L-r: Greg Voight, Joni Michaud, Victor Mojica, Dale Perry.

The 2019-2021 Executive Leadership Team is now complete. Four members were elected by this summer’s US National Conference, to join four others with continuing terms. That left four persons to be appointed for the next two years. Bishop Todd Fetters has now chosen those persons, and they were unanimously approved by the ELT.

The appointees include one person from each region—two laypersons, two clergy. Three of the appointees are serving on the ELT for the first time. The fourth, Greg Voight, has been an ELT member since 2013. Here is information about each of them.

Greg Voight has been senior pastor of Lancaster UB church in Lancaster, Ohio, since 2006. Before that, he served two years as an intern at what is now Shoreline UB church in Oak Harbor, Ohio. He is a 2006 graduate of Findlay University (Findlay, Ohio), and was ordained in 2011. Greg and his wife, Debbie, were married in 1995 and have three children.

Joni Michaud is a member of Pleasant Valley UB church in Lake Odessa, Mich. She currently serves there as administrative board chair and lay leader, and teaches junior church and Sunday school. Joni has been a lay delegate from her church to the last four meetings of the US National Conference, and served on the Human Sexuality Task Force 2015-2017. Joni works as an attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., practicing immigration law, family law, and criminal defense. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Huntington University in 2005 and her juris doctor from Notre Dame Law School in 2008.

Victor Mojica and his wife, Margarita, have been members of Clearview UB church (Goshen, Ind.) since 1994. He has been serving as a part-time pastor at Clearview since 1998. Currently, Clearview is made up of an English-speaking congregation pastored by Jim Gillette, and a Spanish-speaking congregation pastored by Victor. He also works in his family business.

Dale Perry served 25 years as an employee of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, from which he recently retired as Manager of the Department’s Land Acquisition Program for highway and bridge construction projects. Dale has since joined consulting firm Arrow Land Solutions, LLC, as Director of Training and Development. He and his wife, Shirley, have been members of Mount Pleasant UB church (Chambersburg, Pa.) for 27 years. Dale is currently chairperson of the Governance Board (since 2016), teaches an adult Sunday school class, and serves on the church Personnel Relations Commission and Worship Media Team.

You can view the complete ELT here. There are three persons from each region, for a total of 12 members. Six are clergy, six are laypersons. The bishop is the 13th member, and he chairs the Executive Leadership Team, which meets twice a year.

Steve Dennie, UB Communications Director

As we enter Memorial Day weekend….The Religious Telescope, our denominational magazine during the 1800s, recorded the obituaries of nearly 900 United Brethren men who died fighting for the Union during the Civil War. They included about 35 UB ministers, and 40 sons of UB ministers. As a denomination, we were fully committed to the Union cause.

On March 11, 1864, Thomas Evans enlisted as a private in the Union army. He was 38 years old, not a young man like so many Civil War soldiers. He left a wife and seven children at home in Newport, Iowa. And he was not, then, a Christian. But he had some kind of United Brethren connection.

Evans was born in Delaware, but made his way west with the growing nation. He and Nancy were married in 1847 in Indiana, but eventually settled in Iowa. Then came war. Thomas said good-bye to his wife and children for the last time, and left home to join the 24th Iowa Infantry, Company D.

Within eight months, Thomas would die of wounds received in the battle of Cedar Creek, the culminating battle of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of late 1864. It was a costly Union victory, with 644 killed, 3,430 wounded, and nearly 1600 taken prisoner. But it helped seal the fate of the Confederacy.

Evans’ obituary was published in The Religious Telescope, the United Brethren bi-weekly newspaper at the time. Perhaps he was what we called a “Seeker,” a category of membership for persons “giving evidence that they are sincerely seeking the Lord.” Nancy would soon become a United Brethren member, so there was probably a UB church there in Newport, or nearby. The UB presence was fairly thick in that part of Iowa.

If Thomas was, indeed, a Seeker, he had help for that journey while in the army. The Religious Telescope published the obituaries over 90 Iowa men who died serving in uniform. They included several United Brethren ministers, and laypersons from ages 17 to 59. They were spread among 32 infantry regiments and six cavalry regiments. We can assume that, in addition to these 90 fallen soldiers, hundreds of additional United Brethren men from Iowa served in and survived the war.

Six of those fallen men served in the 24th Iowa Infantry alongside Thomas Evans. Two of them were the sons of United Brethren preachers.

