Stellar Kart performing on the Red Stage

People of all ages…and a hot air balloon!

Headliner BarlowGirl

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

Huntington University kicked off its first Fandana Music Festival on Thursday, August 11. They gave me a press pass, so around 5 pm I headed over to the campus to catch some good music.

Fandana is a big deal. At least a thousand people would be attending. I heard thoughts of maybe 3000 people coming before it was all over. Hard to tell with a first-time thing like this. But the college seemed ready, with volunteers everywhere, places roped off, plentiful signs, and all kinds of little extras. This took a healthy dose of planning to put together. And there’s still time to come for the big Friday night finale with Todd Agnew, Superchick, Attaboy, and Switchfoot!

After getting my pass in the Merillat Physical Education Complex, I traipsed over to the Fine Arts building, where bands had been performing in the main auditorium–the Orange stage–since 4 pm.

Reilly

I heard Reilly, a five-member band from Philadelphia, that I just loved. The show opened with two members–husband and wife–coming onto the stage playing “All the Lonely People” on violins. The girl played violin during most of the songs, and a little keyboard. The guy mostly played lead guitar, but occasionally would sling it onto his back and go play some mean violin with his wife. I tell you, it was a beautiful sound! I’ve never heard a rock band combine violins so effectively. Plus, they gave a solid, but brief, presentation of the gospel. (I should mention their incredible version of “For What It’s Worth,” the “there’s something happening here” classic from Buffalo Springfield.)

Throughout Reilly’s performance, more and more people trickled in, until the lower section was decently populated, with others in the upper section. Probably a dozen kids stood in front of the stage. I must say, I didn’t care for the dark, foggy atmosphere on stage. I couldn’t see the performers well–way too much shadow, and no spotlights hitting them from the front (that I could see). I don’t know if that mood atmosphere was intentional, or the result of a fog machine gone rogue. But I didn’t care for it (though I realize I’m not the target demographic).

After Reilly came two guys from Nashville who called themselves 33 Miles. I’m sure there’s a story behind the name, but I didn’t hear it. They sat on stools, with one guy singing lead vocals and the other playing acoustic guitar and harmonizing. The crowd loved them. A lot of energy between them, and they connected with the crowd. The guitarist reminded me of Kristian Bush from Sugarland. Their second-to-last song was a nicely-done version of David Crowder’s “How He Loves.”

They finished just before 8 pm. Another group, 77 Times, was scheduled to play next. But at the same time, Stellar Kart was playing out on the Red Stage outside. Nearly everyone cleared out of the auditorium. I decided to hear a few songs from 77 Times before leaving. But after 1 song, I realized they weren’t quite my cup of tea, so I headed out.

Ashley Smith, who works in the university media relations, gave me a ride in an electric cart out to the Red Stage, which was set up on a field along Route 24, a field sometimes used for soccer practice. It made a nice, mini-Woodstock venue. As Stellar Kart jammed (they were my kind of band!), people sat on blankets or in chairs they had brought, while others threw frisbee rings. There was a hot air balloon, and a long line of people at a cart selling coffee products–coffee, tea, mocha, latte, and smoothies. There were a lot of younger kids with parents. A good-sized crowd stood in front of the stage listening to the band. A big screen to the side showed the performers in large.

Stellar Kart did two Disney songs in kind of a rock/grunge style (I’m not good at differentiating contemporary music styles). One was “Kiss the Girl,” from The Little Mermaid, followed by “A Whole New World.” I could imagine Foo Fighters doing those songs, though I could understand all of the words. (Thanks for enunciating!)

After Stellar Kart finished, there was a ten-minute lull during which headliner BarlowGirl got set up. The big screen was filled with scenes from Huntington University–students, profs, athletics, classes, etc. Good marketing opp.

I’d never heard BarlowGirl before, though I know they’ve come through Fort Wayne. I was quite impressed. They rocked the place, that’s for sure. Three girls, and a guy on drums, for the first couple songs. Then the lead singer switched to drums, the bass guitarist moved over to lead vocals along with some keyboard, and the drummer took bass. I liked them a lot.

