On Wednesday, July 15, about 780 United Brethren from across the United States will begin gathering in Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2015 US National Conference. The venue is Reslife Church, a megachurch in Grandville, part of the Grand Rapids metro area.

Registration begins at noon. People will trickle in all afternoon. The conference actually begins at 6:30 with a worship service. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, who heads the Wesleyan seminary, is the keynote speaker on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.

After the service, National Ministries will host a reception, while the youth enjoy a pizza party compliments of Huntington University.

The UB National Office in Huntington, Ind., will be closed the rest of the week and next Monday (July 14-20). The entire staff will be helping at the National Conference. They’ll head up on Tuesday to begin set-up.

Emmett and Shirley Cox in Myanmar.

Emmett and Shirley Cox in Myanmar.

Emmett D. Cox, 89, passed away during the night on July 10, 2015.

Emmett and Shirley Cox served as missionaries in Sierra Leone over a 20-year period beginning in 1957. Emmett served as a secondary school principal, business manager, general superintendent, primary school secretary, and field secretary.

From 1969 to 1973, he served as the elected General Secretary of Missions for the denomination, overseeing our mission work around the world.

Visitation: 3-7 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Visitation location: Bailey-Love Mortuary in Huntington, Ind.

A memorial service and burial will be held at a later date.

Emmett Cox grew up in the Garnett UB church in Garnett, Kansas, and was converted in 1943. He graduated from Huntington College in 1951, and from its theological seminary in 1964. In 1969, he received a Masters in Missions from Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission in Pasadena, Calif. He was ordained in 1964.

He subsequently pastored several United Brethren churches:

  • 1958-1960: Fredonia UB church (Muncie, Ind.).
  • 1976-1984: Victory UB church (Burbank, Calif.).
  • 1984-1985: First UB church (Lake Havasu City, Ariz.).
  • 1985-1992: Willshire UB church (Willshire, Ohio).

From 1992-2003, he and Shirley served Six Mile Church, a non-UB congregation in Bluffton, Ind. In retirement, they also served short-term as volunteers in Myanmar.

Emmett and Shirley were married on August 14, 1948. Shirley is from the North Bruce UB church in Port Elgin, Ontario, and graduated from Huntington College in 1951 with a degree in Education. They have three children: son Douglas, daughter Darlene, and foster son Billy Simbo, from Sierra Leone.

Marvin Schwartz (left) was appointed interim pastor of Mount Victory UB church (Decatur, Ind.) at the beginning of June 2015. Marvin previously pastored New Horizons UB church in Rockford, Ohio.

Wes Kuntzman (right) was appointed senior pastor of Mount Zion UB church (also known as Bobo) in Decatur, Ind., starting July 1, 2015. He previously pastored the UB church in Monroe, Ind.

Emmett and Shirley Cox in Myanmar.

Emmett and Shirley Cox in Myanmar.

Rev. Emmett D. Cox passed away during the night. He and his wife, Shirley, were United Brethren missionaries in Sierra Leone 1954-1957, and 1960-1968. In 1969, he was elected General Secretary of Missions, which made him overseer of all UB missionary work around the world. He continued in that position until 1973. In subsequent years, he served as a United Brethren pastor. In retirement, the Coxes served as volunteer missionaries in Myanmar.

Funeral details will be published when available.

The Huntington University team going to China for the summer 2015 program.

The Huntington University team going to China for the summer 2015 program (click to enlarge).

On July 9, 2015, seven Huntington University teams with a total of 54 persons departed for five locations in China to lead English language camps.

Since 2007, HU’s Institute for TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Studies has sponsored yearly English camps and training in China. This year’s trip will include six HU faculty members, 16 current Huntington students, seven alumni, and Dr. Luke Fetters (right), director of the Institute for TESOL Students at HU. They will train 195 teachers and 730 students will be trained.

The teams will provide English-speaking instruction and camps for students, as well as TESOL training for teachers in the cities of Changsha, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, and the district of Doumen. The university’s Institute for TESOL Studies organizes the programming each year, writing curriculum and recruiting volunteers.

Four of the HU teams will assist in the teacher training for two weeks before returning to the United States. Two other teams will return after three weeks, and one team will remain in China for five weeks. For HU students, the trip fulfills a practicum required a TESOL minor or certificate.

 The 2015 summer will conclude a five-year contract between HU and the Doumen district. Shoshannnah McKinney (right), associate director of the Institute for TESOL Studies, said by the end of the five years, every teacher within the district will have participated in the HU-sponsored training.

The summer program will continue to strengthen the relationship that HU has with China. “Over the past eight years, HU has grown in terms of being known in China,” McKinney said.

While the teams are in China, McKinney will spearhead another TESOL-sponsored program on HU’s campus. This program is a three-week TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course that will certify 19 Chinese professors to teach English at their respective universities.

M. Catherine Hawbaker, 94, passed away Saturday morning, July 4, 2015, at a nursing home in Newville, Pa. She was the wife of former United Brethren pastor Rev. Laban Hawbaker, who passed away in 1999.

