Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I was in Michigan this past weekend attending their Mid-Year Conference. They announced a cooperative effort between Sunfield UB and a neighboring Weslyan Church to plant a new church in Portland, Mich. The church planting pastor, Ed Love, was introduced to the conference. In this plant, both churches will suppy resources and people to begin a successful church in Portland.
Will it be a United Brethren or a Weslyan Church after it is planted? Who knows! Most likely it will be Weslyan. But this is the type of Kingdom-view thinking that we must begin to develop. The Kingdom is bigger and greater than the UB and cooperative efforts with other like-minded churches is essential for seeing the Kingdom advanced. Partnering with other groups/churches/denominations that also are interested in advancing the KIngdom is essential.
Kudos to Sunfield, Pastor Mark Ralph, and the Michigan Conference for leading the way in this for our denomination. Let us all pray for this new work, that God would use it to bring many to a saving knowledge of His Son! “…thy Kingdom come…” Amen!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
Paul HirschySeveral people have asked me how Paul Hirschy is doing. I am happy to report that Paul is doing fine and in fact has a new position with Huntington University. Effective February 1, 2006, Paul was appointed as a development officer at Huntington University. Paul will travel in the tri-state area meeting with alumni and friends to share the Huntington University story.
I met with Paul just this noon for lunch and we discussed his new position as well as his health. He is excited about this new opportunity to use his many skills with the University. Health-wise, he is doing well. As many of you know, Paul has battled cancer for a number of years, including throughout his 2001-2005 term as bishop.
For further details, see the article on the UB news page. Congratulations Paul!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
When was the last time you personally saw an old honest to goodness scalawag sinner come to faith in Christ as a result of your church’s ministry? I ask that question in nearly every church I visit. I get some strange looks! Like, “What is he talking about?”
In Romans 1:16, Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” If you do not see the gospel message pull pagan sinners to Christ, you can lose your confidence in the power of the gospel to do that. You become timid about sharing the gospel, because you fear, “What if God doesn’t or can’t do it this time?”
Could it be that we United Brethren have become closet universalists? That somewhere in the depths of our being, we think it doesn’t really matter if someone accepts Christ, because we’ve lost touch with the idea that there is an eternity of separation from God?
I know what it is like to see someone under conviction so badly that they simply fall to their knees like a sack of potatoes. Brothers and sisters, it is something to behold when God changes a person by the power of the gospel. At Main Street I saw this happen to drug adicts, alcoholics, Hindus, new agers…when Jesus just got hold of individuals and changed their lives. Trinity UB in Fostoria, Ohio, told me recently of a man who was addicted to cocaine and who was instantly and dramatically transformed by God’s Power…and he is now standing firm in Christ!
Do you not only believe that God can do that, but have the confidence that He can do that? When was the last time you saw a scalawag sinner changed into a dynamic follower of Jesus? Are you seeing this happen as a result of your ministry? (If you’ve seen this happen recently, I’d love to hear the story.)
Have you lost your confidence in the power of the gospel? Just thought I’d ask!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
We talk a lot about it, but do we do it? Really, do we really even believe it? Yeah, I’m talking about prayer and fasting. I wonder what could happen if a number of our churches would seriously consider seeking God for a Spiritual Renewal and Harvest by setting aside time for prayer & fasting between now and, say, Easter.
Would you join me in this discipline just one day a week? I’m not a legalist! You can fast one meal or three, you can fast something other than a meal, like TV or ??? You can choose the day and time. But would you join me in this discipline just until Easter? Let’s agree together for a great Spiritual Harvest by Easter.
It has already begun for Trinity UB in Fostoria, Ohio. During 2005, they have seen 46 seekers at their altar and in homes. Not bad for a church of under 100. They won’t be under 100 for long!
By the way, at the office the staff are reading Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest daily devotional each day and then we pray for you. That book has been around for a long time, but it is powerful! If you need a good devotional for 2006, you can’t go wrong with this one. Could be a good resource to prayer and fasting…What do you think?

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I know none of us are anxious to have another church-wide election, but one will be necessary this fall. The purpose of this election will be to vote to change the constitution, thus completing the transition of our denomination that was started at the 2005 National Conference. You will be receiving lots of information about this election later in the year, but I just wanted to apprise you that it is coming.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
It’s interesting how we take things that are biblical and make them a buzzword for a while. Today, spiritual formation is in danger of becoming a buzzword in our church cluture.
When I talk about spiritual formation, I think of Paul’s words about being conformed to the image of God’s son. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers asks, when you look in a mirror, do you see a reflection of Christ?
In our churches, we need people to take on the image of Christ. People who talk like Christ, walk like Christ, live like Christ — and are, in fact, little Christs. (That term “little Christs” is from Martin Luther.) When you hear me talk about spiritual renewal or spiritual tranformation in the church, that’s what I’m talking about. I want to convince people that we need to begin to look like Jesus. The Holy Spirit is in the business of transforming us into the image of Christ…So I ask, how much more do I look like Christ today than I did yesterday? Gets convicting real quick!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop

I have basically “bought in” to the Healthy Church concept that healthy churches grow and it is possible to establish criteria to describe a healthy church. However, I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that the arguments for are so pragmatic.

I recently came across a book written way back in 2002, Discipled Warriors, by Chuck Lawless that is excellent. The sub-title is: “Growing Healthy Churches That Are Equipped For Spiritual Warfare.” In this book Lawless draws the argument that Church Health must be based on a theological foundation and then the principles build from that fundation. I found it to be an encouraging and challenging book. One you might want to add to your growing library of books and material about the Healthy Church.

I for one, will continue to exhort our churches to consider taking necessary steps to becoming healthy congregations. It really doesn’t have anything to do with size. It has everything to do with being obedient to the call of God upon a local church and the fact that the enemy of our soul and the church will do everything he can do to distract us from our mission.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
At the Huntington University trustee meeting last week, Dave Engbrecht, Pastor of Nappanee Missionary Church, was the devotional speaker. One thing he said was very thought provoking: “Whenever memories are greater than your future, you’re writing your last chapter.”
Wow! Does that hit you like it hit me? I have been in some churches that seem to be writing their last chapter. Could it be that it is partly due to living in the past? Our past is something to be celebrated, especially if it is positive, but to try to live there denies the reality of a preferred future. You see, I believe that where God is taking us is always better than where we’ve been. Because God has a preferred future for me that begins with my decisions today.
Memories, I am glad for all my memories. But as good as they have been, I think the memories made in the future will be even better. Maybe one reason we are willing to live with the past is that the future does demand a price to be paid and it is always easier not to pay the price. But the result is to miss the glorious future of tomorrow.
As a church are our memories of the past greater than the future? In some places I think so…In some places they are writing their final chapter. I do not want that to be true of me. Where He is taking me is always better than where I’ve been!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I am praying that in 2006 we will see an unusual HARVEST of new believers. Our primary ministry focus must be outward–reaching lost people with the Good News and seeing them begin their journey to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. If you have some inspiring stories of individuals in your church coming to faith in Jesus, I would love to hear them. How about doing a short video or DVD testimony and sending it to me so it can be shared with others?

We need to regularly and consistently see lost people come to faith, so that our confidence in the Gospel will not be lost. When the 2007 US National Conference meets, I hope to share a large number of testimonies with the conference. So, keep those videos/DVDs coming in. Don’t worry that they are not professional. Just get something recorded and send it in. Oh, by the way, did I mention I wanted you to get the testimonies recorded and sent in? In case you missed it, I do!