BarlowGirl started playing at 9 sharp, right on time. I stayed for about a half hour before deciding I needed to leave. But I left excited about what Huntington University was pulling off. And with anticipation to coming back the next day, when the REALLY big crowds were expected. Bands would play on the Orange Stage all day, beginning at 9 am. Then at night would come the headliners. Yes, this 54-year-old with one bad ear is looking forward to it.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

Since the start of the US National Conference a little over a week ago, the United Brethren Facebook page has gained 75 followers–or more technically, “likes.”

The number of “likes,” as of July 15, stands at 573. So we pretty much obliterated the 500 barrier. A 15% increase in one week.

I posted several hundred photos from National Conference last week. Posting photos, I’ve found, always draws new people to your Facebook page. I’ve seen that with the Facebook page for my own church, Anchor Community Church. I frequently post photos that I’ve taken at Anchor events. When you “tag” someone in a photo–that is, when you identify a Facebook member in a photo–then that photo appears on their own Facebook wall. That makes it visible to all of their friends.

In Anchor’s case, the people who “like” Anchor’s page average 300 Facebook friends of their own. Most of those friends have probably never been to the Anchor page. But when they see a photo of their friend or relative, they click on on it, and suddenly there they are, on Anchor’s page. Some of them, then, tag people in photos who may be on their own Facebook friend list, but who may not be on Anchor’s “like” list…yet. Then those photos appear on other people’s walls, visible to a whole new set of friends–a second degree of separation, if you will.

One or two degrees of separation quickly adds up.  If Anchor’s page has 300 friends, and each of those persons have 300 friends (and that’s the actual average–I checked a while back), you’re talking 90,000 people…each of whom have 300 friends. Sure, lots and lots of duplication. But still.

That no doubt explains the surge in “likes” for the UB page. I’ve tagged United Brethren people in many of the photos. So, for instance, when UB persons see a photo of their pastor at the conference, they click on the photo to see what it’s about, and find themselves on the United Brethren page. And they think, “I didn’t realize there was a United Brethren Facebook page.” They click the “like” button…and there you have it, 75 new people added just because I posted some photos.

Ah, the power of Facebook!

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

Facebook has reached critical mass–over 600 million users worldwide. Lots of people in your church probably use Facebook–far more than you realize. Which begs the question: so what?

Email long ago reached critical mass. If someone was connected to the internet, they probably had an email address. So it made sense to create church email lists as a way to contact people.

Now you should consider adding Facebook to the mix. Your people are already using Facebook–young and old alike. It’s just a matter of going where they already go.

My own church, Anchor Community Church, has been using Facebook for nearly four years. We’ve had our own Facebook Page for two years (a growing number of UB churches have their own Page). Anchor has an attendance of about 130, but have 312 people who “like” our page. We don’t actively promote it. We don’t encourage people to create a Facebook account and come “like” our page. It has just blossomed naturally.

But for me, the benefits of Facebook have little to do with the church page itself. Rather, it’s about people interacting outside of church. Facebook helps promote community, even if it’s only in superficial ways (and on Facebook, there is an abundance of superficial). People who may seldom talk to each other at church may connect regularly on Facebook.

As a layperson at Anchor, I learn a great deal about my fellow Anchorites from Facebook. By reading people’s status messages–things they write which tell something about what’s happening in their life or what they’re thinking about at the moment–I catch numerous glimpses into their life. And that gives me opportunity to interact with them on Facebook and at church.

I learn when people are sick or in the hospital, and how they’re doing as the days pass. I learn about financial hardships, relationship problems, new births, jobs lost and jobs found, myriad concerns, car problems…you name it. I can then respond directly on Facebook, giving encouragement or congratulations or whatever is appropriate.

I learn about hobbies, extended family, favorite sports teams, books they’re reading, TV shows and movies they’re watching, vacation plans, and much more. I can then use this information to strike up a conversation at church, perhaps with someone I don’t know well. Or I can simply comment right on Facebook.

When someone misses church, I send them a note on Facebook saying that I missed them. I compliment people for this and that. Other Anchor people do the same. It’s neat.

When we have special events, I take lots of photos. I post them on the Anchor Facebook page. This draws not only people from the church, but their friends and relatives and distant acquaintances.

And I’m only touching the surface of what you can do with Facebook. Like plugging upcoming events.