The funeral was held at 11 am on Wednesday, July 8, at Prince Street UB church in Shippensburg, Pa., where Catherine was a member.


Dr. Sherilyn Emberton (right), President of Huntington University

On Tuesday evening, July 7, an Economic Development Agreement between Huntington University and the City of Peoria, Arizona, was approved by the Peoria City Council with a unanimous “Yes” vote. Jeff Berggren, HU representative, reported that Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat smiled after announcing the vote and stated “Huntington University, welcome to Peoria!” The City of Peoria will provide up to $1.875 million dollars of financial support for the HU Digital Media Arts campus over the next three years.

It was almost three years ago, in August of 2012, that Dr. Ann McPherren and Jeff Berggren made the first trip out to Peoria on behalf of HU. Over that time, our relationships with the city have deepened and we have created connections with potential partners to assist us with a successful new campus location in Arizona.

We have also narrowed down our initial academic offerings to digital media arts, which immediately fills unmet demand in higher education in the state of Arizona. HU digital media arts will build on a strong training program within the Peoria Unified School District that will have over 1400 high school students involved in digital media this coming fall. This partnership creates a pipeline for students to study media from high school to college to a robust job market, all within the same community.

A school of DMA will establish HU as one of two universities (along with Trine) in a rapidly growing city (quickly approaching the size of Fort Wayne) that is part of the fifth largest metro area in the country (soon to be the fourth largest, trailing only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago). They are very interested in other HU academic programs coming to Peoria as additional partnership opportunities present themselves.

There remain several key steps before we can officially commit to the Peoria expansion. HU has already been working on a number of these next steps necessary for our campus launch. The Economic Development Agreement was certainly a critical step.

Peoria will be a great city to serve as we extend our mission to impact our world for Christ 2,000 miles to the Southwest.

Derek Thrush (left) with children from Iglesia Luz in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Derek Thrush (left) with children from Iglesia Luz in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Derek Thrush with Pastor Janiria of Iglesia Luz.

Derek Thrush with Pastor Janiria of Iglesia Luz.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Praying with Honduran kids.

Praying with Honduran kids.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Derek Thrush, senior pastor, Devonshire Church (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Just last week, a team of 11 individuals from Devonshire Church returned from a trip to Puerto Cortes, Honduras. There, we spent 10 days reconnecting and ministering with our sister church, Iglesia Luz, in the barrio of Camaguey.

Our primary ministry focus throughout the week was:

  • Leading a week-long Children’s Bible School.
  • Meeting and sharing with home groups.
  • Bringing encouragement to the Iglesia Luz church family.
  • Helping complete the construction of classrooms and replacing a roof on the church parsonage.
  • Serving the needs of families in the community.

Through the past four visits and a 12-year partnership in the gospel, it has been a gift to experience sweet times of fellowship as brothers and sisters united in Christ. It was such a joy to reconnect with a sister church family where we’ve seen friendships develop, families grow, and a deepening of Christian love for one another.

robert-staup300Robert W. “Bob” Staup, 89, died July 3, 2015, at his home in Angola, Ind. Bob retired in November 2012 after 55 years of ministry as a United Brethren pastor.

According to denominational records, Bob served these UB churches:

  • 1958-1967: Union Chapel (Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • 1963-1969: South Scipio (Harlan, Ind.).
  • 1969-1982: Hudson (Hudson, Ind.).
  • 1972-1982: Corunna (Corunna, Ind.).
  • 1982-1995: Nettle Lake (Montpelier, Ohio) and Mt. Pleasant (Angola, Ind.).
  • 2001-2012: Mt. Pleasant (Angola, Ind.).

Bob was born January 23, 1926, in Adrian, Mich. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard the LST 670 during World War II and participated in several Pacific Island invasions. He graduated from Huntington College in 1963 and was ordained in 1963.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, whom he married in 1948. Also surviving are two daughters, two sons, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

Visitation time: 3-7 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2015.
Visitation location: H.E. Johnson & Sons Funeral Home, 108 S. West Street Angola.
Funeral service time: 11 am Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Visitation one hour beforehand.
Funeral location: Mt. Pleasant UB church, 2140 S. 850 E. Angola, IN 46703.

Officiating will be two grandsons, along with Rev. Devon Strine, pastor of Mt. Pleasant UB church.

Memorials are to Mt. Pleasant United Brethren In Christ Church, 2140 S. 850 E. Angola, IN 46703 or Honor Flight NEI, P.O. Box 5, Huntertown, Indiana 46748.

We received news of the death of Rev. Robert Staup, a United Brethren pastor for 55 years. He began pastoring the Union Chapel UB church (Fort Wayne, Ind.), in 1958, and served five other UB churches in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio until retiring in 2012. His final pastorate was at Mt. Pleasant UB church (Angola, Ind.), 2001-2012.

Rev. Staup had been sick for some time, and was in hospice care. He was 89 years old.

Funeral details will be posted as available.