Huntington University’s Veritas Theology Institute could be a great opportunity this summer for a high school student in your church to explore a deeper level of theological study and experience life on HU’s campus. This eight-day academy is taking place June 8-15, 2024, and is open to all high school sophomores and juniors. Applications are available online at

The tuition for this experience is $300 until May 1, 2024. After that early bird date, tuition will be $350. There is also an HU legacy tuition rate if one both of the applicant’s parent’s attended Huntington University. Only 30 spots are available for this summer’s institute, so consider the high school students in your world who might be interested in something a little more intense and interactive this summer and share this opportunity with them.

Find out more about the Veritas Theology Institute at Huntington University here.



Steve Dennie–from IBM Selectric to an iMac.

Randy Neuman (right)
Librarian and faculty member at Huntington University, and director of the United Brethren Historical Center

Much has changed in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ during the past four decades, and now the person who helped us understand many of those changes is stepping down after 45 years. Steve Dennie, Director of Communications, will leave his position at the end of August 2023.

Steve has been steeped in United Brethrenism since birth. The son of a United Brethren pastoral couple, Don and Gloria Dennie, he spent his early years on the campus of Huntington College where his dad served six years as assistant business manager. He lived in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California while his father transitioned from schoolteacher to pastoral ministry.

Like many PKs at that time, Steve enrolled at his parents’ alma mater, Huntington College, to further his education. He pursued a degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. His love of journalism began in elementary school and was developed further in high school and college by teachers who encouraged his style of writing.

Steve began his career with the denomination in 1978 as assistant editor of The United Brethren magazine, once the primary communication tool of the denomination. He started out as a traditional magazine editor when the denomination owned its own printshop, but soon was thrust into the position of primary editor as the printshop was shut down and the publication was outsourced for printing. He surpassed all the challenges while turning out an award-winning publication.

Steve served with 11 different bishops. Here he is with four of them. L-r: Ray Seilhamer, Steve, Ron Ramsey, Todd Fetters, and C. Ray Miller.

Over the years, Steve has overseen many changes to the way UBs communicate. Transitioning from editor to director of Communications, he shepherded the denomination from a totally print-based communications strategy to one that is almost totally internet-based. In addition to being chief information gatherer and disseminator, he has served as the editor of national conference publications and the UB Discipline. He has also edited or authored a dozen books, including one major UB history, several biographies, some humor books, and his personal favorite, the recent Against the Blighting Curse, a look at UBs who served in the Civil War. Among his other works, he is particularly fond of Tio Archie, about missionary Archie Cameron and the history of the UB church in Honduras.

In a recent interview, Steve was asked about several topics related to the United Brethren denomination and communications. When asked about the most significant changes he has seen during the last 45 years, he cited the move from several bishops to one in 1993, the development of the international structure in 2001, and the transition to one national conference in 2005. When asked about his favorite United Brethren figures, he suggested Bishop Jonathan Weaver (1824-1901) because he was a prolific, persuasive, and humorous writer. He also spoke highly of Bishop C. Ray Miller, who was instrumental in developing young ministers and lay leaders. As to the state of communications within the denomination, he thinks the time is right for a change to new platforms to disseminate information.

Steve and wife Pam will continue living in Fort Wayne, Ind. He plans to continue to write, edit, and take care of his two cats while in retirement.

The home of Dan and Jane Kopp in Delaware, Ohio.

Rev. Dan and Jane Kopp

We received this message from Mike Brown, pastor of Franklin UB church (New Albany, Ohio). It regards Dan Kopp, a former UB pastor and church planter (and son of former bishop Clarence Kopp) and his wife, Jane. They live in Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus.

“I am reaching out to several of my pastor friends to ask you to pray deeply for Dan and Jane Kopp. Most of you know that Dan is in a battle with terminal cancer which often leaves him extremely weak and unable to do much of anything. But now we need to pray additionally for he and Jane. Wednesday night [May 31] their house garage caught on fire and they lost two family cars as well as everything in the garage. Also the smoke damage is so bad in the house it could be unlivable for the next six months.”

Dan has been battling stage 4 gallbladder cancer for the past year. The fire was caused by a car battery that exploded. He and Jane certainly need our prayers at this time. In addition, their daughter, Brannyn, points people to this GoFundMe page started by neighbors of Dan and Jane.

Bishop Todd Fetters has announced that Brian Biedenbach (right) has been hired as the new Director of Communications for the US National Conference. He will take the place of Steve Dennie, who will retire on August 31 after 45 years at the UB National Office. Brian will begin sometime after the US National Conference meeting in July.

