dickson-john300By the time John Dickson was born on June 15, 1820, his family had been in the New World for three generations. His great-grandfather, amidst political troubles, fled Scotland at age 15 and, after spending a few years in Ireland, arrived in Philadelphia. He eventually settled around Lancaster, Pa.

Dickson’s grandfather was abducted by Indians when he was 7 years old, but was released after three months. He went on to serve in the military, and was one of only three soldiers to escape an Indian massacre; everyone else was killed and scalped. He fought in the Revolutionary War, along with his four brothers, all of whom were dead by the end of the war. One brother was killed at the battle of Monmouth, one at Brandywine, one by Indians, and the other died on the way home.

Dickson parents were Presbyterians, and he was required to recite the Westminster Catechism every Sunday. At age 17, he began teaching school in Pennsylvania. In 1842, he was converted under the preaching of a first-year minister during a service held in a schoolhouse near Chambersburg. Two years later, he became a United Brethren preacher.

For the next 22 years, Dickson was a pastor–sometimes of a circuit of scattered churches, sometimes of a congregation in a single location. He built some churches, and at every place, there were revivals. Henry Adams Thompson wrote of Dickson, “He never left a charge without leaving it in a better condition than when he took it.”

In 1869, Dickson was elected bishop (on the first ballot), and continued in that role until 1893. Daniel Berger said that in chairing meetings, “the progress of business was always safe in his hands.” And, “As an expository preacher, he has been recognized as having no peer in the denomination.” Thompson said Dickson’s style was to “bring home God’s Word with the least amount of verbiage.”

As a bishop, Dickson was a member of the 1885 Church Commission which worked on a new Constitution and Confession of Faith. However, he refused to participate because he feared it would lead to a division…which it did, in 1889. When the division occurred, he did what he could to hold the church together. However, he never considered leaving with Milton Wright. Thompson wrote, “If he could not conscientiously have remained with the Church, he would have sought a home in some other denomination.”

Dickson served one more term, and then was done in 1893.

At one point, Dickson wrote, “As a denomination, we have but little outside of our piety to depend upon. Other denominations have numbers, wealth, political and literary prestige. We are among the smaller denominations, and made up mostly of poor people. We have no author who has a reputation outside of our own denomination, and we have no one in the high places of the nation. If we lack in piety, we have nothing to build on, nothing to commend us to the people.”

Dickson apparently did a lot of writing. Thompson said of him, “While we may not always accept his views, he puts them clearly, forcibly, and without equivocation. We may not always believe in what he says, but we are sure he believes so. He has written nothing foolish. He writes to be understood, and the average reader knows what he means.”

L-r: George Weaver, Duane Reahm, and Raymond Waldfogel.

L-r: George Weaver, Duane Reahm, and Raymond Waldfogel.

We started the 1900s with four bishops, but in 1913 reduced to just three bishops for the next 40 years. In 1951, illness forced Albert M. Johnson to step down after 22 years as bishop. The 1953 General Conference decided to stick with just two bishops.

Clyde Meadows was one of those two bishops throughout the 1960s (1961-1969), and served the final year pretty much by himself after Bishop Robert Rash suffered severe heart problems. Both men retired in 1969.

When the 1969 General Conference ended on June 14, we had three rookie bishops.

George Weaver, had been pastoring the Otterbein UB church in Waynesboro, Pa. He served until 1977, and then left to become president of Winebrenner Seminary in Findlay, Ohio. He passed away in 2002.

Duane Reahm had been Executive Secretary of Missions since 1961. He now became bishop of the East District. In 1973, we created the position of “Overseas Bishop,” so he returned to providing oversight of the foreign conferences. He retired as bishop in 1981, and passed away in 1991 from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Raymond Waldfogel had been a pastor and fulltime superintendent in North Ohio Conference. He continued as bishop until 1981, and then returned to pastoral ministry. He passed away in 2011.

Tim and Tara Hallman.

Tim and Tara Hallman.

On Saturday, June 10, Tim Hallman received the Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago.

