Author Steve Dennie with copies of “Against the Blighting Curse.”

“Against the Blighting Curse: The Church of the United Brethren Christ During the Civil War,” is now available on Amazon. It was written by Steve Dennie, the UB Communications Director. The paperback edition is $14.95, and the Kindle edition is a $6.95.

Thousands of United Brethren men fought in the Civil War. This book tells hundreds of stories about these soldiers, and also explores what was happening on the home front.

You’ll meet Medal of Honor winners, future professors and judges, Union spies, a former missionary turned Army surgeon, Underground Railroad operators, and a cavalry chaplain who fought Napoleon at Waterloo. You’ll meet dozens of UB ministers who left their pulpits to carry rifles and storm rebel fortifications. You’ll even cross paths with famed explorer Henry Stanley, with the author of several of our favorite Christmas songs, and with a UB layperson in Ohio who ended up in a Disney movie.

The title is taken from a resolution by the UB church’s Erie Conference at the beginning of the war: “We will devoutly pray that God may so overrule this national calamity that THE BLIGHTING CURSE of slavery, which is causing all this loss of blood and treasure, may be swept from the land — until all its inhabitants shall enjoy the rights of men and the privileges of the gospel of Christ.”

Five in-person meetings and one online meeting will be held in early May to discuss the upcoming US National Conference (July 11-14 in Fort Wayne, Ind.). Bishop Todd Fetters will lead the meetings. These gatherings are open to anyone, but UB ministers and lay delegates are strongly encouraged to attend.

Attendees will get a preview of about 30 proposals for revising the United Brethren Discipline. A representative from the Human Reproduction Task Force will explain their proposals for revising the Discipline with statements on abortion, family planning, reproductive technologies, adoption, foster care, and related issues. The preview meetings will give people a first-look at the proposals and an opportunity to discuss them in advance of the business meeting on July 12.

For those who can’t attend one of the regional meetings, we’ll have a virtual meeting on May 15 via Zoom. You’ll receive a sign-in link before the meeting.

Please register using this link.

Locations and Times

Monday, May 1: Sunfield, Mich.
Sunfield UB Church
8436 W. Grand Ledge Highway, Sunfield, MI 48890
Time: 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, May 3: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Emmanuel Community Church
12222 US Highway 24 W, Fort Wayne, IN 46814
Time: 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Sunday, May 7: Lancaster, Ohio
Lancaster UB Church
1125 Pleasantville Road, Lancaster, OH 43130
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Monday, May 8: Chambersburg, Pa.
King Street Church
162 E King St, Chambersburg, PA 17201
Time: 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Tuesday, May 9: Franklin, Pa.
Atlantic Avenue UB Church
160 Atlantic Ave, Franklin, PA 16323
Time: 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Monday, May 15: Virtual via Zoom
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Later in April, the proposals and other information will be available for download at this address. You’re encouraged to look it over and bring it to the meeting.

A Youth Camp will run alongside the US National Conference this summer. It is for any youth currently in grades 8-12 (or who, this summer, will have completed those grades). They do not need to be attending the USNC.

The Youth Camp will begin on Tuesday, July 11. After the opening service of the National Conference, students will be transported to Huntington University. They will spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at the college, with meals provided on campus.

On Wednesday and Thursday, students will participate in various activities, both on-campus and off-campus. They will then be returned to Fort Wayne on Friday morning, as the National Conference concludes.

We encourage you to bring your youth for this special camp. They do not need to register for the US National Conference or have parents attending the conference. Just get them to Fort Wayne for the opening service, and some great folks from Huntington University will take it from there.

Register for the Youth Camp here.

Teresa Roberts has joined the UB Global staff as part-time administrative assistant. She takes the place of Angela Vincenti, who had served in that role since January 2021 (Angela has taken a position at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind.).

Teresa grew up in Columbia City, Ind., and graduated in 2009 from Anderson University with a degree in Elementary Education. During college, she participated in two short-term mission trips to Romania. During that second trip, she felt a definite call to missions.

Her husband, Dave, grew up partly as a missionary kid in Panama, where his father served with HCJB Radio. He experienced his own call to missions during a trip to Guatemala. After getting married, they explored various mission opportunities, but every time they thought God was leading in a certain direction, the door would close. But they remained willing. Then, in 2015, they discovered Cornerstone Foundation while attending the Urbana missions conference and were immediately drawn to it. They were accepted, and in March 2017 found themselves on the field in Honduras.

