United Brethren churches do a lot of special things during the Christmas season.

While the Christmas season is still fresh in your mind, write up a little description about any special ministries, programs, events, services, activities, etc. at your church. We’ll get it posted on UBCentral.org. Other United Brethren will enjoy hearing about it.

If you have digital photos, you can attach them at the end, or just email them to steve@ub.org.

We even have a form you can use (click the button below) to send your report and any photos. Or, you can email a report directly to Steve Dennie.

L-r: Joe Abu, Marshall Woods, and Bishop John Pessima.

L-r: Joe Abu, Marshall Woods, and Bishop John Pessima.

Pastors and spouses from the Cumberland cluster at their Christmas dinner.

Pastors and spouses from the Cumberland cluster at their Christmas dinner.

Mill Chapel (Reedsville, W. Va.) was honored by a visit from Rev. John Pessima, bishop of sierra Leone Conference, and by Rev. Joe Abu, a United Brethren pastor in Philadelphia. On November 27, Bishop Pessima shared a slide presentation to inform the congregation about what God was doing in his country.

Rev. Marshall Woods, pastor of Mill Chapel, leads the Cumberland cluster. On December 6, the pastors in the cluster and their wives met for a Christmas dinner, which Marshall and Gloria Woods arranged at the Penn Alps Restaurant. They presented a gift to each pastor and spouse.


Matt McKeown (right), a pastor at First UB church in Holly Hill, Fla., sent a report about Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath. This came on Friday afternoon, October 14.

The church property—various buildings, thrift store, recording studio—suffered $40,000 – $50,000 worth of damage. “Several parts of our church roof will need to be repaired or replaced, as we’ve got about 30 leaks in it right now.”

Tree removal was be a major expense. “Hurricane insurance does not cover the removal of downed trees. We’ve got a dozen or so of those. Removal of one tree can be up to $2000, especially these big Southern yellow pines that are 100 feet tall.

“We just bought a building to expand our recording studio, and one of the selling points was the big lighted sign at the roadside. It was destroyed by the hurricane, and it is not covered by insurance….

“It’s a bit of a racket, honestly. The premiums are so large for hurricane insurance that most people can’t even afford to have wind damage insurance on their buildings. Plus, if the wind blows the roof off of your building, and the rain destroys your property, your hurricane insurance does not cover the damage from the rain because you lost your roof. It only covers the replacement of your roof. But even then, the deductibles are so high there’s no point in making a claim.

“I can also tell you that most all of our congregation was without power for almost a week. One couple in our church had a giant oak tree fall directly in the middle of their house, splitting it in two.”

On October 7, as the storm moved on, Matt posted on Facebook, “All in all we fared very well, and if not for the last minute turn of the storm to the east, we would be in many feet of water now and much more wind damage.”

Gary Vanderveen, pastor of Faith UB church in nearby Port Orange, Fla., reports that they came through the hurricane very well, with only minor cleanup needed.

The Pastors and Spouses Summit for churches with 300+ attendance is scheduled for October 24-27 in Daytona Beach. The location had to be moved because of damage to the original hotel. However, everything is working out. They’ll be able to meet at an even nicer hotel which is closer to First UB church. Pastor Chuck and Vicki McKeown of First UB are among the persons who will attend this event.

If you would like to help First UB church, please contact Matt McKeown by email, or send donations to:

First UB Church (Daytona)
560 Flomich Street
Holly Hill, FL 32117

Jim Bolich, senior pastor, Prince Street UB church (Shippensburg, Pa.)

Prince Street Church and Living Stone Church in Macau practiced unity amidst diversity by participating in Holy Communion together on October 2, bridging the distance with live streaming for World Communion Sunday.

In November 2015, I participated in a Global Ministries trip to Macau, where a friendship with Jennifer Blandin and Living Stone Church quickly formed. Since then, friendship has grown into collaboration, paving the way for the congregations to come together around the Lord’s Table. Portions of the service were held in Cantonese, Portuguese, and English.

The eye of Hurricane Matthew is expected to be over Holly Hill, Fla., on Friday. We have a church there, First United Brethren Church, located not far from the Atlantic Ocean. On Thursday morning, Pastor Matt McKeown (right) was asked about what they are doing as the hurricane approaches. Matt’s father, Chuck, and brother, Josh, are also on staff at the church. Here is Matt’s response.

