michael-elkinsMichael Elkins (right) has been appointed lead pastor of New Hope Community Church in Bryan, Ohio, effective January 1, 2016. His first Sunday to preach is January 17.

He graduated in 2007 from Baptist Bible College (Springfield, Mo.) with a degree in Pastoral Ministries, and earned a Masters in Human Services (Executive Leadership) in 2015 from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.). Since 2009, he has served as associate pastor of Connections Community Church in Schoolcraft, Mich. He and his wife, Michelle, have three daughters ages 2-7.

The previous pastor, Pat Schwenk, left at the end of 2015 to plant a new church in Michigan (with New Hope’s blessing and support).

Ken Thompson has been appointed senior pastor of South Scipio UB church (Harlan, Ind.), effective January 1, 2016. He was ordained as a UB minister in 1993 and previously pastored UB churches in Van Buren, Ind., Huntington, Ind., and Hillsdale, Ohio.

Matt Kennedy with fellow team members and local people in Ethiopia.

Matt Kennedy with fellow team members and local people in Ethiopia.

In October, Matt Kennedy, pastor of Dillman Church (Warren, Ind.), spent two weeks in Ethiopia with Joni & Friends International and Christian Horizons Global. The team taught pastors and church planters how to minister to families and individuals with special needs. This trip was particularly meaningful to Matt because he and his wife, Jennifer, have a daughter with autism.

The team visited the cities of Asella, Hawassa, and Addis, conducting several days of disability ministry training with national church planters.

They were so blessed by the pastors’ desire to reach out to people with disabilities. The pastors desired not just to care for people with disabilities, but to empower those effected by disability to serve in the church.

The Ethiopian model churches are training people who are blind and deaf to serve in their churches. Repeatedly, the pastors said that this training had been beneficial in changing their attitudes toward people with disabilities.

One highlight for the team was making home visits to families impacted by special needs. This was such a blessing to those families, since the Ethiopian culture views disability as a curse or the result of parental sin being visited upon the children. They never hear that God loves them and views them as beautiful. They do not have people give them gifts and pray for them. Rejection and isolation is the common response to those with disability.

On the last day of the trip, the team visited the Center for Mentally Challenged Children. This program began in 1986 as a ministry of the Ethiopia Evangelical Church Mekena Yesus. It started with one child and now serves over 360 children and young adults. The team was deeply moved by the staff and their loving care and professional skills.

Through the Early Intervention program, parents are learning how to provide care at home and are seeing how much their children can learn. Their vision is to train their staff, who then transfer that knowledge to the parents. The Center brings disability awareness to the community and local churches.

Scott and Amanda Graham (front) with participants in Scott's ordination.

Scott and Amanda Graham (front) with participants in Scott’s ordination.

Bishop Todd Fetters conducts the ordination of Scott Graham.

Bishop Todd Fetters conducts the ordination of Scott Graham.

L-r: Phil Whipple, Chuck Wheatley, Amanda and Scott Graham, Bishop Todd Fetters.

L-r: Phil Whipple, Chuck Wheatley, Amanda and Scott Graham, Bishop Todd Fetters.

On Sunday, September 27, Bishop Todd Fetters spoke at Good Shepherd UB church (Greenfield, Ohio) and conducted the ordination of its pastor, Scott Graham. Scott and his wife, Amanda, were assigned to Good Shepherd in 2013.

Ordination candidates always select two ordained ministers, persons who have played an important role in their lives, to assist in the ceremony. Scott chose former bishop Phil Whipple, who assigned Scott to Good Shepherd and provided important leadership to Scott and the church; and Chuck Wheatley, former pastor (now retired) of the Avlon UB church in Bremen, Ohio.

Three other United Brethren pastors attended the ordination: Al Carter, senior pastor of First UB church (Columbus, Ohio); Douglas Stull, senior pastor of Shepherd of the Valley UB church (Logan, Ohio); and Joe Leighton, senior pastor of Salem Chapel (Junction City, Ohio).

They were joined by former Good Shepherd pastor Mike Anderson, current youth pastor Matt Bryant, and five pastors from local non-UB churches who were instrumental in Scott’s journey.

Scott wrote, “For me, this was not only a service of ordination, but a service recognizing God’s grace and his restoration in my life. This was a full service with worship and special music revolving around those themes. The whole service was very moving and emotional for us and Good Shepherd.”

Tara (left), Emma, and Tim with sons Isaac and Levi. Inset: Tim and Eli.

Tara (left), Emma, and Tim with sons Isaac and Levi. Inset: Tim and Eli.

Tim and Tara Hallman and all four children participated in the Fort4Fitness event on Saturday, September 26, in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Hallmans serve Anchor UB church in Fort Wayne. A number of persons from Anchor participate in the Fort4Fitness each year.

Rozanne Hallman in the seniors marathon.

Rozanne Hallman in the seniors marathon.

Tim ran the 10K event, and then ran the 4-mile event with twin sons Isaac and Levi (who tied for third in their age group). Tara ran the 13-mile half-marathon, as she has done for several years, while daughter Emma ran the 10k alongside Tara’s sister, Amy Saleh. On Friday night, Tim and youngest son Eli together ran the final stretch of the children’s marathon.

The next day, they all participated in the 2.2 mile Redemption House Benefit Walk in Fort Wayne. Several others from Anchor joined them.

Tim’s mother, Rozanne Hallman (right), widow of former UB pastor Gerald Hallman, and his mother-in-law, Karen Johnson, participated in the Fort4Fitness senior marathon.

Dr. Jody Bowser (right) has been appointed as senior pastor of King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa. King Street is the second-largest United Brethren church, with a weekly attendance of over 1500.

Dr. Bowser has been senior pastor for over 12 years at Moses Lake Alliance Church in Moses Lake, Wash. His ministry experience also includes five years as youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Visalia, Calif., and over ten years as director of Student Ministries and Preaching Associate at The Chapel in Akron, Ohio.

He and his wife, Caryn, have six children, three of whom currently attend Christian colleges in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Their oldest son, Jay, is on staff as a video producer at a church in Charlotte, N. C.

Jody’s doctor of ministry degree, with an emphasis on preaching, is from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. His doctoral preaching studies were done under Dr. Haddon Robinson.

Jody’s first Sunday in the pulpit at King Street will be November 1, 2015. King Street Church is excited to see where God takes us under Jody’s leadership. The congregation has been without a senior pastor since Dr. John Beukema left in January 2014 to become pastor of a church in Houston, Texas.

Marvin Schwartz (left) was appointed interim pastor of Mount Victory UB church (Decatur, Ind.) at the beginning of June 2015. Marvin previously pastored New Horizons UB church in Rockford, Ohio.

Wes Kuntzman (right) was appointed senior pastor of Mount Zion UB church (also known as Bobo) in Decatur, Ind., starting July 1, 2015. He previously pastored the UB church in Monroe, Ind.

Paul Ross 98, passed away on Sunday, May 3, in Van Wert, Ohio. He was the father of Don Ross, pastor of Victory Chapel UB church in Liberty Center, Ohio. The funeral was held May 6.

Address for Don Ross:

Donald P. Ross
U696 County Road 8
Liberty Center, OH 43532

L-r: Luke, Todd, and Brooks Fetters.

L-r: Luke, Todd, and Brooks Fetters.

Congratulations to Brooks Fetters, the current mayor of Huntington, Ind., who last night won the Republican primary against three opponents as he seeks a second four-year term. Pictured are Brooks (right) with his two brothers, Luke (a professor at Huntington University), and Todd (UB director of National Ministries). All three are ordained United Brethren ministers.