L-r: Tim Sherman (chair), Christine Augustat, Kristi McConnell, Dalton Jenkins, Jeremiah Greenland, Steve Fish.

The Nominating Committee prepares the ballot for bishop and for members of the Executive Leadership Team. The following persons were appointed in July 2020 by the Executive Leadership Team. They will serve 4-year or 6-year terms starting in 2020.

  • Tim Sherman (chairperson) is senior pastor of Bethel UB church (Elmore, Ohio). Term ends: 2026.
  • Christine Augustat is Family Ministry Pastor at Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.). Term ends: 2026.
  • Kristi McConnell, an architect, is a layperson from Banner of Christ UB church (Byron Center, Mich.).
  • Dalton Jenkins is senior pastor of Bethel Temple of Praise (Yonkers, New York). Term ends: 2024.
  • Jeremiah Greenland, vice president of Operations at Susquehanna Civil, Inc., is a layperson from Prince Street UB church (Shippensburg, Pa.). Term ends: 2026.
  • Steve Fish is Teaching Pastor and Director of Missions at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Term ends: 2024.

The Nominating Committee is currently at work preparing ballots for the 2021 US National Conference, which will elect a bishop and four members of the Executive Leadership Team.

Today is the Huntington University Day of Giving. They set a goal of $100,000, which will go toward student scholarships. As of 9:30 am, $38,000 had been given. They keep a real-time running total of the gifts, so you can check throughout the day.

The Day of Giving page includes a map of the United States. The first gift in every state unlocks an additional $300, and that state is turned from gray to Forester green. As of 9:30 am, just six states were green–Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Idaho. The goal is to turn every state green (and claim that $300 for each turned state).

Another 16 states have United Brethren churches. It would be great for all of those states to be green by the end of the day.

Phil and Sandy Whipple

Rev. Phil Whipple, who served as bishop of the US National Conference 2009-2015, passed away around 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 15. He was a victim of Covid-19. Phil was admitted to the hospital on November 2, and never left. He was placed on a ventilator on November 12, and died three days later.

Bishop Todd Fetters came to the United Brethren office in 2013 to fill a new position created by Bishop Whipple, that of Director of National Ministries. They worked closely together for the next two years, and Todd succeeded Phil as bishop in 2015.

“Those of us who served with Phil are saddened by the news of his passing,” said Bishop Fetters. “He gave each of us an opportunity to serve the Lord through the Church of the United Brethren in Christ with our unique gifts, abilities, and personalities. In this sudden loss of our brother and friend, our solace is found in the words of Psalm 116:15, ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones.’ Phil is today where he has always been, ‘in Christ.’”

Phil Whipple was born in 1957 in Illinois, and grew up in the Church of the Nazarene. He cited March 1974 as the date of his conversion.

Phil graduated from Liberty University and later from the Huntington University Graduate School. He began his ministry in 1980 at a non-UB church in Illinois, followed by five years, 1984-1989, pastoring a Wesleyan church in Saranac, Mich.

In 1990 he joined the staff of the Richfield Road UB church in Flint, Mich., as an associate pastor, where he worked under the leadership of senior pastor Lester Smith. A year later, he was assigned as senior pastor of Pleasant Valley UB church in Lake Odessa, Mich, where he served seven years.

In 1998 he began ten years as pastor of Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich. Under Phil’s leadership, the attendance grew from 200 to over 500, and they baptized 130 people. Phil was serving at Colwood when elected bishop in 2009. He succeeded Bishop Ron Ramsey, who served four years in that role.

Some highlights from Bishop Phil Whipple’s six years as bishop:

  • He created the part-time position of Director of Ministerial Licensing, which has greatly improved out efforts in guiding ministers to their next step in the licensing process (Jim Bolich now fills that role).
  • Various “summits” for UB ministers were begun, held in the year between national conferences. Three summits per year, based on church attendance, were held for senior pastors and their spouses. Other summits were organized for associate staff, worship ministers, and youth ministers.
  • He was part of the search process which brought Dr. Sherilyn Emberton to Huntington University as president in 2013.
  • We developed the current logo for the US National Conference.
  • Todd Fetters was hired as Director of National Ministries, a new position (now held by Dr. Mike Dittman).
  • He was part of the 2010 and 2013 General Conferences, in Honduras and Canada respectively.

Phil and his wife, Sandy, were married in 1979, and this past summer celebrated 41 years of marriage. They have two children, Mike and Josh, both of whom serve in ministry. When he was elected bishop in 2009, Josh was worship pastor at Mongul UB church (Shippensburg, Pa.) and Mike was the worship pastor at Colwood.

