The Healthy Ministry Resources office will be closed on Fridays for the rest of the summer.

New hours: 7 a.m. — 5:30 p.m.
Dates: June 16 — August 29.

For many years during the summer, everyone worked an extra half hour Monday-Thursday and then left at 1 p.m. on Friday. But with the high cost of gas, and some of the staffers driving 20-40 miles to reach the office, it didn’t make sense to have people come for a half-day.

So Bishop Ramsey approved trying something different: a four-day work week, with ten-hour days. If you need anything from Healthy Ministry Resources, be sure to call between Monday and Thursday.

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L-r: Nate Perry, Steve Dennie, Josh Greenfield, Heather Umbaugh, Chris Kuntz, Amy Pennington, Ron Ramsey, E. J. Ramsey, Donna Hollopeter, Opal Sherman, Marci Hammel, and Cathy Reich.

The 2009 National Conference will return to Saw Mill Creek Resort, scene of the 2007 US National Conference. The planning committee has met several times during the last nine months. Last weekend, the planning team, plus several other persons who are playing an important role in making it happen, met at Saw Mill Creek to continue planning.

Date: June 4-7, 2009
Location: Huron, Ohio

We’ll follow the same basic schedule as in 2007:

  • Start Thursday night, end Sunday morning.
  • Registration starting at noon on Thursday.
  • Opening service at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Business session all day Friday (last year, it was only Friday morning). This will include election of a new bishop.
  • Workshops on Saturday morning.
  • An exciting missions emphasis on Saturday night (more later).

A call came today regarding non-profit licensing of Microsoft products. The Healthy Ministry Resources office took advantage of this several years ago, buying multiple copies of Microsoft Office for the Mac for about $30 apiece (a huge, huge savings). Learned about it through Chris Moore at Emmanuel Community Church.

But in checking for the Office 2008 version, I learned that Microsoft changed the requirements to, basically, eliminate churches. Their new policy reads:

Religious organizations with a secular community designation may participate in the Microsoft and I CAN software donation programs. A secular designation is defined as an organization separate from the church or religious organization that provides services to people regardless of their religious beliefs and does not propagate a belief in a specific faith. Example: A food bank with nonprofit or charity status that is run by a church, but is a separate and unique organization that provides food and meals to anyone who qualifies for services, regardless of religious beliefs.

The pastor who called today had been told, through CDW, that they do qualify, and he should submit an application (which, ultimately, would need to be approved by Microsoft). I’m skeptical he’ll get approved, but told him to go for it and keep me informed. (I also read on a discussion board somewhere about a church that got non-profit Microsoft licensing through Dell. Whether or not they represented themselves truthfully….)

What’s been your experience? Can you clarify anything here?

The annual meeting of the Michigan United Brethren churches (a hold-over from the previous Michigan Conference) will take place:

  • Date: Saturday, July 19
  • Location: Carson City Christian Camping Center, 5940 S Mt Hope Rd. Carson City, Michigan 48811
  • Time: 9 a.m. to noon, followed by a noon meal.

The event will include:

  • Worship in music
  • A message from Pat Jones, Director of Healthy Church Ministries.
  • A business session, with various reports and elections.
  • Each cluster leader introducing the pastors in their cluster.
  • A chicken barbeque meal at noon ($1.50 per quarter).

Persons interested in the meal should contact Jim Kendall to order the number of quarters of chicken they and their family will need. Contact him by June 30 at (989) 236-5070.
 
Camp sites are available for $10 per night. They include water and electricity ($12 if you have air conditioning). Call Lee Palmer to reserve a spot at (989) 235-6525

Carlson and Naomi Becker

L-r: Naomi Becker, Global Ministries Director Jeff Bleijerveld, Associate Director Donna Hollopeter, and Carlson Becker.

Carlson and Naomi Becker stopped by the Healthy Ministry Resources office today to spend some time with Jeff Bleijerveld and Donna Hollopeter. On May 30, they returned to the States, having completed a three-year term of service in Macau. It’s great to see people, in their retirement years, who can’t sit still when it comes to doing the Lord’s work. 

The Beckers have no immediate plans, except to hang around their home in northern Michigan,  take care of various projects, and spend time with kids and grandkids. They look great, energetic as always.

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To receive a national conference ministerial license, you must complete the UB church history course. That class has been meeting since Monday at Huntington University, and will conclude today. One attendee is Jeff Bleijerveld, our new Director of Global Ministries, who is preparing to transfer his ordination from the Missionary Church USA.

Here are the class members from the photo, left to right (click the image for a larger photo):

  • Marvin Schwartz, senior pastor of New Horizons UB church (Rockford, Ohio) since May 25.
  • Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries.
  • Warrick Fuller, from Devonshire Church (Harrisburg, Pa.). He holds a local church license. (He’s got a blog.)
  • Doug Moyer, youth pastor of Lancaster UB (Lancaster, Ohio).
  • Dustin Staples, youth pastor of Atlantic Avenue UB (Franklin, Pa.).
  • Steve Henry, senior pastor of Victory Heights UB (Franklin, Pa.).
  • Dr. Howard Cherry, the teacher.
  • John Schadle, associate youth pastor at Fowlerville UB (Fowlerville, Mich.).
  • Brad Kittle, currently pastor of Findlay Evangelical Congregational Church (Findlay, Ohio).
  • Thurm Payton, senior pastor of Lighthouse UB (Williamston, Mich.).

Dr. Howard Cherry, who served in the HU Graduate School of Christian Ministries until 1992, has been teaching the course for nearly 20 years.

The denominational Bible quiz finals will be held June 13-15 (Friday through Sunday) at Huntington University. The Saturday night awards banquet starts at 5:30. Churches from three areas will compete:

  • Michigan: Eden UB (Mason, Mich.).
  • Pennsylvania: Salem UB (Chambersburg, Pa.) and Ebenezer UB (Greencastle, Pa.).
  • Central: The Chapel and Bethel (both non-UB churches).

Devonshire Church in Harrisburg, Pa., is the latest United Brethren church to offer a podcast of the weekly sermon. That makes 17 churches doing podcasts. Plenty of great sermonizing there. A number of other UB churches are doing podcasts.

A podcast is simply a sermon you can download from a website and listen to on your computer or on a music player, like an iPod, Zune, They are typically an MP3 file.

At least two churches are doing video podcasts, which means you can watch the sermon: Emmanuel (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Mount Pleasant (Chambersburg, Pa.).

Confronted with the price of gas and a 20-mile daily commute to the office, Jeff Bleijerveld and I thought it made sense to ride together. So today, I picked him up. We both live on the southwest side of Fort Wayne, maybe a mile apart. It was good fellowship, we saved money, and we reduced our carbon footprint.

Seth Godin predicts that in the business world, with the price of fuel, it’ll become more common to hear people, after a meeting, complain, “I came all the way here for this?”

Churches don’t have nearly as many meetings as they once did.

  • Monthly board meetings have become bi-monthly or quarterly.
  • We’ve dispensed with lots of committees that once seemed necessary.
  • We’ve streamlined our church structures. Streamlining is good.

But now, church meetings don’t only take up a person’s time. They also hit the wallet.

  • Every trip Pam and I make to church costs us around $5.
  • Other people drive much, much farther.
  • A single board meeting could involve a collective cost of $50 or more.
  • Since we’re a low-income church, gas hurts.

So whatever awaits us at church, whether a meeting or music practice or a service, needs to be well worth not only the time, but the gas money.

That, of course, should have always been the case. But money has a way of focusing our attention.