L-r: Jeff Eagan (Executive Director of Joy of Living), David Bolich, Hayden and Devon (Prince Street), Jeff Bodziony (pastor of Forward Church), and a member of the Forward Church community (click to enlarge).

L-r: Jeff Eagan (Executive Director of Joy of Living), David Bolich, Hayden and Devon (Prince Street), Jeff Bodziony (pastor of Forward Church), and a member of the Forward Church community (click to enlarge).

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

God has been doing something special in Cleveland, Ohio. At the 2011 US National Conference, Andy Sikora, senior pastor of ReNew Communities (Berea, Ohio) shared his vision for planting a church in Cleveland. At that time, Prince Street Church (Shippensburg, Pa.), which was looking for a way to return to participating in launching new churches, partnering financially with ReNew.

But we wanted to do more than send money. We wanted to send people who would not only help ReNew in their work, but also learn lessons from ReNew that we could apply in Shippensburg.

The following summer, a short-term mission team from Prince Street headed to Cleveland. While there, Andy put us in contact with a fellow church planter named Jeff Bodziony, who was launching a church called Forward Church in the heart of Cleveland. Suddenly, our single partnership reproduced. Since then, multiple teams have partnered with Forward Church, assisting in construction projects and a variety of “street level” ministries.

Meanwhile, a couple from Prince Street named Burt and Tana Hey have been serving as fulltime missionaries at Joy of Living Ministries in Brinkhaven, Ohio. Joy of Living specializes in providing Christian summer camp experiences for inner-city youth, especially in Cleveland–actually, from the very same neighborhood as Forward Church. For years, Prince Street has been sending short-term teams to assist Joy of Living, both with construction and help with their summer camp programs.

During the 2015 US National Conference, God brought all that together in a harmony of ministry that could never be orchestrated by human minds.

Joy of Living brought its staff (including David Bolich, son of Prince Street Pastor Jim Bolich) to the streets of Cleveland to provide a week-long summer camp program for kids in Forward Church’s neighborhood. Prince Street contributed the financial backing necessary for the project as well as a support staff team. In the end, a beautiful picture emerged of what’s possible when God’s people work together for his glory.

doxa-cover300Colwood UB church (Caro, Mich.) has just released a full-length worship album titled “DOXA.” The album has 3 original songs and 7 re-arranged hymns. The music team from Colwood led worship last week during the first two nights of the US National Conference.

Track Listing:

  1. Doctrine & Doxology
  2. For Your Glory
  3. Before the Throne
  4. He will Hold Me Fast
  5. There is a Fountain
  6. Follow
  7.  It is Well
  8. Come Thou Fount
  9. Nothing But the Blood
  10. Doxology

It is available now on iTunes and AmazonMP3. (In iTunes, do a search on “doxa colwood”.)

Derek Thrush (left) with children from Iglesia Luz in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Derek Thrush (left) with children from Iglesia Luz in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Derek Thrush with Pastor Janiria of Iglesia Luz.

Derek Thrush with Pastor Janiria of Iglesia Luz.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Praying with Honduran kids.

Praying with Honduran kids.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Devonshire group in Honduras.

Derek Thrush, senior pastor, Devonshire Church (Harrisburg, Pa.)

Just last week, a team of 11 individuals from Devonshire Church returned from a trip to Puerto Cortes, Honduras. There, we spent 10 days reconnecting and ministering with our sister church, Iglesia Luz, in the barrio of Camaguey.

Our primary ministry focus throughout the week was:

  • Leading a week-long Children’s Bible School.
  • Meeting and sharing with home groups.
  • Bringing encouragement to the Iglesia Luz church family.
  • Helping complete the construction of classrooms and replacing a roof on the church parsonage.
  • Serving the needs of families in the community.

Through the past four visits and a 12-year partnership in the gospel, it has been a gift to experience sweet times of fellowship as brothers and sisters united in Christ. It was such a joy to reconnect with a sister church family where we’ve seen friendships develop, families grow, and a deepening of Christian love for one another.

The Send Out at Fowlerville.

The Send Out at Fowlerville.

Participants with their CIA shirts

Participants with their CIA shirts

Mark Wilson (right), senior pastor, Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.)

May 16, 2015, marked our fifth year of serving the Fowlerville community through “Outflow Serving Day.” This event has grown to be one of the largest impacts that we have as a local church in our community.

This year, over 500 participants from our church were sent out into our community to serve. They were dressed in bright florescent CIA (the Church In Action) shirts, tagged with Romans 15:13 on the front.

During the 6-8 hours, we completed over 90 projects. They included painting, deck repair/replacement, landscaping, bathroom repair, floor repair, roof repair, and too many other things to list.

This has become one of our most anticipated events of the year by our congregation, and has opened the door to many spiritual conversations. Over the years we have served many who are far away from Christ, or who have been deeply hurt by the church. Through this, God continues to open doors and hearts.

We truly believe, as the song says, that “Greater Things are Still to be Done in this City!”

On June 21, 2015, Richfield Road UB church (Flint, Mich.) held a Tree Planting Ceremony to honor former pastors who has passed away. A tree was planted for each pastor in appreciation for his years of service at Richfield Road. They are:

Pastor Charles Malson, Sr., 1957-1982.
Pastor Robert Shellhouse, 1982-1987.
Pastor Charles Bugby, 1998.
Pastor Dick Raab, 1998-2007.