It’s not something we officially promote or encourage. It just happens. You don’t see this kind of thing happening with email, Twitter, a church website, or most anything else (young people avoid email, and older people, me included, don’t care to learn all the insider terminology and techniques of Twitter).

With Facebook, you don’t need to goad people into signing up for something new. They’re already signed up. Just go join the conversation.

United Brethren churches do a lot of special things during the Christmas season. What did your church do special? Other UB churches would be interested in hearing about it.

While the Christmas season is still fresh in your mind, write up a little description about any special events, services, activities, etc. at your church.

Type in your information and send it. You can even attach digital photos. We’ll get it posted on UBCentral.org so others can read about it.

We continually increase the number of people who receive UB information electronically. Here are the latest numbers.

Facebook: 411 people now “Like” the United Brethren page. We add new persons every week. A little over a year ago, we started at zero. Last March, the number was 230.

Feedburner: 200 subscribers. Feedburner is the best way to keep current with UB news, since the news comes to your email every day. Subscribe here.

Connect Email: 1242 subscribers. This is an occasional e-letter containing UB news and information. Subscribe here.

WAVES: 277 subscribers. This is a fairly new quarterly email from the Women’s Ministry Leadership Team. It’s designed as a resource for women. The second edition went out a few days ago. Subscribe here.

On April 12, former bishop Ron Ramsey began a new role as a member of the staff at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.). He stopped by the Healthy Ministry Resources office to mention some of his responsibilities from what he describes as a still-evolving job description.

  • Lead some portion of the worship service periodically–announcements, prayer, etc. Talk to people at altar.
  • Preach a couple times a year.
  • Teach GROW Discipleship classes. He’s been substituting for GROW teachers, but in the fall will probably start his own class.
  • Do pastoral care: contact visitors and regular members, some hospital visitation, a little counseling.
  • Participate in a mission trip at least once every two years (a requirement of all Emmanuel staff).
  • Make contacts with cluster leaders. Senior pastor Denny Miller works one day a week as the denominational Cluster Coordinator. Bishop Ramsey says, “I’m really excited that I’ll work with Denny to contact cluster leaders. Bishop C. Ray Miller has been given half the list, I’ve been given half the list. We’ll call the cluster leader once a month and see how things are going, what’s happening in their lives, areas we can serve, needs they have, etc.”

Since leaving the bishop’s office last August, Ron has been speaking frequently in UB churches. He will remain free to do that occasionally.

I finally finished uploading all of my General Conference photos to Flickr. Well, not ALL of them. I weeded out a good number of poor shots. But that still left 968. I divided them into 13 sets. Click on the link, and you can view any of the sets on Flickr. I did some minor processing (cropping and lightening) on nearly all of these photos.

Saturday, January 10
Saturday. Traveling to Honduras, the San Pedro Airport, the road trip to La Ceiba, getting checked in at the hotel, and eating at Pizza Hut.

Sunday, January 11
Sunday Morning. The morning breakfast and service.
Sunday Afternoon – Children. The opening of the service, with the children singing the various national anthems.
Sunday – Bethel Band. The band performing during the service.
Sunday – Singing. The congregation singing during the opening service.
Sunday – Pastors. The stationing of pastors.
Sunday – Miscellaneous. A variety of other shots from the Sunday afternoon service.

Monday, January 11
Monday Business. Monday morning and early afternoon.
Monday – Camp. Visiting the Honduras Conference campground.

Tuesday, January 12
Tuesday Business. Tuesday morning and afternoon.
Tuesday Night. The evening service.

Wednesday, January 13
Wednesday Business. Wednesday morning and afternoon.
Wednesday Night. The concluding service on Wednesday night, and praying with Oliam Richard.

We’re using a variety of ways to communicate via the internet, and people are taking advantage of them. Here’s a summary:

  • 1220 people worldwide have joined the UB news email list. We average 2-3 emails a month, only sending them as needed (rather than on a set schedule).
  • 230 people are now fans of the United Brethren Facebook page (up from nothing a few months ago).
  • 92 people are following the United Brethren Twitter feed.
  • 59 people are using Feedburner, a nifty service from Google which sends a daily email of everything posted to UBCentral.
  • 2900+ people are fans of the Huntington University Facebook page.
  • 369 people receive the monthly Huntington University Prayer Ministry email. This comes from the office of Bishop Emeritus Paul Hirschy, who says, “I would like to see it top 500.”