We are not leaving. We don’t feel we have the right or privilege to do so. We as pastors and as a ministry family need to be here to help when the storm goes through. We are keenly aware that we could lose everything and we are reminded of Job: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I’ve not been a part of a storm this powerful hitting us this directly. The closest thing to it in my experience was in 2004 when three named storms hit us back to back beginning with Hurricane Charlie. People were without power for a couple weeks.

The damage will be big, to people’s property and spirits. Tensions and tempers will run high. Supplies are already low, and October is still too early in Florida to be without air conditioning. Who knows but the Mighty One of Israel how bad it will be. We will be there for the hurting and the hungry, and we will rebuild what is damaged. We will adjust. We will survive. God’s people always do.

Some of us have been gathering to study and pray the prayers in the siddur (the Jewish prayer book) in the mornings as men, and it was pointed out that we pray “You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall” every day. This great power coming toward us is nothing compared to the power of our God. Neither is it anything that cannot be stilled by the words of our Savior.

God created these powerful systems. He is great and mighty to save. The same power that can cause the winds to blow is the same power that will strengthen us as we pick up the pieces. It is times like this when we have the opportunity to make our actions match our faith. May we and all believers be Christ to the ones in need of help in our areas as this storm does whatever it will do. Pray that we will be a light in the coming darkness.

We also have a church in Port Orange, not far to the south and also on the coast. The pastor of Faith UB church is Gary Vanderveen.

Please keep pastors Chuck, Matt, Josh, and Gary in your prayers–not only as the hurricane hits Thursday night and Friday, but for many days afterwards as they pick up the pieces and minister to people in need.

The 2016 Hillsdale outdoor service at the Michindoh Camp and Conference Center.

The 2016 Hillsdale outdoor service at the Michindoh Camp and Conference Center.

Pastor Les Smith (left) and his son Eric, an ordained Wesleyan pastor, baptize Les's grandson Titus Eisenmann.

Pastor Les Smith (left) and his son-in-law Eric, an ordained Wesleyan pastor, baptize Les’s grandson Titus Eisenmann.

The Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.) is 112 years old. They held their 18th annual outdoor service at Michindoh Conference Center on Sunday, August 28. There were over 600 in attendance and 90 more at the earlier indoor service at the church. The 715 total attendance is a new record for a non-Easter Sunday.

Both services included a visit from the “Apostle John” portrayed by Pastor Les Smith. The platform became the Island of Patmos as the first five chapters of the book of Revelation were dramatized.

The outdoor service continued with the crowd walking down the path to Lake Weatherwood for a baptismal service. On July 14, 1935, there were 19 people baptized in a single day at the church. It was a record that stood for over 80 years, but was eclipsed by the 20 who were baptized at Michindoh on August 28.

Afterwards, 625 were served a picnic meal at the Pavilion. The majority also took advantage of the water recreation later that afternoon.

Andy Bashore, with wife Stacey, receiving a local conference license from Lancaster UB church. Senior pastor Greg Voight is on the far right.

Andy Bashore, with wife Stacey, receiving a local conference license from Lancaster UB church. Senior pastor Greg Voight is on the far right.

The Lancaster United Brethren Church (Lancaster, Ohio), recently awarded a local conference license to Mr. Andy Bashore. Andy is presently an elder and trustee, and he and his wife, Stacey, have just taken on the new role as youth directors. Andy will serve the congregation as an associate pastor under Senior Pastor Greg Voight.

The group from Mount Pleasant.

The group from Mount Pleasant.

A VBS session.

A VBS session.

At the River of Life UB church in Mexico.

At the River of Life UB church in Mexico.

Bobby Culler, youth pastor, Mount Pleasant Church (Chambersburg, Pa.)

On July 8, 2016, a team of 16 people from Mt. Pleasant Church began what they hope to be a multi-year partnership with River of Life UB church in the beautiful city of Queretaro, Mexico. We were accompanied by Denis Casco, bishop of Mexico Conference, and his wife, Reina.

With the help of Bishop Casco, contacts were made, friendships were formed, and ministry began. We believe we accomplished all of the three-fold purpose of this partnership:

  1. To help the River of Life church have positive and sustainable impact in the lives of the people in their community.
  2. To encourage, train, and equip the leaders of this church and the surrounding United Brethren churches
  3. To build lifelong relationships with the people of this church and community.