In 2015, Phil became pastor of Trinity Missionary Church in Yale, Mich. (in the thumb area). Mike Whipple announced his father’s death to the church, writing: “At 6 pm this evening my dad, Pastor Phil, slipped into Jesus’ arms. We were told he left this earth very peacefully, and we were so thankful for that news. Even though this is a time of mourning and we feel this pain deeply, we know Pastor Phil is meeting with Jesus now. What a joy that is. I want to thank you all for your kindness and your support over these last few weeks. You have all showed me what the church is capable of, and I am very grateful to have been able to walk through this with such a loving church body.”

We, too, are grateful that the Whipple family has been surrounded by a loving church family. Let’s join them with our own prayers for Sandy, and for the families of Josh and Mike, as they grieve the loss of a husband, father, and grandfather, while also celebrating a life well lived.

Rev. Robert “Bob” Miller, a United Brethren pastor for over 40 years, passed away on November 12, 2020, in Bryan, Ohio.

Bob was born in New Castle, Pa., in 1933, and went on to graduate from Huntington University in 1955, and from the HU seminary in 1958. He was ordained in 1959. He pastored about eight different churches in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. He also served many years as Michindoh Conference treasurer, and was employed 1976-1990 at Michindoh Ministries Camp and Conference Center. Most recently, he was pastor 1990-1998 of South Scipio UB church in Harlan, Ind.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, there will be a private burial for the family with a memorial service at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Huntington University in Huntington, Ind.

Michelle Harris, associate director of UB Global, leads in prayer for the travelers at the airport in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Ruth Rivera (right) with Dr. Richard and Cathy Toupin.

Ruth packing for the six-week trip to Sierra Leone.

Ruth at work at Mattru Hospital.

On October 29, Ruth Esther Rivera Mejia, a dentist from Honduras, and Dr. Richard Toupin and Cathy Toupin left for Sierra Leone. They will serve at Mattru Hospital for six weeks. We are looking forward to what God will do in and through this team.

They worshiped at the UB church in Bo on Sunday morning, November 1, and arrived in Mattru late that afternoon.

Now these servants–surgeon, nurse, and dentist–are at work bringing healing to people through Mattru Hospital.

The Saopin bridge on the east side of La Ceiba.

Hurricane Eta slammed into Honduras on Tuesday, affecting the northern coast where dozens of United Brethren churches are located. Roger and Marilyn Reeck are Wycliffe missionaries in Honduras, and their daughter Christi and her husband, Rigo, are UB endorsed missionaries with Commission to Every Nation. They live in La Ceiba, located on the north coast, but all are currently in San Antonio, Texas, where the Reecks have been since the pandemic began. Marilyn sent this note:

Our daughter, Christy, and her family arrived in San Antonio from Honduras last night. From their house to the International airport, they travel four hours. Predicting the flooding that would take place due to Hurricane Eta, they left home a day early. They drove through several towns along the route that were already flooded from the heavy rains. Praise God they made it to the airport, and the plane did fly.

But, the reports we have received today are of major flooding, landslides, damage, and destruction. The hurricane has now diminished to a tropical storm. La Ceiba, where we have lived for many years, runs east-west with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. A section of the bridge we must cross over to get into town on the east side has collapsed. The two bridges leading out of town on the west side are damaged also and deemed unsafe.

There is major flooding, and bridges are out on the whole northern coast of Honduras and part of Nicaragua. This all brings back memories of Hurricane Mitch that happened 22 years ago on the same date.

Please pray that the necessary relief, food, etc. will arrive for the people who have suffered so much already from the strict lockdowns due to the pandemic.

Our plans are to return to Honduras in another three weeks.

L-r: Coach Kevin Marshall, Calvary member Jeff Frazier, Athletic Director Gabe Rodriguez, and Pastor Ted Doolittle.

Ted Doolittle, senior pastor, Calvary Community Church

One of the “Be the Church” projects of Calvary Community Church (Saginaw, Mich.) was collecting water for the Bridgeport Public Schools. While most students are doing virtual school online in our school district, we learned that there are a total of 445 in-person students in the school district.

Drinking fountains are closed due to Covid-19, so our Leadership Team challenged the church to bring in water bottles so that schools could make every Wednesday in October “Water Wednesday” courtesy of Calvary. We set a goal of 1,780 bottles, but we surpassed that goal in two weeks by receiving 2,148! The schools were delighted when we delivered them.