Titus Boggs, director of the Laurel Mission in Big Laurel, Kent., is famous for his annual Groundhog Day Letter. At least, famous among those of us who receive it.

Yesterday, I received #19 in the series. As usual, it contained a batch of delightfully corny jokes which I’d never heard before. It seems that some of the world’s best humor makes its way to the hollows of Big Laurel and stops there, until Titus releases it back to the world via his Groundhog Day Letter.

For example:

  • The other night I left the window open and influenza.
  • Do you know the difference beween Bird flu and Swine Flu? For bird flu, you need tweetment, and for swine flu you need oinkment.
  • Did you hear about the man who watered just half of his lawn since there was a 50% chance of rain?
  • I heard of a preacher who named his bed “the word” and his boat “visitation.” His wife then could answer the phone calls, “He’s in the word,” or “He’s out on visitation.”
  • I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Two cannibals were eating a clown. One cannibal said to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

Along with the frivolity, Titus reported that several people prayed to receive Christ this year at Laurel Mission. He noted of his six children, “They are good workers and helpers, and they each love Jesus.” He gave these updates on his family.

  • Titus and his wife, Debbie, have now been ministering at Laurel Mission for 30 years.
  • Nathan, 25, works at United Central, a coal mine supply company. He is also the mission’s youth pastor and leads an active group of teens weekly. “No challenge seems too big for Nathan.”
  • Hannah, 22, lives and works at a high school in Vancleve, Kent., and also works part-time as a state social worker. In October, she spent ten days in Israel.
  • Stephanie, 19, will complete high school in May and plans to attend Kentucky Mountain Bible College next fall. In January, she spent seven days in Jamaica on a mission trip.
  • Erica, 17, loves gardening and animals, and is determined to serve her country in the Army.
  • Lacy, 16, is the extrovert and is able to express herself very well.
  • Taylor, 15, is the youngest, but the tallest, and she loves to do artwork.

Titus concluded his letter with this: “May the Son shine on you so that you cast a long shadow of influence every time you venture from your den.”

saxplayers500

I’ve written about the Bethel Band a number of times over the years, going back to the 1980s, when missionary Archie Cameron led it. The band is part of the Bethel Institute, a large school operated by our Honduras Conference.

The Bethel Band has won many honors over the years. They won a competition as the best band in Central America.

But I had never heard the Bethel Band perform. I heard them practice one time, when I was in Honduras writing Tio Archie (one chapter is devoted to the Bethel Band). But I’d not seen them perform.

Until a couple weeks ago, when I was in Honduras for General Conference.

David Raudales, director of the Bethel Band, played in worship teams throughout the week of General Conference.

David Raudales, director of the Bethel Band, played in worship teams throughout the week of General Conference.

During the opening service on Sunday, January 10, the Bethel Band marched to the front of the gymnasium and played two numbers for us. They were extraordinary. Just blew me away.

I was sitting on the front row when they lined up, the saxophone players right in front of me. When the music started, the sax players began stepping toward me, and I thought they were going to run me over.

I knew they’d be good musically. I was not expecting all of the movement. I mean, they MOVED. I particularly enjoyed watching the three guys whirling around with their bass drums.

So much music, so much sound, so much movement, so many instruments. And the thing is–they were at half-strength. School was not in session at that time of year, but director David Raudales still managed to round up 50 of his 100 band members for a voluntary performance.

David is the son of Francisco Raudales, the former Honduras Conference superintendent. Francisco grew up playing in the band and later directed it, before passing the baton to his son.

David hopes to expand the band’s size to 150 members. The limitation is instruments. They’ll gladly take that trumpet or flute collecting dust in your attic. Why not send it to Global Ministries, so we can put it in the hands of a young Honduran? Give an opportunity to a kid who would just love to make music with Central America’s premier band.

In September, the Bethel Band will travel to Guatemala for another big competition. About 50 Guatemalan bands will compete against each other, and the winner will then go against a dozen or so bands from other countries. Bethel has won this competition in the past. After what I heard that Sunday in La Ceiba, I can’t imagine that they won’t be winning it again in the years ahead.

Enjoy these photos of the Bethel Band performing at General Conference.