Hallman, an ordained UB minister (and son of UB ministry couple Gerald and Rozanne Hallman), graduated from Huntington College in 1996 and from the Graduate School of Christian Ministries in 1998. In 2008, he was awarded the Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Hallman pastored Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) from 1998 until 2016. He then accepted a position as Christian Emphasis Director with the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne.

Rev. John L. Ford, 78, passed away on Friday, June 9, 2017, in Cumberland, Md. He had been a pastor of the Clarksburg and Underwood UB churches, and was a member of Bethany House of the Lord in Cumberland.

Funeral date: 1:00 pm on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
Funeral location: Scarpelli Funeral Home, 108 Virginia Avenue, Cumberland, Md.

Left: Floyd and Janet Lundy. Right: Floyd and Kathy Lundy.

Left: Floyd and Janet Lundy. Right: Floyd and Kathy Lundy.

Kathy Custer, a member of Maple Hill UB church (now Homefront) in Grandville, Mich., went to Sierra Leone in October 1977 as secretary to Jerry Datema (who had been her pastor for a few years in the 1970s).

Jerry Datema was elected bishop in June 1981. Kathy came home on furlough that summer, but at the request of the Board of Missions, she returned to Africa in early September, a month early, to help prepare things for the new field secretary, Floyd Lundy.

Floyd and Janet Lundy arrived in Sierra Leone on November 5, 1981. It was not unfamiliar territory: they had served two terms in Sierra Leone 1964-1971. After they returned to the States in 1971, the Lundys settled in DeGraff, Ohio, where Floyd taught in the high school and pastored a church. Then, after a ten-year absence, Bishop Datema approached them about returning to Bumpe to take on the field secretary job. So—back to Sierra Leone.

Kathy Custer served alongside Floyd Lundy for eight months, and then returned to the States in June 1982 for TMJ surgery on her jaw. Her ailment prevented her from returning to Sierra Leone. Instead, she began working in the Missions department–once again, as secretary to Jerry Datema.

Floyd and Janet Lundy concluded their term in 1983, and returned to the States in July of that year. In November 1984, Janet was diagnosed with lung cancer, and then in mid-1985 with a brain tumor. She passed away.

On June 13, 1987, Floyd Lundy married his former secretary in Sierra Leone, Kathy Custer. Since then, they’ve been living in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

And today–June 13, 2017–Floyd and Kathy are celebrating their 30th anniversary. Congratulations!

Bishop Ezra Funk (right) was known as a great teacher. Looking toward heaven, he once said, “I hope there will be someone for me to teach.” He was especially adept at teaching biblical doctrine.

While pastoring churches in Pennsylvania, Funk chalked up 28 years as an elementary public schoolteacher. A school superintendent described him as “one of the most energetic teachers I have ever known.” And creative. He was always on the lookout for visual aids to use in the classroom. He put a sandbox in his classroom; students played in it, and he used it to teach measurements–quarters, cups, etc. Standing just over 5’3”, Funk wasn’t much taller than his students.

Ezra Funk was born July 3, 1886, in Cheesetown, Pa., just north of Chambersburg. He grew up in the York Brethren, a branch of the plain-dressing River Brethren. Always small for his age, he was subject to much bullying.

At age 20, when he announced to his parents that he was joining the United Brethren to become a minister, it didn’t go over well. But he knew that’s where God wanted him. In 1906, he joined the Salem UB church near Chambersburg and was licensed to preach.

He went on to pastor various churches in Pennsylvania–in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Orrstown, Strinestown, Waynesboro, Heidlersburg. In 1909 he and Bessie were married, and would have 11 children, two of which died as infants (Ezra assisted in nine of the births). He pastored Baptist churches 1919-1924, but then returned to the UB fold. In 1941, Funk was elected bishop, and served until 1957.

Funk was a voracious reader, and a dedicated walker. Every morning he took a brisk “devotional” walk, during which he would read the Bible and pray. He was always reading something, and was even known to take a book to read during denominational board meetings.