Brian has worked in fulltime youth ministry for 22 years, including eight years at Emmanuel UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind., and 11 years in Fort Wayne with Youth for Christ. He served five years on the YFC Core national ministry team, wrote curriculum for everything from small groups to national conference breakouts, and spoke at a wide range of youth events and conferences.

Brian brings skills in a variety of communications-related areas, including video, podcasting, social media, graphic design, and curriculum development.

In 2021, Brian founded Summit City Studios, a podcast production company. He is a Youtube video content creator, and has also produced videos for campaigns, event promotion, and corporate training. He created and hosted four podcasts, including the ten-episode “For the Neighborhoods and the Nations,” in which he and Bishop Todd Fetters discussed the United Brethren Core Values.

Brian in the studio.

Brian Biedenbach grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated in 2000 from the University of Indianapolis with a degree in Biology. In 2003 he became the middle-school pastor at Emmanuel UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind. He received his Specialized Ministry license in 2005, and in 2013 graduated from Huntington University with an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership. For five years, he was part of the denominational Youth Ministry Leadership Team.

Brian is currently involved at Living Grace UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind. He and Amy recently celebrated 23 years of marriage. They have three children: Haley (18), Jesse (16), and Asher (13). He says his favorite place to be is on the sidelines watching his kids compete in the sports they love.

The Director of Communications position traces back to 1834, when William Rhinehart became the first editor of the first UB denominational publication, The Religious Telescope. The name of the flagship publication became The Christian Conservator in 1889 and The United Brethren in 1957. The position title remained “editor” until 1993, when The United Brethren was discontinued. The editor position was then renamed “Director of Communications” and centralized under the Office of the Bishop. Twenty different persons have held the position since 1834. Brian Biedenbach will be the 21st.

During the business session of the 2021 US National Conference, Brian Biedenbach (right) and Roger Vezeau presented the 3Story method of evangelism to the assembled delegates.

Bishop Todd Fetters has completed a series of nine podcasts about the United Brethren Core Values, which unite UBs around the world. There is an introductory podcast, and then one podcast for each Core Value.

Listen in as Bishop Fetters and Brian Biedenbach, a UB minister, engage in an informal, fun, back-and-forth conversation about each Core Value–it’s meaning, significance, and history.

Bishop Fetters explains, “I want to draw attention to our Core Values as a unifying glue that defines the United Brethren in Christ—who we are, how we interact with each other, and how we engage our neighborhoods and the nations.”

Go here for links to all of the podcasts.

Introduction to the Core Values. (28m)
Core Value 1—We Adhere to the Confession of Faith. (23m)
Core Value 2—We Respect Unity Amidst Diversity. (31m)
Core Value 3—We Seek the Lost. (29m)
Core Value 4—We Demonstrate Social Concern. (27m)
Core Value 5—We Preserve Our Christian Witness. (30m)
Core Value 6-We Protect the Family. (28m)
Core Value 7: We Esteem Each Other.(32m)
Core Value 8-We Link with the Larger Church. (25m)

Author Steve Dennie with copies of “Against the Blighting Curse.”

“Against the Blighting Curse: The Church of the United Brethren Christ During the Civil War,” is now available on Amazon. It was written by Steve Dennie, the UB Communications Director. The paperback edition is $14.95, and the Kindle edition is a $6.95.

Thousands of United Brethren men fought in the Civil War. This book tells hundreds of stories about these soldiers, and also explores what was happening on the home front.

You’ll meet Medal of Honor winners, future professors and judges, Union spies, a former missionary turned Army surgeon, Underground Railroad operators, and a cavalry chaplain who fought Napoleon at Waterloo. You’ll meet dozens of UB ministers who left their pulpits to carry rifles and storm rebel fortifications. You’ll even cross paths with famed explorer Henry Stanley, with the author of several of our favorite Christmas songs, and with a UB layperson in Ohio who ended up in a Disney movie.

The title is taken from a resolution by the UB church’s Erie Conference at the beginning of the war: “We will devoutly pray that God may so overrule this national calamity that THE BLIGHTING CURSE of slavery, which is causing all this loss of blood and treasure, may be swept from the land — until all its inhabitants shall enjoy the rights of men and the privileges of the gospel of Christ.”

Jamie Hoffman joined the Headquarters staff on November 28, 2022. As administrative assistant to the bishop, she interacts regularly with UB ministers, church leaders, cluster leaders, and leadership teams.

Jamie taught language arts for 31 years—three years in Kendallville, Ind., followed by 28 years at Crestview Middle School in Huntington, Ind. She also taught at Huntington University for many years as an adjunct professor. When she became eligible for retirement from the school system, she decided to see what God might have in terms of a second career. She wanted to do something with an emphasis on service. Upon learning about the opening at the United Brethren National Office, she was immediately drawn to it.

