UB Global is holding a special missions event on Friday evening, October 21. It’s designed for the whole family, and it’s free!

When: 6:30 – 8:00 pm Friday, October 21
Where: Emmanuel UB church, (12222 US Highway 24 W, Fort Wayne, Ind. 46814
Cost: Free!

Some highlights:

  • Designed for the whole family.
  • Sample international appetizers from places like Ethiopia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and other countries.
  • Missions stations for engaging with international cultures, including a challenge food table for extra spicy, weird-tasting foods.
  • A great chance to meet & connect with others interested in missions from our wider region
  • The evening will conclude with a series of short but high-impact stories of what God is doing around the world.
  • Interact with the UB Global staff and other UB leaders.

Learn more on the UB Global website. You’ll also find promotional resources you can download.

Mainstreet Church (Walbridge, Ohio) will host this UB Global Prayer Gathering on Saturday morning, October 15. It will be a time of gathering together to pray over our mission fields and for our missionaries. Prayer is so powerful and we invite you to join us!

Date: Saturday, October 15, 2022
Time: 10 – 11:30 am
Location: Mainstreet UB church, 5465 Moline-Martin Rd, Walbridge, OH 43465

Please register at this link so we can get a number count for lunch.

“A Morning with Mark: the Backstory of the Bible” is the topic of the next Idea to Action Symposium. It will be held Monday, October 22, from 10am to 12:30 pm. The cost is free, but you need to register. The symposium will be held in-person at Huntington University, and also online.

The three sessions will be led by Dr. Mark Fairchild (right), professor of Thought and Practice at Huntington University. He has done original archaeological research on the early Christian church in Turkey, and has written extensively about the Apostle Paul. He is currently a Fullbrght Senior Research Scholar studying the underwater basilica at Nicea, thought to have hosted the Council of Nicea which issued the Nicean Creed.

Register at this link.


The next edition of the UB History Course will be held September 26-27, 2022. It is held entirely online via Zoom. Rev. Bob Bruce will teach the course, with guest appearances by a number of persons with expertise in aspects of UB history.

This course is a requirement for ministerial licensing. However, people who just want to learn more about United Brethren history are welcome to take the course. Laypersons, especially local church leaders (board chairpersons and members, lay delegates, etc.), are encouraged to attend. It’s valuable to have an understanding about United Brethren history.

Use this link to register or learn more.

Bobby Culler and Craig Mickey

The first Ministry Leaders Summit was held April 25-29 at the Plaza Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, Fla. This event, designed for persons serving in staff roles at United Brethren churches, was a wonderful time of refreshment, relaxation and refueling.

Dr. Dave Rahn, the keynote speaker, brought challenging and insightful messages to the group dealing with our “joy switch” as well as some habits of integrity and ministry.

This summit included a mix of ministry positions from across the United Brethren denomination. And to say that it was enjoyable would be an understatement. Here are some of the comments from those who attended.

  • “It was valuable to me just hanging out with other like-minded people” (Matt Gish, High School Youth Pastor, King Street Church, Chambersburg, Pa.).
  • “Getting to know that people that I am working with at the different churches brings a sense of ‘we are in this together’” (Angela Vincenti, UB Global, Huntington, Ind.).
  • “I enjoyed spending face-to-face time with other ministers and having the chance to make connections and build friendship with people who understand the joys and struggles of ministry” (Jordan Hart, Worship Pastor, Atlantic Avenue UB church, Franklin, Pa.).
  • “The whole week was well planned and purposeful” (Julie Llewellyn, Early Childhood Pastor, Emmanuel Community Church, Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • “Getting to know other UB worship pastors and discussing ministry practices was very helpful” (Mark Young, Worship Pastor, Mt. Pleasant Church, Chambersburg, Pa.).
  • “To me, the relational sharpening and encouragement that takes place between attendees is very valuable” (Brian Kramer, Middle School Pastor, Emmanuel Community Church, Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • “I really enjoyed being able to connect with other worship pastors, and I love the community we’ve developed with the youth pastors” (Byron Spear, Youth & Worship Pastor, Colwood UB church, Caro, Mich.).