We hosted a week of vacation Bible school and throughout the week we saw a drastic increase in attendance. But more than that, we saw lives change and we saw people come to church who had never been there before. We heard community people say that they’ve never seen anything like this before—a church full and alive with excitement for Christ.

We also hosted two leader training sessions, both of which were attended by 15-16 people from two different United Brethren churches. We’re excited about equipping these leaders to be more effective in the ministry that they provide.

We also spent some time in a city park playing bubbles and kicking soccer balls with children. We shared with them the story of the Gospel colors, gave them the ball, and encouraged them to share that story with their friends and family.

We are grateful for what God has started and for the people that we had the chance to talk with and minister to. Based on how difficult it was to say goodbye, I believe that we established some strong friendships with these precious people.

We’re thankful for the opportunity God has given us to begin this partnership, and we encourage other UB churches in the United States to consider doing the same thing. There are over 40 United Brethren churches and preaching points in Mexico. All of them are eager to partner with other, more established and healthy United Brethren churches.

Although we just returned, all of us are anxious to go back and to continue the good work that the Lord has begun. And with God’s help and involvement, great things will be done for the Kingdom worldwide.

Bishop Todd Fetters (right) leads the installation service for Amos and Annalee Rawley.

Bishop Todd Fetters (right) leads the installation service for Amos and Annalee Rawley.

Ray Seilhamer preaching for the last time as senior pastor of New Hope Church.

Ray Seilhamer preaching for the last time as senior pastor of New Hope Church.

The packed Family Life Center on July 24, 2016.

The packed Family Life Center on July 24, 2016.

Amos Rawley has been appointed senior pastor of New Hope UB church (Huntington, Ind.) effective January 25, 2016. He had been associate pastor of New Hope since July 2015, and served a year as youth pastor, 2009-2010, while attending Huntington University. Amos grew up in the Otterbein UB church of Greencastle, Pa. His parents, Rev. David and Cindy Rawley, have served Otterbein since 1985.

On July 24, 2016, New Hope Church held a special service in its packed Family Life Center. This was the final service for Ray and Ruth Seilhamer, who had served New Hope for the last 12 years. They will move this week to Chambersburg, Pa., to begin serving a two-year interim pastorate at Mount Pleasant UB church, effective August 1. Chris Little, who had been senior pastor of Mount Pleasant since 2001, died suddenly on April 19, 2016, at age 51.

Bishop Emeritus Seilhamer became senior pastor of New Hope in 2004. In 2010, the congregation dedicated a 13,000 square-foot Family Life Center which includes a multi-purpose gymnasium, where the congregation now holds worship services, plus a kitchen, large foyer, and other rooms. The total cost was $980,000. The congregation raised over $300,000; outside investors pitched in $490,000, and various fundraisers brought in the rest. During the July 25 service, New Hope celebrated by burning the mortgage.

Bishop Todd Fetters led an installation service for Amos and Annalee Rawley. David Rawley was among those participating in the laying on of hands.

Amos graduated from Huntington University in 2010, and went on to earn a Master of Divinity in 2015 from Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, Pa. Annalee, whom he married in 2011, also graduated in 2015 from Evangelical Seminary, but with a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Huntington University and has been involved with two local counseling centers.


Lester Smith, senior pastor, Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.)

With all the fear and confusion going on in our nation presently, the Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.) is being intentional about praying for revival to sweep our land.

On July 3, the congregation concluded both services with a Call2Fall. Nearly 400 people at the church cried out to the Lord on their knees for our nation on Independence Day weekend. Many tears were shed by men and women at the front prayer altar, while others knelt at their seats.

We joined hundreds of churches in all 50 states in spending five minutes in prayer on our knees at the end of our worship. More information on this national prayer movement can be found on the website Call2Fall.com.

The Hillsdale congregation is also participating in the Hillsdale County Revival Prayer Gathering on July 26 at Davis Middle School. Many area churches are coming together to pray for revival in our own community.

The church is also planning to travel to our State Capitol in Lansing on October 4 for the Franklin Graham Decision America 2016 Tour. This Prayer Revival for our nation has already visited over 30 state capitols with thousands attending each one.