08 Sep A Farewell from the Staff for Phil and Sandy Whipple
On Thursday evening, September 3, the staff of the National Office held a farewell get-together for Bishop Phil and Sandy Whipple. Bishop Whipple led the US National Conference, including overseeing the National Office, for six years, 2009-2015.
Staff and spouses met the Whipples at the home of Jeff and Charlene Bleijerveld in Fort Wayne, Ind. All of the current staff, and all but one spouse, attended.
The evening began with a catered meal of brisket, pulled pork, and beans. Melissa Hull provided cheesecake and cupcakes for dessert, while her husband, David, mixed homemade ice cream.
After the meal, everyone gathered in the family room as some gifts were presented to the Whipples. A primary gift was a copy of a pencil drawing which will be placed in the National Office. On the walls of the main hallway are pencil drawings of every bishop going back to Martin Boehm and William Otterbein, the first two United Brethren bishops when the church officially organized in 1800. There were 23 bishops prior to the division of the church in 1889, and 31 bishops since then, making Bishop Whipple the 54th bishop to serve our denomination.
The drawing was done by Barbara Bosworth, whose husband, Darrel, is pastor of Kilpatrick UB church in Woodland, Mich. Barbara is a very talented artist who specializes in pencil drawings. She has her own studio in Lake Odessa, Mich. The portrait features the new United Brethren logo with the “All for Christ” tagline, which was adopted under Bishop Whipple’s watch.
The drawing also includes very appropriate words from Acts 20:2, “He traveled throughout the region, speaking many words of encouragement to the people.” Bishop Whipple made a point of visiting every UB church during his first two years, and was constantly traveling on behalf of the Church. Much of his work was done personally with pastors and spouses, and with congregations.
After the presentation of gifts, everyone gathered around Phil and Sandy, laid hands on them, and together prayed Numbers 6:24-26 (NLT) as a benediction for them:
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. Amen.
Later in the evening, Bishop Whipple was given opportunity to make some remarks of appreciation to the staff and spouses. Gary Gates, director of Ministerial Licensing, then led in prayer for Phil and Sandy and whatever their future holds, after which the staff broke into a spontaneous verse of “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
It was an evening filled with much fun and laughter. But it was also an emotional time, as the staff bid a very fond farewell to this couple who gave so much of themselves to the Church during the past six years. Nearly 40 photos can be viewed on the UB Facebook page.