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For the fifth year, the Findlay First United Brethren Church (Findlay, Ohio) honored a correction’s officer from the Hancock County Jail during a Sunday morning worship service. The person was selected by their peers for their attitude and desire to impact the lives of the inmates in a positive way.

This year’s presentation occurred during the second service at Findlay First and resulted. Also in the attendance were the county sheriff, jail administrator, receipts supervisor, and family members.

This is one way of saying thank you to the sheriff’s department for allowing the church to have a Bible study every Thursday night in the jail’s library.

Also, Pastor Darwin Dunten (right), who is a chaplain of the jail, had been joking with the sheriff for years about getting a gun since he was a “special deputy.” This year, the sheriff presented Pastor Dunten with his official gun during the CO award service. It was orange and shot caps.

On May 17, Findlay First will start a Tuesday night Bible study for inmates who have been released. This came as a result of the inmates’ desire to continue to study God’s Word.

Shoppers perusing the various items for sale inside the Activity Center.

Shoppers perusing the various items for sale inside the Activity Center.

A line formed between the Activity Center and the church building, waiting for the sale to begin at 9 am on the opening day of the sale.

A line formed between the Activity Center and the church building, waiting for the sale to begin at 9 am on the opening day of the sale.

Teens of Hillsdale United Brethren Church (Hillsdale, Mich.) will go on two mission trips this summer. One team will travel to Washington, D.C., June 13-20. The other team will travel to Mexico July 4-11.

To pay for the expenses for these two trips (about $35,000), a number of fundraising activities have been held this year. The rummage sale held April 30 – May 2 in the newly-renovated HUB Activity Center has now put them over the top, so both mission trips are fully funded.

pump-inside

Working on the pump at Regent College of the Caribbean in Mandeville, Jamaica.

Working on the pump at Regent College of the Caribbean in Mandeville, Jamaica.

Rev. Ron Cook (right), Chambersburg, Pa.

The mission team of Salem UB church (Chambersburg, Pa.) asked me to go along with them to Jamaica January 24 through February 3 to help with the dining hall project at Regent College in Mandeville. They asked me to hold a Bible study each morning with them, and also to preach on January 25 at the Salem Church in Jamaica.

When I knew that I was going with the team, the Reflections Sunday school class at King Street wanted to help me with the cost of the trip. They took an offering for two weeks in December, and they gave me far more than the cost of the trip. The remainder was used to purchase materials for the team to work on the dining hall.

I emailed Dwight Kuntz prior to going to Jamaica about some plumbing issues at the college, which he talked to me about two years ago when I went along with Salem team to Jamaica. He told me that the plumbing issues still existed and needed attention.

I asked the New Life Sunday school class at King Street, which I teach once a month, if they would be willing to give some money toward the plumbing costs. They took an offering and gave me a check on January 18 for $900. With that money, I was able to purchase materials in Mandeville hardware store for the various plumbing projects.

One issue was changing the water pump for the campus from a very small area to inside the building beside it. We moved the pump from the small enclosure to the inside of the building, where there is plenty of space around the pump and it can be secured adequately (pumps had been stolen two times). The window was enclosed and bars placed on both window and door.

In addition to changing the pump, there were plumbing issues in commodes, showers, and sinks in almost every bathroom. I was able to fix many of these problems so that they worked adequately. There are still plumbing issues that will need to be addressed next year when I return on a mission trip.

I was able to help the mission team, when not doing plumbing, to get work done on the dining hall. There is still much work to be done over the next several years. There are walls that need to be erected, plumbing and electrical work, concreting of the floor, and steel beams to be placed.

There are two critical needs for this work to be completed: work teams to go to Mandeville, and finances to purchase the materials. I am certain that Dwight Kuntz, who is overseeing this project, would appreciate help in both of these areas. If you are interested, contact Donna Hollopeter in Global Ministries.

Scott Graham (right), senior pastor, Good Shepherd UB (Greenfield, Ohio)

The roof at Good Shepherd UB desperately needs to be replaced. Over 20 years of storms and deterioration have taken a toll, and shingles are peeling off. It won’t be long until it starts leaking.

Members of the church’s facilities team have received bids to replace the roof. The church needs $16,500 and it’s not in the bank. The church had discussed and prayed about the need, and $9700 has been received over the past year through small gifts.

Instead of going through a long capital campaign to raise the rest of the funds, the church decided to receive one special offering, trusting God to provide.

For about six weeks, we shared the Raise the Roof special offering. We asked the congregation to prayerfully consider a sacrificial gift over and above their tithes.

On Sunday, April 19, we received the offering. The one-time special offering was $6,815, which brought the roof total to $16,515—nearly exactly what was needed!

Marshall Woods (right), senior pastor, Mill Chapel (Reedsville, W. Va.)

Easter Sunday was an exciting day at Mill Chapel. The attendance exceeded 400. The best news was that approximately 30 made first-time decisions for Christ. Sunrise service was at 6:30, followed by breakfast. Our regular worship services were held at 8:30 & 11am. It was a profitable day for the kingdom of God. Our sermons are now on a local television station.

God is doing great things.