Abram Hershey, 59, was the son of Rev. Christian Hershey, who had basically started the UB church in Lisbon, Iowa. The Hersheys were from Lancaster, Pa., the birthplace of United Brethrenism. When Rev. Hershey came to Lisbon in 1847, a year after Iowa achieved statehood, he brought a bunch of relatives with him, including his son Abram and Abram’s large family. Other Pennsylvanians also came, enough that histories refer to the “Pennsylvania Settlement.” The Iowa Conference was organized at Lisbon in 1849, with Christian Hershey as one of the charter members, and Lisbon became perhaps the most prominent church in the conference.

Abram’s three oldest sons—Christian, John, and Henry Harrison—all enlisted in the Union army. Christian and John enlisted together on September 3, 1862, in the 24th Iowa Infantry. Christian was discharged for disability in May 1863—perhaps wounds, but more likely, sickness. But his father, Abram, signed up on March 3, 1864, to take Christian’s place.

Thomas Evans enlisted on March 11, 1864, just eight days after Abram. Though they were in different companies of the 24th—Abram and his sons in Company F, Thomas in Company D—we can assume that they at least got acquainted on their journey to join the regiment. But it’s quite likely that they already knew each other, since they lived just 16 miles apart.

Of the three brothers, John Hershey had the more distinguished military career. By May 1863, he had been promoted to sergeant. Then came 1864, quite an eventful year for him. First, his father joined Company F. Two months later, on April 8, John was severely wounded in the battle of Mansfield, La., a Union defeat (it is also known as the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads). Two months later, on June 13, his father, Abram, died of disease aboard a steamer near New Orleans. John recovered from his wounds, and then was wounded again, this time slightly, on September 19 at the battle of Opequon, also known as the third battle of Winchester, Va.

A month later, on October 19, John was taken prisoner at the battle of Cedar Creek, Va., the same battle in which Thomas Evans was mortally wounded. John, fortunately, was soon paroled in a prisoner exchange and would survive the war.

Another UB from the 24th died at Cedar Creek—George S. Smith, 23, who lived 14 miles from Evans. He was born in Germany, but was now living in Mount Vernon, Iowa, with a wife and three children. He had fought for two years before dying on the battlefield. He joined William O. Huyck, another young soldier from Mount Vernon, with whom he had enlisted in Company F in August 1862. Huyck, 30, a native of Ohio, died of disease on January 5, 1863.

Another UB preacher’s kid in the 24th was William Otterbein Miller, who was obviously named after founding bishop Philip William Otterbein. He was the son of Rev. Martin Miller, a pastor in Iowa Conference who, like the Hersheys, had come from Pennsylvania. Miller was wounded on September 19 at the battle of Opequon, and finally died of his wounds on February 13, 1865.

No doubt various other United Brethren served alongside Thomas Evans in the 24th regiment. Western College, a UB school located 18 miles from the Evans home, contributed a large number of students to the war effort. Then there would have been Christians from like-minded denominations like the Methodist and Evangelical churches. In fact, the 24th was sometimes called the “Methodist” regiment.

Thomas apparently sought God as a soldier. And it was as a soldier that he finally surrendered his life to Christ. It happened one night while he was on picket duty. Perhaps he was alone, but probably not. Was another UB with him when he committed his life to Jesus, between glances at the rebel pickets across the way? How might his decision have been influenced through interactions with Abram and John Hershey, George Smith, and William Otterbein Miller?

We don’t know how or when it happened, but it apparently did.

On October 19, 1864, Thomas Evans was severely wounded at the battle of Cedar Creek. His right forearm was amputated and he was hospitalized in Baltimore. But on November 5, he succumbed to his wounds.

A chaplain was there at his deathbed. According to Evans’ obituary in The Religious Telescope, “He told the chaplain that all he had to regret was that his children had never heard their father pray.”

The obituary added that Nancy Evans, Thomas’s wife, subsequently became a Christian and joined the local United Brethren church.

The United Brethren bookstore at the UB National Office was discontinued at the beginning of 2018. A large number of items remain in stock–books, Bibles, candles, card sets, offering envelopes, children’s materials, and more. All of it must go by the end of the year. These items are being made available to United Brethren churches at discounted prices.

The list was originally published in early November. Since then, some of the items have been sold. This PDF lists the items still for sale.

Here is a PDF list of all items for sale. To order, call 888-622-3019. Or, send your order to: orders@ub.org. Shipping costs will be determined based on your order.