Future Summit dates are as follows:

April 24-28, 2023. UB Youth Summit.
April 29 – May 3, 2024. Ministry Leaders Summit.

We all look forward to being together again. Until then, continue to be faithful to the calling that God has placed on your life in the place that he has put you.

Registration is now open for the various UB pastoral summits scheduled for this spring. All three will be held in Daytona Beach, Fla., during April and May at The Plaza Resort & Spa (600 N Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL).


Pastor & Spouse Summits

Every two years, we hold summits for senior pastors and spouses. This year there will be two summits, based on the church’s attendance.

April 25-28: for pastors and spouses from churches with an attendance of 0-299. Register here.

May 2-5: for pastors and spouses from churches with an attendance over 300. Register here.


Ministry Leaders Summit

April 25-29. The Ministry Leaders Summit is for persons serving in staff positions in United Brethren churches. This includes such roles as pastoral care, youth, worship, assimilation, adult education, visitation, counseling, missions, discipleship, children, etc. It is not for senior pastors. The annual Youth Workers Summit is being folded into this event for 2022. Register here.


Idea to Action Symposium

One other event to get on your schedule is the Idea to Action Symposium, sponsored jointly by the denomination and Huntington University. It will be held entirely online.

Date: Monday, March 28, 2022.
Topic: Young Adults and the Church

Details will be announced here closer to the event.

Registration is open for the next “Idea to Action” symposium, sponsored by the denomination and Huntington University. It will be offered online-only. The event is free to everyone, but you must register.

Date: Monday, October 25 (10:00 am – 1:00 pm)

Topic: “Discipling Youth and Families.”

There will be three keynote sessions.

  • 10:00 am. “Generation Z and Spiritual Maturity: Challenges & Opportunities,” by Dr. Tom Bergler, Professor of Christian Thought and Practice at Huntington University.
  • 11:00 am. “Making Disciples in the Home: Practices and Problems,” by Dr. Becky Benjamin, Associate Professor of Psychology and Department Chair at Huntington University.
  • 12:00 noon. “Ministering to GenZ within Today’s Context.” A panel discussion with United Brethren ministers Chris Augustat, Brian Kramer, and Mark Vincenti.

For complete information and to register, go to this address on the UB website.

During October, you’re invited to participate in “A Different Kind of Thailand Experience.” There will be four one-hour Zoom sessions. You can register for all sessions, but join those you are most interested in.

You will hear from a number of key UB leaders who influence the efforts of the Good Soil Community Center. You’ll also follow Steve Fish and Isa Rivera as they travel to Honduras to meet with the Nunez family, who are preparing to serve with the UB team in Thailand.

There is no cost, but you need to sign up.

The next UB History course will be held November 1-2. That’s a Monday and Tuesday, 9am – 4pm each day. Rev. Bob Bruce is the instructor.

The UB History Course will be held November 1-2, 2021. That’s a Monday and Tuesday, 9am to 4pm each day. Rev. Bob Bruce will teach the course via Zoom, so you can take it from the comfort of your own home.

This course is a requirement for ministerial licensing in the UB church, but anyone may attend. For complete information and to register, go to: ub.org/ubhistory

Todd Fetters, re-elected as bishop for the next four years, preaches during the concluding service on July 17.

2021 US National Conference

Steve Dennie

The 2021 US National Conference was held July 14-17 at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind. A quick summary before we get into details:

  • A total of 586 people registered for the conference. Of those, 88% attended in-person, and 12% attended online.
  • Todd Fetters, who has served as bishop since 2015, was elected to another four-year term.
  • The delegates elected four members of the Executive Leadership Team (three of them first-timers).
  • Our own denominational leaders were the keynote speakers: Bishop Todd Fetters, and directors Mike Dittman (National Ministries), Frank Yang (UB Global), and Sherilyn Emberton (Higher Education/Huntington University).
  • The conference theme was “Make Disciples.” The keynote messages, many of the workshops, and other elements of the conference all built on that theme.

Craig Mickey and Jennifer Bennett, from Emmanuel Community Church, served as our emcees/hosts for the services.

