Josiah K. Alwood

Josiah K. Alwood

Josiah K. Alwood was born July 15, 1828, in Cadiz, Ohio. He went on to become a United Brethren minister, and was the father of Olin Alwood, who was a bishop 1905-1921.

In 1879, Alwood wrote the hymn “The Unclouded Day.” Olin Alwood wrote about it in the March 12, 1924, issue of the denominational publication, The Christian Conservator.

At the time, the Alwood family lived in Morenci, Mich. J. K. Alwood had spent the day in an extended discussion with a Seventh Day Adventist minister in the village of Spring Hill, Ohio. Their debate lasted late into the night (Alwood felt he won), and it was around midnight when he climbed atop his horse for the eight-mile ride back to Morenci.

As he entered Morenci, Alwood saw what his son described simply as “a rainbow by moonlight.” J. K.’s description was more elaborate, the scene seared into his memory. “I saw a rainbow which was caused by the rays of the moon streaming against a shower of rain falling from a dark, dense cloud a short distance beyond the northwestern limits of our sleeping Morenci. The moon was low in the cloudless southeastern sky. It was a new sight to me; and you can scarcely imagine the feeling of solemn joy which came over me as I gazed upon the lovely segment of the bow of promise smiling on our quiet town.”

As that description showed, Alwood had a strong poetic streak. The next morning, he awoke with the start of a song in his head. He spent the next two days composing the four verses. Olin, who was just a child then, wrote:

“The extent of his ability as a musician was to drum a tune by ear with one finger on the very modest Estey organ the home afforded. This he proceeded to do to provide an air for his song. Soon we heard him singing some new strange strains and words as new. A new song had been made.”

Some time later, an old acquaintance named J. F. Kinsey, who was a vocal music teacher, asked J. K. Alwood if he had any music to suggest. Josiah sang his song, and Kinsey asked for permission to arrange the hymn for publication.

Olin Alwood said they never received any money for the song, and there was even an attempt to discredit his father’s authorship. “But I well remember seeing him write the words and then drum out the tune on the organ. We at home were the first who ever heard it sung.”

Bishop Milton Wright wrote of Josiah Alwood upon his death in 1909, “Always stood for the right as he saw it. Always interesting in his preaching, but as often quite peculiar, for he was like no one else.”

O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

On July 14, 1991, Paul Baker held his last service as pastor of the denomination’s largest church, King Street UB in Chambersburg, Pa. In so doing, he concluded 30 years as the church’s pastor, and 36 years of pastoral ministry in the UB church—a career during which he gave leadership at nearly all levels of the denomination and in many aspects of the broader Christian community.

Paul Baker had gravitas—an imposing figure, a commanding presence, a deep, authoritative voice. He exercised strong leadership in Pennsylvania Conference and in many other capacities.

The youngest of five children, Paul Baker grew up on a farm in the Chambersburg area. He became a Christian at age 13 during services at Mt. Pleasant UB in Chambersburg, and received his call to the ministry there at age 18. He graduated from Huntington College in 1955 and returned to Chambersburg to become associate pastor of King Street, serving in that position for two years under Clyde W. Meadows. At the same time, he entered Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., from which he graduated in 1963 with a Master of Divinity.

In 1957, Baker left King Street to become pastor of Otterbein UB in Greencastle, Pa. He remained there until 1961, when General Conference elected Dr. Meadows as bishop. So Meadows, who spent 33 years at King Street, was followed by a man who would stay 30 years.

Baker’s work extended far beyond the church. He had served as a conference superintendent beginning in 1967 and as senior superintendent since 1977. He had been a member of the denominational General Board continuously since 1967, and on its executive committee starting in 1981.

Baker joined the Huntington College Board of Trustees in 1970, and in 1979 received the “Distinguished Alumni Citation.” The college awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1980.

Baker served on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals for ten years. And there were many other leadership roles—with Rhodes Grove Camp, the Salvation Army, Piney Mountain Home, the local ministerial association, YMCA, Kiwanis, and other groups.

Pat Jones was assigned as senior pastor of King Street effective August 1, 1991. Jones had just completed three years as pastor of Devonshire Memorial Church in Harrisburg, Pa. That same month, Dr. Baker assumed a new role with a local funeral home.

On January 14, 2001, King Street dedicated a 24,100 square-foot addition. It was primarily a gymnasium, which could seat over 500 people in the weekly contemporary worship service. They named it the Baker Center.

Emmett and Shirley Cox and children.

Emmett and Shirley Cox and children.