He read the Bible over and over. One time during a UB missions convention in Ontario, while everyone else spent the afternoon visiting Niagara Falls, Funk stayed behind to re-read the Book of Acts, on which he was preaching that night. A note in his Bible said he had already read Acts 111 times.

He was also devoted to UB missions. Two daughters served in Sierra Leone. He traveled three times to Jamaica to teach the pastors, he organized Honduras Conference in 1956, and he also visited our work in Hong Kong and Sierra Leone.

After the 1957 General Conference, Ezra and Bessie, along with daughter Erma, moved to Greencastle, Pa. Within a couple months, he was diagnosed with cancer. Bishop Ezra Funk passed away on June 10, 1958, at age 71.

(Many thanks to Nancy Hull N’Gele, who wrote the chapter about Bishop Funk in United Brethren Bishops, Volume 2.)

L-r: Lloyd and Eula Eby, Oneta Sewell, Erma Funk, Bernadine Hoffman.

L-r: Lloyd and Eula Eby, Oneta Sewell, Erma Funk, Bernadine Hoffman.

On April 9, we began following the journey of five missionaries to Sierra Leone in 1944–Lloyd and Eula Eby, Bernadine Hoffman, Oneta Sewell, and Erma Funk. On April 20, we left them in Natale, a city on the eastern tip of Brazil jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. From there, they planned to catch a plane to Africa. But it was war-time, and the missionaries found themselves stuck in Brazil for six weeks.

Planes were constantly making the flight across the Atlantic, but military people had priority. Finally, on June 4, Pan Am had a plane for them. A few seats would be filled by the wives of Firestone workers. All the rest would go to missionaries. On June 5, after a 14-hour flight, they landed in Liberia. (The next day, incidentally, the D-Day invasion occurred in Europe.)

Now the five United Brethren missionaries, along with six missionaries from other organizations, had to figure out how to get to Sierra Leone, along with all their luggage. Early one morning, they boarded a small boat for the 30-mile trip along the coast to Sierra Leone.

The rough seas and high waves left nearly everyone at least a little sick. Then, at the mouth of a river, they hit a sandbar, with high waves all around, and it became quite dangerous. The oarsmen jumped overboard and, one by one, carried the passengers ashore. When the wind subsided, they continued on to Sulimah, the southern-most village in Sierra Leone.

It was June 9, 1944. Exactly two months after leaving Indiana, they had arrived in Sierra Leone.

The next day, a doctor arrived from Pujehun on a lorry he had chartered. The missionaries were able to charter it back to Pujehun. From there, the eleven missionaries took a lorry to Bo, which was as far as the six non-UB missionaries needed to go.

The next day, the five UBs traveled by lorry to Mattru, and then took a boat to Bonthe. They had arrived.

Throughout 2017, we are recognizing significant events and stories from throughout our history. About every other day, a story is posted on UBCentral and Facebook. As of today, 100 stories have been posted this year. Number 101 will be posted on June 9. You can see them all listed here.

On that same page, you can subscribe to the UB Daily News to get each post by email. You can also see them by “liking” the United Brethren Facebook page.

You’ll find stories about UB missionaries, former bishops, significant meetings, influential people, important events, and more. “On This Day in UB History” will give you a greater appreciation for our heritage as a Church.

Three bishops influential in the history of the United Brethren Church in Canada (l-r): C. Ray Miller, John Jacob Glossbrenner, and Jacob Erb.

Three bishops influential in the history of the United Brethren Church in Canada (l-r): C. Ray Miller, John Jacob Glossbrenner, and Jacob Erb.

On June 7, 1992, Bishop C. Ray Miller officially established the United Brethren Church in Canada. For nearly 20 years, he had been bishop of the UB churches in Canada. But no more. Now they were a self-governing national conference–the first in our denomination.

Bishop Miller was, sort of, the second bishop to establish the Canadian conference.

John Jacob Glossbrenner served as bishop 1845-1885. That’s 40 years, which is longer (by 12 years) than any other United Brethren bishop. So he did a lot of things during his tenure. One of which was organizing a conference in Canada. That happened on April 19, 1856.