While we have not been doing indoor worship yet, the church is not closed! The motto is: “While we can’t GO to church, we will continue to BE the church!” In addition to the water project, the church has continued to distribute more than ninety boxes of food each month to needy families in our community through our bi-monthly Outreach Ministry. More projects are planned.

A record 25 people, including four men from Jamaica, attended the September 28-29 UB History course. The course, which is a requirement for ministerial licensing, was taught via Zoom. Bob Bruce, formerly a fulltime staffer at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.), led the course. Cathy Reich, administrative assistant to the bishop, tended to the technical and administrative aspects of the event.

The Covid crisis has led to some unexpected discoveries. One is that face-to-face meetings are not always necessary. Various denominational groups, including the Executive Leadership Team and the UB Global board, have been holding meetings online. In the process, money is saved on travel, food and lodging, and members don’t spend many hours traveling back and forth.

The UB History Course is another example. The in-person course scheduled last spring was hastily converted to a Zoom course, and it went surprisingly well. So when another session was scheduled for September, it was designed from the start as a Zoom class.

Of the 25 students, all but two were taking the course for licensing. They included one person from Canada, four from Jamaica, and 20 from the United States. The latter included persons participating from Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. There were 7 women and 18 men.

The format also allowed for guests to pop in and talk about an aspect of the denomination. They included Bishop Todd Fetters, Frank Y (acting director of UB Global), Jim Bolich (director of Ministerial Licensing), Steve Dennie (Communications director), Dr. Sherilyn Emberton (president of Huntington University), and Dr. Anthony Blair (president of Evangelical Seminary).

Dr. Carl Zurcher

Dr. Carl Zurcher, professor emeritus of speech, beloved teacher, and theatre director to hundreds of Huntington University students, passed to his eternal reward on September 11, 2020. He taught at Huntington University for 39 years, starting in 1950.

Born on a farm near Berne, Indiana, to Fred F. and Martha (Valentine) Zurcher, Carl graduated as valedictorian from Geneva High School. He began his college education at Huntington University (then College) in 1942 but was interrupted by World War II, where he served with the 104th Infantry (Timberwolf) Division in Holland, France. Returning to HU after the war, he began dating Mabel (Alpaugh) Thompson his senior year and graduated with a degree in speech and history in 1948. He taught at Huntington Township High School for a year and completed a master’s degree at Northwestern University.

In 1950, a position opened in the Speech Department at HU, and Zurcher stated that he “was flattered to be invited to teach at his alma mater.” He accepted the position and began a lifelong devotion to Huntington University, where he taught for 39 years. After completing his first year of teaching at Huntington he married Mabel Thompson in 1951, a marriage of mutual devotion that lasted until her death in 2018. The Zurchers have two daughters, Beverly Ann (Dan) Brauchler and Carla Jeanne Zurcher, both Huntington alumni.

Among the many positions and chairmanships Zurcher held at the institution was his service as registrar from 1953 to 1964 and chair of the Division of Humanities and Bible from 1965 until his retirement. Zurcher was one of the principle faculty members who worked tenaciously for national accreditation in 1961. Zurcher often cited this as one of the highlights of his service to Huntington University. One of the leading members of the faculty, he was always spoken of highly by his colleagues. Dr. Gerald Smith described him as “teacher … exemplar” and “persuasive” in faculty meetings. Dr. William Hasker states, “He was there with a lot of wisdom and judgement, and he would always take the time to work through the problem.”

The impact he had on students was immeasurable. Many have commented on his excellent abilities in teaching and directing, but most of his former students have reflected on the impact this humble Christian gentleman had on their lives. Phrases such as “elegance of wisdom and patience,” “cherished his counsel always and his friendship,” “unconditional love and integrity,” and “taught me my work ethic and my high standards” are just a few of the accolades of those former students who looked up to Dr. “Z” as a mentor and friend. Perhaps former Vice President for University Relations John Paff said it best…“Oh, what a true Christian gentleman! He embodied the values and virtues of Huntington College, modeling ‘Christ, Scholarship, and Service’ to generations of HC and HU students.”

During his years at Huntington University, Dr. Zurcher was recognized many times for his talent and contribution. He was elected four times by the student body as Professor of the Year, received the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1974, was awarded a Centennial Medallion in 1996 and received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1989. In 2005, the University further paid tribute to Dr. Zurcher by naming the auditorium in the Merillat Centre for the Arts in his honor.

Dr. Carl Zurcher’s life and work can best be summed up with the verses from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”