Deciding During the Heat of the Pandemic

Should we even consider doing an in-person National Conference in 2021? That decision had to be made during the summer of 2020—before the Second Wave of infections hit, before vaccinations became available. Contracts had to be signed with the convention center and hotels. The Grand Wayne Center kept us informed about the extensive measures they were putting in place to ensure that conferences would be safe, but nobody knew what things would look like a year down the road. So many uncertainties.

There came a point where Bishop Todd Fetters and the United Brethren National Office, which plans and administers the conference, had to make a decision. And so, nearly a year in advance, with the pandemic still raging, the decision was made and contracts were signed. We would hold an in-person conference, for however many people chose to attend. If things got bad, the state would no doubt step in and forbid in-person gatherings, thereby giving us an “out.”

But, even with vaccinations taking hold and the pandemic subsiding, would people be ready to once again gather in a large crowd? Would they feel safe? Planners knew numbers would be down considerably from previous highs of around 900. But how much of a hit would we take?

With this in mind, we enabled people to register as “virtual” attendees. This brought a variety of complications, added expenses, extra work, and opportunities for internet-related glitches. Would the majority of people attend virtually, and only a handful show up in person? When the contracts were signed, nobody could foretell. It was anyone’s guess.


The worship arts team from Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne led in worship on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and on Saturday morning.

Receptions with food were held after each service.

People Want to Meet

Registration opened in February 2021. At that point, things were looking up, with millions of people getting vaccinated. Would 300 people come? Perhaps 400?

As registrations poured in, almost everyone was choosing to attend in-person. Clearly, people were eager to gather, face to face. And as the months passed and vaccinations pushed back infections and hospitalization rates, more and more people apparently decided they would feel safe attending. The numbers passed 300, then 400…and then 500. As best as can be determined, we had 586 total registrants. Of those, only 72 chose virtual registration. The vast majority of registrants came in person to Fort Wayne, Ind.

Turns out people were eager to get out among their fellow United Brethren, and felt safe doing so.


Business Meeting

The business meeting was held on Thursday morning, July 15, with about 150 clergy delegates and 72 lay delegates, plus another 45 advisory members. Arrangements were made for online delegates to vote and otherwise participate.

There was very little “business,” and that was intentional. Usually, delegates deal with various proposals, most of which involve revising the UB Discipline. But because of the unusual nature of this particular conference, with some delegates participating virtually, voting and discussion would be cumbersome.

Therefore, Bishop Todd Fetters decided to keep anything requiring voting and discussion to a bare minimum. Only two items were urgent, requiring action by the 2021 delegates: electing a bishop for the next four years, and electing4 four members of the Executive Leadership Team. Everything else could wait until 2023.

Election of the Bishop

We elect a bishop every four years, and 2021 was one of those years. The Nominating Committee, chaired by Pastor Tim Sherman of Bethel UB (Elmore, Ohio), submitted only one name for bishop: Todd Fetters. Their report stated:

“Eight pastors were nominated for the position of bishop, one being our current bishop. Seven of the nominees declined to have their name placed on the ballot. They all feel God is working greatly in our denomination to spread his Gospel, create Unity, and build the Mission among his church. Also, looking ahead, several of these men are willing to be considered to serve in the capacity of bishop in the future. As a nominating committee, we have been greatly encouraged by the unity displayed in these men and their dedication and support of our God, denomination, and Bishop Fetters. God is working mightily amongst us.”

Todd Fetters was re-elected as bishop by unanimous ballot. He had been serving as bishop since 2015. He initially served the remaining two years of Bishop Phil Whipple’s unexpired term, then was elected to his first four-year term in 2017. He now begins a second four-year term.

Executive Leadership Team

The Executive Leadership Team handles business between sessions of the National Conference. It consists of the bishop plus 12 persons (3 from each district), evenly divided between clergy and laypersons. Each National Conference elects four members of the Executive Leadership Team—one from each district. The following persons were elected this year to four-year terms:

  • East. Marc Stephenson, senior pastor of First UB church (New Castle, Pa.).
  • Central. Ruth Nietz, a layperson from Mainstreet Church (Walbridge, Ohio).
  • North. Matt McConnell, a layperson from Journey Church (Commerce, Mich.).
  • West. Brian Kramer, pastor of Middle School Ministries at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).