Emmett D. Cox, 89, passed away July 10, 2015, just a few days before the US National Conference began.

Emmett Cox grew up in the Garnett UB church in Garnett, Kansas, and was converted in 1943. Shirley was the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Glenn Betterly, who were serving the North Bruce UB church in Port Elgin, Ontario, when Shirley headed off to Huntington College. Emmett and Shirley met at HC and were married on August 14, 1948. They both graduated from Huntington College in 1951. Shirley had a degree in Education. Emmett went on to graduate from the HC seminary.

Emmett and Shirley were missionaries in Sierra Leone over a 20-year period beginning in 1957. During those years Emmett served as a high school principal, business manager, general superintendent, primary school secretary, and field secretary. Shirley also kept busy with various roles over the years, including matron of the Minnie Mull girls’ home and teacher at Centennial Secondary School.

In 1969, Emmett received a Masters in Missions from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. That year, General Conference elected him to oversee our worldwide mission work as the denomination’s General Secretary of Missions. That ended in 1973, when General Conference decided to give that responsibility to Bishop Duane Reahm, the first person to hold the role which would become known as the “overseas bishop.”

Emmett and Shirley then pastored churches for the next 30 years.

  • 1976-1984: Victory UB church (Burbank, Calif.).
  • 1984-1985: First UB church (Lake Havasu City, Ariz.).
  • 1985-1992: Willshire UB church (Willshire, Ohio).
  • 1992-2003: Six Mile Church, a non-UB congregation in Bluffton, Ind.

In retirement, Emmett and Shirley also served short-term as volunteers in Myanmar. They had four children: son Douglas, daughters Diane and Darlene, and foster son Billy Simbo, from Sierra Leone.

Bishop William Brown

Bishop William Brown

Michael Brown immigrated from Alsace, located in eastern France on the German border, and settled in the Tulpehocken Valley near Lebanon, Pa. He was considered one of the early converts of the revival movement started by Martin Boehm and William Otterbein.

As he lay dying, Michael, surrounded by family, “exhorted till the place became as the very gate of heaven.” When he finally died, the patriarch’s hand was resting upon the head of a seven-year-old grandson named William.

“From that hour,” wrote biographer Henry Adams Thompson, “the child’s heart was drawn towards God and heaven.”

William Brown, born July 9, 1796, was raised in a Christian home. He said his own conversion occurred at age 16 during a barn meeting in Carlisle, Pa. He recalled, “I was happy day and night for months. Often, after all had retired at night, I would walk out, look up into the starry heavens, and think of Jesus and heaven until, before I was aware of it, I would be running with outstretched arms, praying to Jesus to give me wings to fly home to glory.”

Brown became a licensed United Brethren minister in 1816. For the next eight years, he frequently traveled with Bishop Christian Newcomer, who often referred to Brown in his journal. Upon reaching an appointment, typically Newcomer would preach, and then Brown would preach (Brown was apparently no warm-up act). Brown was known to preach in both German and English.

In 1819, Brown began two years on the Virginia Circuit, which consisted of 30 appointments. It took him four weeks, and 300 miles of travel on horseback, to cover them all.

Brown was a member of the 1821 General Conference which took our first stand against alcohol. He played a key role. One minister offered a resolution saying, “No preacher shall be allowed to carry on a distillery.” Brown proposed replacing “preacher” with “member,” convinced that what was good for preachers was good for everyone. After much debate, the conference settled on, “Neither preacher nor lay member shall be allowed to carry on a distillery.”

In 1833, Brown was among the six Pennsylvania Conference delegates to General Conference, which met south of Columbus, Ohio. The number of bishops was increased from two to three. Brown and Samuel Heistand were elected as rookie bishops, joining Henry Kumler, Sr., who had been serving alone for three years following the death of Christian Newcomer.

William Brown served just four years as bishop. In 1838, he moved to Benton County, Indiana, located on the Illinois border near Lafayette. His father had apparently moved there some years before. Brown covered several circuits, was presiding elder for that area, and according to Thompson, “was preaching more or less all the time.”

Bishop William Brown died May 11, 1868, at age 71, from congestion of the liver. He viewed funeral sermons as improper, and didn’t want one at his own funeral. So there was none.

Jacob Howe at his desk in the missions office in Huntington, Ind.

Jacob Howe at his desk in the missions office in Huntington, Ind.

Jacob Howe on board a ship en route to Sierra Leone in 1914.