United Brethrenism in Canada developed in a hodgepodge sort of way, and involved an assortment of people.

A non-UB named John Cornell, from the “Cornell University” family, moved to Ontario in 1800 and spent the rest of his life as a preacher there. He started a number of churches.

Jacob Erb, a United Brethren minister from Ohio, was sent by his home conference, Pennsylvania, as a missionary to Canada around 1825. He preached and scattered a lot of seed, but didn’t organize any churches. He went back and forth, but had a continuing relationship with Canada. Erb was elected bishop in 1837 at the ripe old age of 33. He served eight years, took four years off, and then served another term, 1849-1853.

Bishop Christian Newcomer crossed into Canada in 1826 and preached at Fort Erie, right across the border from Buffalo. Some UBs had apparently immigrated to Canada, because Newcomer mentioned meeting “many acquaintances whom I had not seen for many years.”

Which brings us back to John Cornell. In 1854, Cornell, now a 72-year-old, began considering retirement. What would become of his scattered congregations? He met with Jacob Erb, liked what he heard about the United Brethren church, and brought his churches under the UB umbrella.

Two years later, Bishop Glossbrenner officially organized the Canada Mission Conference. There were eight ordained ministers—four Americans, and four Canadians (including John Cornell and his son, William)—plus one other licensed minister. The minutes from 1856 showed 152 members among 18 preaching appointments and seven organized churches. Growth came quickly. By 1863, membership had hit 1000.

What exactly did Bishop Miller do in 1992? He established the Canadian churches as a separate national conference. They had always been Ontario Conference, just another annual conference governed out of an office in Indiana. That went against Canadian laws. To retain their charitable status, our Canadian churches needed to be self-governing with their own Constitution. All UB national conferences are now set up this way.

So, Canada owns two firsts: our first conference outside of the United States, and our first national conference.

The 2017 US National Conference is just five weeks away. Registrations have now hit 760 (135 of them children), and we’ll soon hit 800. At this point, about 50 UB churches in the United States have not yet registered anybody for this historic 250th anniversary conference.

Although the conference hotel is filled up, we have secured a block of 25 rooms at the Heritage Hotel in Lancaster, about six miles away. The Heritage will honor our conference $125 (plus tax) rate. Please contact the Heritage Hotel directly to make reservations. Call 1-800-223-8963 extension 1580 for Resort Sales. Let them know you are registering as part of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (National Conference).

Many other hotels are located in the Lancaster area. You are free to make reservations anywhere you’d like. However, you’ll still need to register for the conference itself.


You can register using the links here. Costs:

  • Individual full conference: $75
  • Family full conference: $125
  • Day only: $40

Jonah: Sight & Sound Theater

The National Office has purchased a block of tickets for the Saturday afternoon, July 15, performance of “Jonah” at the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster, Pa. The theater is located nine miles from the conference center.

Thus far, 42 people have signed up. We still have 28 tickets. You need to sign up by June 15.

The conference will conclude around 11:00 Saturday morning. The show starts at 3:00 pm.

Make plans to extend your visit to Lancaster by joining us for this fantastic production! All tickets are on a first-come, first-paid, first-serve basis. Adult tickets are $75 and children (ages 3-12) are $35.


Keynote Speakers
During the Great Meeting of 1767 at Long’s Barn, Martin Boehm was preaching inside the barn while another minister was preaching in the orchard outside. Somewhat in that tradition, we will have two speakers each night. They will each address an aspect of that night’s theme. The opening night speakers will be Dennis Miller, senior pastor of Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.), and Jody Bowser, senior pastor of King Street UB church (Chambersburg, Pa.).

All of the keynote speakers are from the United Brethren world.

Friday morning will feature three rounds of workshops–some with a historical bent, some designed especially for women, plus workshops on a number of other subjects. You can read about the workshops here–the time slots, titles, and presenters.

A breakfast for retired ministers and spouses will also be held Friday morning.