Matt McConnell has served on the ELT since 2017; the others are newcomers to the ELT. These four persons will join four persons elected in 2019 to four-year terms. Those eight persons will then select an additional four members, nominated by the bishop, for two-year terms.

In addition, two ministers elected in 2019 to four-year terms need to be replaced: Andy Sikora, who has been appointed to a part-time staff position at the UB National Office; and Mark Wilson, who accepted a pastorate in the Missionary Church. The Discipline gives this responsibility to the ELT Executive Committee.


Mike Dittman, director of National Ministries, spoke on Wednesday night.

Frank Yang, executive director of UB Global, spoke on Thursday night.

Sherilyn Emberton, President of Huntington University, spoke on Friday night.

Keynote Speakers

Each day included one main service. These were open to the public to attend (not just registrants), and were also livestreamed for anyone to watch. We know that many people across the denomination—in the United States, but also beyond—benefited by participating remotely in these services. (Thanks to the pandemic, we all have much practice with virtual participation.)

Mike Dittman, our director of National Ministries since 2016, got things started on Wednesday night with a message titled, “Discipleship as Apprenticeship.”

The next night, Frank Yang, who became executive director of UB Global at the beginning of 2021, spoke using the title, “The Disciple-Maker as a Foreigner in a Strange Land.”

The delegates spent Friday afternoon and evening at Huntington University. Sherilyn Emberton, President of HU since 2013, brought a message that night on “Generational Discipleship.”

Todd Fetters closed the conference on Saturday morning with a message on, “Our Divine Assignment is to Make Disciples.”

Links to videos of all of these keynote messages can be found here.


Andy Sikora led the prayer time for UB church planters.

The UB church planters.

Frank Yang (left) prays for Ruth Rivera and the McCammon family.

Commissioning Services

The closing service also included two commissioning services.

During the conference, Bishop Fetters announced that Andy Sikora, pastor of Renew Communities (Berea, Ohio), will begin a part-time position as associate director of Church Planting, while continuing as pastor of Renew. Andy led in prayer for several church planting couples in the United States.

Frank Yang then introduced Ruth Rivera and the John and Amber McCammon family, all of whom will soon depart for Sierra Leone to serve at Mattru Hospital. As a very nice touch, Bishop John Pessima of Sierra Leone Conference provided a videotaped prayer for the McCammon family; and Bishop Neptaly Ponce of Honduras Conference provided a videotaped prayer for Ruth Rivera, who comes from one of our Honduran churches.

Ordinations are always an important and meaningful part of the closing service. This year there was just one ordination: Wesley Skiles (above, with his wife Tracey), senior pastor of Olive Branch UB church (Lakeville, Ind.). Congratulations to Wesley for this important step in his journey as a person called by God.


Frank Yang, director of UB Global, presented a workshop on current trends in missions.

Some of the workshop presenters. Clockwise from top left: Dave Datema related the story of Joseph and Mary Gomer, African-American missionaries in Sierra Leone during the late 1800s. Bob Bruce told the history of our Confession of Faith. Roger Vezeau and Brian Biedenbach led a workshop on 3Story, building on the presentation they did as part of the business session. Denny Miller talked about the role of the Bible in making disciples. Bethany Daymut gave tools for discipling children, and Sara Ward did the same for discipling women and teen girls. Anthony Blair explained how the Pietists handled discipleship, and how it applies today. Chynna Presley, along with Arthur Wilson, told how Huntington University has been very intentional in creating a diverse campus.

Workshops

The third day of National Conference has always featured a variety of workshops. This year, there were 30 different workshops (some held multiple times), divided between three 45-minute time slots.

A number of the workshops dealt in some way with the “Make Disciples” theme—digital discipleship, church planting, evangelism, the role of the Bible, small groups, how the Pietists made disciples, and discipling children, teens, women, parents, and worship teams. Other workshops dealt with current trends in missions, court cases impacting religion, cyber security, racial reconciliation, the UB Confession of Faith, sending out missionaries, and other subjects.