Dave and Teresa served five years at the Loma de Luz hospital on the north coast of Honduras (where Christy and Rigo Andino are serving). This full-service hospital is the hub for a variety of other ministries, including education, foster care, agriculture, and community development. Dave handled maintenance for everything, while Teresa taught first grade for four years.

The Roberts family concluded their service with Cornerstone in 2022 and returned to Fort Wayne. Dave now works as an engineer with Bendix. They have two children, Levi and Zoey, and are in the process of adopting two children from Honduras.

Dr. Ron Baker

Dr. Ron Baker, 76, a former UB missionary doctor in Sierra Leone, passed away on Friday, March 10, 2023, in Berrien Springs, Mich.

Visitation: 5-8 pm Friday, March 17, 2023.
Funeral: 10 am Saturday, March 18, 2023, with visitation one hour beforehand.
Visitation and Funeral Location: Berrien Center Bible Church, 8830 M-140, Berrien Center, MI 49102 (

Ron grew up mostly in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where his parents, Dr. DeWitt and Evelyn Baker, were United Brethren in Christ missionaries. In 6th grade, at the Kabala-Rupp school for missionary children in northern Sierra Leone, he committed his life to Jesus Christ. He was able to immerse himself in the local language and culture, which would serve him well when he came back as an adult to serve as a missionary doctor.

Ron graduated from Huntington University, where he met his wife, Jane, and from Indiana University Medical School. In 1974, the Bakers arrived in Sierra Leone as fulltime United Brethren missionaries. Ron become Chief Medical Officer at Mattru Hospital. During the next 16 years, Mattru became a thriving, well-known hospital with a strong spiritual foundation. By 1981, the hospital had grown to 69 beds with pediatrics, obstetrics, surgical, and out-patient units. Many new buildings arose on the hospital’s 15 acres.

Being one of only a few white men who were fluent in Mende, the local language, Ron was greatly respected. He recalled years later, “Every time we did surgery, we prayed out loud. We had guys who could pray in several different languages. I could pray in Mende or Krio, Solomon could pray in Temne or Sherbro, another guy could speak Limba. We couldn’t speak all of the languages, but we covered a lot of them.” The locals were also drawn to him and his family due to the love of Christ demonstrated to them.

Upon leaving the field in mid-1990, Ron began working permanently at Southwestern Medical Clinic in Stevensville, Mich., where he had worked during his furloughs since 1981. It was a way-station of sorts for a number of missionary doctors. Over the years, Ron made a number of trips back to Sierra Leone, often leading short-term medical teams.

Ron’s motto was “Work Hard. Play Hard.” He loved to share his passion for hunting and fishing, mentoring many in the craft. Ron was very active at Berrien Center Bible Church. Most importantly, throughout his life he made it a priority to share his faith with countless people in the US and overseas.

Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. DeWitt and Evelyn Baker; and his younger brother, Norman, who was killed as a boy in a boating accident while on a school trip in Sierra Leone. He is survived by his wife Jane; children Jennifer, Jeff, and Julie and their families; and sisters Joyce Hewitt and Annette Shepherdson.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to Huntington University (, UB Global (, or Berrien Center Bible Church (

Messages and memories may be shared online at

Luella Hamblin

Luella Rose (Knight) Hamblin passed away on February 24, 2023, 55 days short of her 101st birthday.

Luella was born on April 20, 1922, in Lakeview, Mich., the seventh of nine children. She did some factory work during World War II and then went on to Calvin College and then Huntington University, where she met her future husband, Howard Hamblin.

Luella taught grades K-8 for two years, then left teaching to marry Howard in 1949. They had three children: Bruce, Carol and Stanley. The Hamblins pastored United Brethren churches at McCallum, Baltimore, and Lowell. Luella was a faithful stay-at-home mom, pastor’s wife, and Sunday school teacher for many years.

Howard passed away in 2001. Her sons Bruce and Stanley also preceded her in death.

Memorial contributions can be made to Michigan Right to Life, P.O. Box 901, Grand Rapids, MI 49509-0901) or to Pleasant Valley United Brethren Church, where Luella has been a member for many years.