Jamie came to the UB National Office with deep roots in the United Brethren in Christ Church. Her grandfather, Rev. Ronald Hoffman, was a longtime UB minister in Michigan, and her great-grandfather, Andrew Hoffman, was a UB minister, too. Jamie’s great-aunt, Bernadine Hoffman, was a UB missionary in Sierra Leone for 39 years. Both of Jamie’s parents graduated from Huntington University, as did Jamie and her sister, as well as both of Jamie’s children.

Jamie was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but when she was in second grade, her father, Jim Hoffman, accepted an administrative position at Huntington University. Her mother, Marda Hoffman, was Finance Director and Office Manager at the United Brethren National Office for 24 years, 1979-2003 (back in the 1960s, she had spent a couple years as assistant editor of publications).

So, Jamie brings to the position a love for the United Brethren church, and a familiarity with a great many UB people. She attends College Park UB church in Huntington, the church in which she grew up.

Jamie has two children. Aisha and her husband, a lawyer, live in Minneapolis, Minn. Her son, Kai, lives in Huntington and works for Sweetwater Sound.

Bishop Todd Fetters and Samantha Essig

Sam Essig (right) with her predecessor as administrative assistant to the bishop, Cathy Reich, at the farewell luncheon.

In August 2021, Samantha “Sam” Essig came to the United Brethren National Office as administrative assistant to Bishop Todd Fetters (that’s the two of them in the first photo above). She took the place of Cathy Reich, who had held that position since 2007 and was moving into semi-retirement with a new role as Events Coordinator.

Sam has been a perfect fit for this office–talented, personable, fun, energetic, a self-starter, and brimming with ideas to make us more effective. She’s a Huntington University graduate with deep roots in the United Brethren church. So we’re really, really sad to see her go.

Sam has accepted a job as Care Coordinator with Pathway Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., a very large Missionary Church congregation. She starts Monday. Sam and her husband, Jake, live in Fort Wayne and attend Pathway, so it’s a good fit. It’ll certainly be a much shorter commute. We know it’s a good opportunity for Sam, and we’re glad for her. But good help can be hard to find, and Sam has been far better than good. She’s been great.

Last week, the UB National Office staff held a farewell luncheon for Sam, with gifts. It was a good time. Her predecessor, Cathy Reich, came to help say goodbye. Friday, November 4, is Sam’s last day at the UBNO.

We are grateful to Sam for her time with us, and for the many ways she has sharpened us and contributed to the ministry of the United Brethren Church. We wish Sam the best, and know God has good things in store for her.

Samantha Essig

Two staff changes are occurring at the United Brethren National Office. Cathy Reich, who has been administrative assistant to the bishop since 2007, is transitioning to a new role: Events Coordinator. Taking her place as administrative assistant, as of August 16, is Samantha “Sam” Essig.

Samantha was born and raised
in Huntington, Ind. Her paternal grandfather, George Brown, is a brother of UB missionary June Brown.

She graduated from Huntington University in 2013 with a degree in Psychology, and two years later married Jake, a 2014 HU grad. They moved away for a while, but returned to the area in 2020 after Jake was named soccer coach at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Samantha has spent two stints as an admissions counselor for Huntington University, about two years total. That’s what she was doing since the beginning of 2021, before the position at the UB National Office opened up.

We welcome Samantha to the UB team. As administrative assistant, she will interact regularly with United Brethren ministers and other leaders.

Cathy Reich (left) and Samantha Essig

Cathy Reich has spent nearly 25 years working at the denominational office. In 1975, as a student at Huntington University, she began working in the UB printshop, and continued doing so until the 1981 General Conference voted to close the printshop. She then became administrative assistant to Paul Hirschy, who had just been elected Director of Church Services. She left that job in January 1984 upon the birth of the first of her three children.

In November 2007, Cathy returned to the UB National Office as administrative assistant to Bishop Ron Ramsey. She continued in that role with Bishop Phil Whipple and then with Bishop Todd Fetters.

Organizing events became a major aspect of Cathy’s job. The flagship event is the US national conference, which occurs every two years. But there are many other events, including the UB women’s conference, the pastor & spouse summits, the annual youthworkers summit, ministry team meetings, and other gatherings. Cathy scouts locations, negotiates with hotels and convention centers, oversees event planning and registration, and handles many other responsibilities related to UB events. Over the years, Cathy has acquired considerable expertise, knowledge, and savvy when it comes to the various types of UB gatherings.

As Events Coordinator, Cathy will focus solely on these meetings. It’s a part-time position which she will do remotely, without an office at the UB headquarters. But she’ll still be around, close at hand, continuing to advance the work of the United Brethren church.