.

The El Sembrador church in El Paso.

The El Sembrador church in El Paso.

Phil Whipple, Bishop

During June, Sandy and I visited the United Brethren churches in Texas and New Mexico. We traveled with Denis Casco, Bishop of Mexico Conference. It was through Denis that these churches landed in our fellowship.

You may be surprised to know that we have churches in those states, but we do—four churches in El Paso, Texas, and one in Santa Fe, New Mexico. All are Hispanic churches.

These churches became part of us during the 1990s. At the time, Denis served as Director of Latin American Ministries, working to start Hispanic churches in the United States. Denis, who is excellent at networking, came in contact with these churches and they chose to affiliate with us.

El Paso is on the tip of the far western arm of Texas. Across the Rio Grande River is Juarez, Mexico, which ranks among the most violent cities in the world. We have several churches in Juarez, but they are part of Mexico Conference.

We arrived on a Wednesday and attended a service at the El Sembrador church in El Paso. The pastor there is Robert Espinoza. Among the UB churches in El Paso, he would be considered the leader.

El Sembrador has its own building, which probably seats around 100. It was a pretty full house that night. One of Robert’s daughters led the worship band, and she was excellent. They had guitars, drums, and several vocalists, all fairly young.

They had invited all of the other pastors in both El Paso and Juarez—8 or 9 pastors in all. Robert introduced the various pastors, all of whom came forward to give a testimony. It was a long service, but fun and enjoyable.

Robert has two other children involved in the church. A daughter and her husband will probably be the next pastoral couple among the El Paso churches.

Juarez, Mexico

The next day we crossed into Mexico, along with a lay couple, and toured the UB churches in Juarez. The first church we visited had a woman pastor, whom I had met the night before; she joined us. Robert Espinoza and his wife, Maria, were also there. They traveled with us, in their own vehicle, the rest of the day.

We visited five churches and a preaching point, all United Brethren churches spread out in different parts of Juarez. The church with the newest building is probably a quarter mile from the Rio Grande; you can see El Paso on the other side. That church had started in a small building, no larger than a garage. Now that building is used for storage, and they meet in a newer building, probably 2-3 years old. It’s a wood-frame building, similar to a machine shed with wood siding (most buildings in Mexico use cement blocks). They’re still finishing the inside.

This congregation does a lot of ministry in feeding the many homeless people in that area. Helping these folks gives them a certain sense of protection; they won’t let anything happen to this church, because they get food from there. It’s not the safest location, but the UB members feel safe and have been safe.

We kept picking up the pastors as we went. By the time we reached the final church, our numbers had swelled to at least 20 persons. This was intentional on Denis Casco’s part. Knowing that Juarez was a dangerous city, he thought there would be security in numbers. I wasn’t alarmed by anything I saw in Juarez. However, we visited during the daytime and then returned to El Paso before dark.

Back in El Paso

I spoke at a UB church in El Paso that night. This congregation, much smaller than the night before, met in a strip mall storefront; they had relocated since Bishop Casco’s last visit. There were probably 25-30 people; I doubt the building could have handled more than 40.

Everyone there spoke English…except for the couple who had spent the day driving us around Juarez. For their sake, my message was translated by a young woman named Christina. She is married with three kids, though it looked to me like she could be in high school. This was the first time Christina had ever translated a sermon. She struggled to get into the rhythm of it, but whenever she stumbled over a word, the congregation would help her out, since they all understood English.

It was a good experience for Christina, because it kept her engaged with the message. Some deep work happened in a number of people that night, including Christina, who was in tears by the end of the message. I don’t know her story, but God moved in her life that night.

The pastor there is the brother of Robert Espinoza. He is getting up in years and health issues prevent him from doing much. For that reason another man, a sharp fellow in his mid 40s or 50s, is taking on the role. Though that man wouldn’t call himself the pastor, he does most of the preaching. Christina is his daughter.

Reinforcing the UB Bond

The Hispanic church world seems to place more emphasis on churches starting other churches: “We’re excited about what’s happening here, but we want to plant a church somewhere else, too.” They don’t need a lot of resources, as is usually the case with starting churches among suburban Anglo populations. Give them a speaker and a location, and if people start congregating, they’ll have a church. It’s ingrained in their thinking, part of the DNA of Hispanic ministries.

When the El Paso churches first affiliated with us, some financial support came from the national office. But then a shift occurred—that we would support them from a relationship and training standpoint, but not with finances. They bought into that. I got no sense that they were looking for any kind of financial support. Their interest is in the relationship with other United Brethren churches in the United States. However, I think they would love for us to provide some training for their pastors. We can probably do that.

There’s a good relationship between the churches in Juarez and El Paso, but the border does separate them. The churches in Juarez see themselves as part of Mexico Conference, while the churches in El Paso clearly see themselves as United States churches. That distinction matters to them. However, they are fine with Denis Casco working on both sides of the river.

I appreciate the way Bishop Casco has engaged with these churches during his periodic visits, reinforcing the US United Brethren connection even though he is the bishop in a whole different country. Denis waves the United Brethren banner wherever he goes. To him, being part of the United Brethren Church is more important than which national conference you belong to.

I went to El Paso and Santa Fe wanting to connect these churches with the national church in the US. In all the turmoil following our major restructuring in 2005 and the creation of Mexico Conference, these churches somewhat slid off of our radar. But thanks at least in part to the work of Denis Casco, I founded that being connected to the United Brethren Church is very important to these churches. I look forward to nourishing this relationship in the years ahead.

Tomorrow: Visiting the UB church in Santa Fe