Jacob Howe on board a ship en route to Sierra Leone in 1914

Jacob Howe passed away on July 9, 1941. He was secretary of missions for 31 years, 1905-1936. That’s a longer stretch than any other missions director in our history. Sure, Daniel Flickinger went 28 years starting in 1857, and then came back in 1897 for another eight years, for a total of 36 years. But 31 unbroken years is a record. Howe was followed by George Fleming–a person he recruited as a missionary–who served 25 years as secretary of missions.

Very little is recorded in our history books about Howe. He was a minister from Canada…but that’s about it. He was elected at the 1905 General Conference held at Gaines UB church in Caledonia, Mich. That year saw a massive change in leadership, partly a result of a years-long controversy involving our publishing house. Milton Wright, Halleck Floyd, and Horace Barnaby, all of whom had served as bishops since 1889, all left office. We got a new publishing agent, a new denominational editor, a new president of Huntington College. And with the departure of Daniel Flickinger, General Conference elected Jacob Howe to lead our missions program.

Although we don’t know much about Jacob Howe, we can clearly see what he accomplished as secretary of missions.

He advanced the work in Sierra Leone, and kept it going through World War I and the Depression.

He recruited some outstanding missionaries–George and Daisy Fleming, Clarence and Erma Carlson, Lloyd and Eula Eby, Dr. Leslie Huntley, Abbie Swales, Martha Anna Bard. Clarence Carlson and Lloyd Eby would each serve eight years as bishop.

He launched the Sierra Leone field into medical work.

Although our work in China was spearheaded by the Women’s Missionary Association, Howe no doubt was involved.

Jacob Howe may be a forgotten giant.

Alan and Marilyn Wright with daughters Carol and Joanne.

Alan and Marilyn Wright with daughters Carol and Joanne.

Alan Wright and Marilyn Saufley, missionaries in Sierra Leone, were married July 6, 1963. Jerry Datema, then a missionary in Sierra Leone, performed the wedding.

Alan was born in London, England, and graduated from Exeter University. He felt called to serve as a teacher in Sierra Leone. He would become a physics teacher at Centennial Secondary School in Mattru.

Marilyn, the daughter of former Sierra Leone missionaries Charles and Ruth Saufley (1928-1932), Marilyn became a nurse. She wrote, “Having been reared by faithful Christian parents, I cannot recall the time when I did not believe in the Lord. I considered mission work a way to come closer to the Lord. Perhaps this fact, and an early impression that I should serve as a nurse in the country where my parents served, led me to my present position.”

Marilyn served at Mattru Hospital 1960-1963. After their marriage, she and Alan served together at Mattru for two terms, from 1964-1971. They both became members of Salem UB church in Chambersburg, Pa.

Alan passed away September 18, 2013. At the time of Alan’s death, he and Marilyn were living in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Martha Anna Bard with two African children.

Martha Anna Bard with two African children.

Martha Anna Bard passed away on July 2, 1996. During her 35 years in Sierra Leone, 27 of them as a United Brethren missionary, she raised several African boys. Some of them were her pallbearers at the funeral.

Martha Anna Bard

Martha Anna Bard

Martha Anna Bard, born in 1907, grew up on a farm near Corunna, Ind., and as a teen joined the Corunna UB church. She obtained what was called a “Normal” degree from Huntington College, and then taught school for a year. Then she went back for her bachelor’s degree, graduating in 1931.

During a special service at College Park church, Martha was among a number of students who committed her life to fulltime missionary service. Five other students made similar commitments during that service and went on to serve as UB missionaries in Sierra Leone: Mary (Bergdall) Huntley and Leslie Huntley (later Sierra Leone’s first real doctor for the UB mission), Erma (Burton) Carlson, Emma Hyer, and Charles Saufley.

Martha sailed for Sierra Leone in October 1931. She served as a teacher, then matron, at the Minnie Mull School for Girls at Bonthe 1931-1934 and 1937-1940. She returned to Indiana in November 1940 with war approaching.

Knowing the need for healthcare in Sierra Leone, Martha entered Indiana University’s nursing school and graduated as a Registered Nurse in November 1944. Two months later, she became the college nurse an an instructor at Huntington College. That continued until 1947, when she returned to Sierra Leone, this time as a missionary nurse at the dispensary in Gbangbaia.

Dr. Dewitt Baker lived two years at Gbangbaia. He wrote, “Throughout that part of the country, her work at the dispensary was widely recognized.”

In July 1965, Martha concluded 27 years as a UB missionary. She remained in Sierra Leone, but spent the next seven years working for the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, which in 1964 had ventured into rutile mining in Sierra Leone. Then she retired, returning to her roots in northeast Indiana.