We will continue providing various UB-related materials—books, certificates, seals, and more. You can read about them on the UB website.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association produced a documentary about the life of Billy Graham, who passed away on February 21 of this year. “Billy Graham: an Extraordinary Journey” tells how God used Billy Graham to reach millions of people with the gospel. This 72-minute documentary is available as a free digital download through December 31, 2018. The BGEA encouraged churches to show the documentary to inspire members to reach your community with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Go to BillyGraham.org/film.

In the United States, we are currently watching Hurricane Florence pound the Carolinas. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, United Brethren in Hong Kong and Macau are preparing for Super Typhoon Mangkhut, the largest storm recorded anywhere in the world during 2018.

Mangkhut had wind speeds of up to 200 mph before slamming into the northern Philippines Saturday morning as a Category 5 storm. The wind speed is now around 165 mph (losing the “super” status).

Mangkhut is expected to hit Hong Kong, where we have about ten churches, and nearby Macau on Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, and numerous other emergency preparations are being made. One report says Typhoon Mangkhut could be the strongest storm to hit Hong Kong in 60 years. In 2017, ten people died in Macau from Typhoon Hato, the strongest storm to hit the city in 50 years.

David Kline, associate director of UB Global and a former missionary in Macau, writes:

“As we watch the US deal with a big storm, our brothers in sisters in Hong Kong and Macau have an even bigger storm heading their way. Please pray not only for their safety, but also for opportunity that God can make himself known in the region.”

He said he had talked Friday morning with Jenaya Bonner, one of our missionaries in Macau. “She has stocked up on water and resources (the last storm knocked out power and water for 4 days). She has also been praying for opportunities to serve the people of Macau through this storm. Let us join her in praying!”

During your Sunday morning service, perhaps your church could remember in prayer the people of Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangdong Province, and particularly the United Brethren members and missionaries in those places.

Nancy Ngele, a former United Brethren missionary in Sierra Leone, is offering her home, at a very reasonable price, to someone who has served as a United Brethren pastor or missionary for at least eight years and is ready for retirement. The home is located on the Carson City Christian Camping Center in Central Michigan.

This house has two bedrooms upstairs and a ground level room that can be used for a master bedroom or a family room with a Franklin stove and gas furnace. One bathroom has a vintage tub, and another that is handicap accessible, has a step-in shower. Appliances include electric washer and dishwasher, gas water heater, dryer and a new gas wall furnace in the kitchen. Large storage drawers and enclosed shelving are built in, along with handy kitchen cupboards. An attached garage has room for one car and lots of storage or space for a workshop. A free-standing shed at the back of the house and garage is available for additional storage. Green, steel roofs cover the house, garage, and shed. The house might also be considered for a summer cottage or hunting lodge.

For further information, call Nancy at 989-235-4448.

Roger and Marilyn Reeck (right), UB endorsed missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, spent much of June in Guinea Bissau, a West African country. Roger consults with groups working on Bible translations. They explain:

“Roger worked with the two groups that he was scheduled to consult for (the Sonike and Felupe) and was even able to spend five days with a third one (Kriol) checking the book of Ruth. The Sonike/Sarakule people group are Muslim. One of the problems the team ran into during the two weeks of checking is that it coincided with the Muslim festival Ramadan. The three Sonike translators had to fast every day during that period. The work continued on even when at times they felt weak and had a hard time concentrating.”

Marilyn spent time with a team working with a people that that is almost completely Muslim.

Marilyn returned to Honduras in time for the yearly Garifuna conference to which people come from all over Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and from various of the Garifuna churches in the US. This year they dedicated a whole afternoon to celebrating the Garifuna Bible (the Reecks were instrumental in its translation). A Garifuna women’s group sang a song about the Bible and lifted it up high.

Church safety has become an issue of increasing interest to pastors and laypersons. Where do you start? Brotherhood Mutual, which provides insurance to a large number of United Brethren churches, posted ten simple, “do it today” actions which churches can implement almost immediately. You can read them here. You’ll also find resources for going further to ensure a safe environment for your congregation, including their “Church Safety & Security Guidebook.”

Erika and Milton Pacheco after arriving in Thailand.

Erika and Milton Pacheco after arriving in Thailand.

As of April 29, the Thailand team is complete. After more than 50 hours of travel from Honduras to Thailand, Erika and Milton Pacheco arrived in Chiang Rai to begin their first term of missionary service. There they were greeted by the rest of the team–Julie, Lai, Paula, and the Glunt family. Despite the lengthy trip, Milton and Erika don’t look too bad in this selfie which they took after successfully passing through immigration in Bangkok.