Delegates hanging out in the newly-renovated HUB.

The Korean tacos food truck was popular.

Huntington University Day

A big plus for meeting in Fort Wayne is the proximity to Huntington University, our denominational college. The delegates spent Friday afternoon and evening on the HU campus. It was an intermittently rainy day, but HU moved everything indoors, and it worked out well.

Lots of people flocked to the renovated HUB, where the abundant seating provided places to just sit and chat (while sipping on Starbucks brew). The “new” HUB restores the sense of community, a central gathering place, a place to hang-out, which was intrinsic to the building when it was erected in 1968. Delegates who were students during those earlier years loved the new look of the HUB.

There were food trucks in the parking lot, bounce-houses in the Merillat gym, live music in the upper level of the HUB, tours of the campus, and much more.

At 6:30, everyone gathered in Zurcher Auditorium in the Merillat Centre for the Arts for the evening service. Joyful Noise, the student worship team, led in music. Then Dr. Sherilyn Emberton gave her message on “Generational Discipleship.”

In one superb illustration, she mentioned Dr. M. I. Burkholder, the longtime dean of the Huntington University seminary, and cited some of his students over the years: Bishops Weaver, Miller, Sites, Kopp, Seihamer, Hirschy, Ramsey; and such other UB leaders as Paul Fetters, Kent Maxwell, Kirby Keller, and more. She then asked that people stand if they had been influenced by one of those persons. Many people stood. Then she told those still seated, “Look around. If you’ve been influenced by one of the people standing, will you stand.” Almost everybody in the auditorium was standing. It was powerful.

The evening concluded with fireworks over Lake Sno-Tip. Thankfully, the rain held off just barely long enough.

Joyful Noise, the HU student worship team, led worship on Friday night.

Joyful Noise.


L-r: Jay LeBlanc, Sam Ward, and Jessi Hott, worship leaders at Emmanuel, opened the business session.

One of the Emmanuel technicians on duty.

Many Thanks to Emmanuel

Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne did a great deal to make the conference a success.

Most significantly, Emmanuel’s worship arts team provided high-quality music during the services on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. They were led by worship leaders Sam Ward, Jay LeBlanc, and Jessi Hott. The team shot several videos which were part of the worship experience, and brought a team to manage the backstage aspects of the services (sound, lighting, slides, video screens, etc.).

But Emmanuel people served in other ways. They handled the entire registration process, from the online signups to registering people as they arrived in Fort Wayne. They stocked and staffed the Hospitality Room. They handled all set-up in the ballroom where the services were held—lighting, sound, stage, screens, etc. Jessi Hott, one of the worship leaders, designed the conference logo and other materials, and produced a video for the closing service which recapped the first few days.


David Kline, associate director of UB Global, was the tough-minded TSA agent.

Some of the groups that went through the UB Global escape room.

Escape Room

UB Global set up what became a very fun activity: an escape room with a TSA theme. It proved very popular, with upwards of 150 people going through it in small groups, usually spending 20 minutes. They had fun, and in the process learned more about United Brethren missions.


Videos from the Conference

Many videos from the conference have been posted at ub.org/nc21-videos. They include:

  • The four main services in their entirety (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday).
  • Just the message from the keynote speaker at each of the main services.
  • Videos of 12 of the workshops.
  • The “In Memoriam” tribute to 30 UB ministers and missionaries who passed away since the 2019 National Conference.
  • The 3Story training session from the business meeting.

Bishop Todd and Lisa Fetters concluded the conference with some personal remarks about their journey during the past year.

2023 National Conference

It’s always nice hearing compliments about yourself. The Grand Wayne Center sent this note to the UB National Office: “Your attendees were some of the most pleasurable people we have hosted in quite some time.”

The 2023 US National Conference will return to the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne. Date: July 11-14, 2023. The schedule has been moved back a day, so that we begin on a Tuesday and end Friday morning. Plan now to attend!