The funeral service was held on Monday, March 6, at Pleasant Valley UB church, 13120 Bell Road (M-50), Lake Odessa, MI 48849. Luella’s full obituary can be read on the website of Girrbach Funeral Home.

Registration is now open for the next Idea to Action symposium. These events, held twice a year, are sponsored jointly by the UB denomination and Huntington University. The cost is free, but you must register. Please register by Sunday, March 19.

Date: Monday, March 27, 2023
Time: 10am to 12:30 pm
Location: Zoom and in-person at Huntington University

The topic is, “The Persevering Minister: Mental Health as a Pathway to Community.” The three presenters are faculty members of the Huntington University Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program.

Go here to register.

The three presenters for the March 2023 Idea to Action (l-r): Dr. Elijah Lee, Dr. Michelle Caulk, Chase McKinney

Phil Fiedler

Philip Arthur Fiedler, 85, of Olive Branch, Miss., passed away January 26, 2023. He and his wife, Carol, served many years as UB missionaries in Sierra Leone–during the 1970s as maintenance superintendent, and later returning to teach at Sierra Leone Bible College in the Freetown area. They, along with nurse Sara Banter, were the last UB missionaries to be evacuated during the country’s civil war of the 1990s. It would be another 15 years before UB missionaries were once again sent to Sierra Leone.

Phil Fiedler was born in 1937 in Columbia City, Ind. He and Carol, who preceded him in death, were married in 1958 and had four children–Glenn, Greg, Galen, and Tanya.

Phil was a faithful believer in Christ, had a lifelong passion to share the Gospel with others, and lived as God’s ambassador to all. He served in many capacities including public schoolteacher, church songleader, Sunday school teacher, and Spanish teacher. He was a faithful member at Longview Heights Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Miss.

The family asks that memorial contributions be made to UB Global. You can donate online at Or send a check to: UB Global, 302 Lake Street, Huntington, IN 46750. Include a note saying your gift is in memory of Phil and Carol Fiedler.

There will be no memorial service at this time, but one will be held perhaps later in 2023. The family would like to express their appreciation to everyone for their prayers and loving support.

Rev. Russ and Nellie Birdsall

Nellie Birdsall passed away Monday, January 16, 2023. She and her late husband, Russ, who passed away in 2021, were United Brethren missionaries in Sierra Leone and Macau, and served ten years in pastoral ministry.

Visitation: 3-7 pm Friday, January 20.
Visitation location: Bailey Love Funeral Home, 35 West Park Drive, Huntington, IN 46750
Funeral: 12pm Saturday, January 21, 2023. Visitation one hour beforehand.
Funeral location: College Park UB church, Huntington, Ind.

Nellie was born in Chambersburg, Pa., in 1931 and grew up there. She and Russ met at Huntington University and were married in 1951. On September 4, 1957, they and their young daughter, Sharon, boarded a ship for Sierra Leone, where they served as UB missionaries for the next 11 years.

In July 1968, the family returned to Huntington at the request of Dr. DeWitt Baker, another former Sierra Leone missionary, so Russ could become dean of students at Huntington University. Nellie was a public schoolteacher in Huntington for 22 years. She held masters degrees in Education and in Counseling from Indiana University-Fort Wayne.

In 1979, Russ and Nellie began ten years serving the New Hope UB church in Huntington, Ind. Between 1994 and 2006, they served seven times in Macau as short-term missionaries, always going at their own expense. They taught in the English Language Program, conducted Bible studies, and provided pastoral care for the other missionaries.

Russ passed away in February 2021. Nellie is survived by their only child, Sharon Cherry, who lives in Huntington with her husband, Kevin.

At the time of her death, Nellie was a member of College Park UB church in Huntington. Preferred memorials are to Huntington University or UB Global, in care of Bailey-Love Mortuary, 35 West Park Drive, Huntington, IN, 46750.

Registration is now open for the 2023 UB Youth Summit.

Dates: April 24-28, 2023 (Begins Monday evening; ends Thursday evening with check-out on Friday)

Location: Aku Tiki Best Western in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla.

The UB Youth Summit is an annual event which averages around 25 persons. It’s a great time of networking with other youth leaders and being encouraged by others who are in the trenches of youth ministry. Enjoy the beach, golf course, and incredibly beautiful weather, along with the chance to slow down and step away from the constant demands of youth ministry.

Go here for more details and to register.