On July 1, 1984, the Pioneer and South Amboy UB churches officially merged. It was the start of today’s Lake View church in Camden, Mich.

Bruce Strine, a UB preacher’s kid and 1977 Huntington College graduate, was assigned in July 1983 to his first pastorate: a circuit which included Pioneer and South Amboy, located six miles apart—one in northern Ohio, one in southern Michigan. Each averaged about 30 people.

Strine favored merging the two churches. It made good sense. However, he wrote, “Most of my parishioners considered merging a closed subject. It had been tried before, and many felt it should never be tried again.”

In February 1984, Strine met jointly with the two administrative boards and presented their options. Basically, they could continue struggling along as separate congregations, or they could join forces and, hopefully, become a strong, growing church. Strine, of course, recommended that they merge. And he had drawn up a four-phase proposal to make it happen.

Strine gave them three weeks to consider the matter. On March 13, 1984, each administrative board agreed. In one church, it was a 7-6 vote. But in the days and weeks ahead, people who had voted nay began to support it.

The two churches merged on July 1, and on August 15, a nearby UB church named Grace Chapel joined the merger. Three men from Grace Chapel were added to the steering committee, making it a group of ten, and Strine and George Kreger, Grace Chapel’s pastor, shared the title “co-pastor.” Strine noted that having three churches made it harder to draw up sides.

On January 1, 1985, the three churches began meeting at a neutral site. This moved everyone out of their buildings and cut all ties. All properties were sold.

On Easter Sunday—April 7, 1985—they broke ground for the new Lake View UB church in Camden, Mich. They had selected a central location—two miles from one church, four from another, and about eight miles from Grace Chapel. Six months later, they held their first service in the new facility, which seated 250-300.

Lake View, once three struggling congregations, quickly became one of the largest United Brethren churches Michigan.

Emma Hyer as a young nursing student in the early 1930s, and during her final term in the 1950s.

Emma Hyer as a young nursing student in the early 1930s, and during her final term in the 1950s.

On June 30, 1936, Emma Hyer, RN, arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The next day, she traveled on to Gbangbaia, where we had a medical dispensary. Since 1934, Dr. Lesley Huntley, our first physician in decades, had been laboring there pretty much on his own. Now, finally, he had a trained nurse to assist him.

Emma was from the United Brethren church in Coleta, Ill. She graduated from Huntington College in 1931 and went on to earn her nursing credentials. She was among six Huntington College students who committed themselves to missions during a special service during the late 1920s, and who went on to spend many years in Sierra Leone. Dr. Huntley and his future wife, Mary Bergdall, were two of those students. Charles Saufley served two terms starting in 1928. Martha Anna Bard gave 27 years of missionary service. Erma Burton, upon arriving in Freetown in 1932, married her longtime fiance Clarence Carlson. All but Charles Saufley were on the field when Emma Hyer arrived.

Nurse Hyer wrote that on her first day at the dispensary, they had 65 patients but, despite a long day of work, could only treat 40. That would become her new normal. When the Huntleys left Africa at the end of June 1937 for a year of furlough, she ran the dispensary on her own—delivering babies, extracting teeth, and the occasional emergency appendectomy. One day she cut out, without anesthetic, the tail of a stingray embedded in the fleshy part of a fisherman’s thumb. George Fleming gave her credit for saving the life of Clarence and Erma Carlson’s young son, Jimmie, who caught whooping cough and needed days and nights of constant care.

The Huntleys returned to Gbangbaia July 1938 to November 1941. During his second term, they treated over 31,000 patients. Emma Hyer was there for most of that time; she took a year of furlough in May 1938, but returned to serve 1939-1942. She entered the military in April 1944 and spent 16 months in Great Britain, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. She returned to Sierra Leone for one final term in 1952-1955, this time at the new hospital in Mattru.

Peter Kemp was born June 28, 1749. He became a strong supporter of the movement started by William Ottebein and Martin Boehm.

Kemp lived in a large stone house about two miles outside of Frederick, Md. His home has a firm place in United Brethren history. It apparently became a frequent waystation for Otterbein, Christian Newcomer, and other traveling ministers. But most significantly, Kemp’s home hosted 17 ministers for the 1800 conference during which we officially organized as a denomination and chose Boehm and Otterbein as bishops.

The 1801 conference also met at the Kemp home. Peter Kemp was listed as a minister that year and covered a circuit of churches.

Interestingly, the Kemp family operated a still. Members brought grain to be distilled into alcohol, and barrels of whiskey, according to some accounts, were stored in the basement.

Peter Kemp passed away February 26, 1811.