The United Brethren App is now available for the Kindle. Earlier this summer, it was made available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.

When you launch the app, it opens up to the news feed from UBCentral.org. You can see the latest UB news directly on your mobile device.

You’ll also find many other resources:

  • Information about the UB church–beliefs, history, leadership.
  • The complete UB Discipline and Pastoral Ministry Handbook.
  • Info on each country which has UB churches.
  • Upcoming UB events.
  • Lots of information for ministers–licenses, education, assignment process, clergy finances.
  • A few videos and podcasts.
  • Links to various UB-related websites.

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tabernacle-land1000

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

You’re looking at sacred ground. I know, it looks like just a vacant field, which it is. Now. But a large white tabernacle once filled that space, and oh, the memories.

For 90 years, starting in 1917, the tabernacle was the centerpiece of Rhodes Grove Camp, the United Brethren camp in Chambersburg, Pa. The tabernacle eventually became unusable, structurally unsound, beyond repair, and was torn down in 2006. But in its day, thousands and THOUSANDS of children, and adults, walked the long aisles to the front of the tabernacle, knelt at the altar, and committed their lives to Christ. Probably hundreds of them—it’s impossible to know—became pastors and missionaries.

I was one of those children. It was June 1966, during Junior Camp, just after my 4th grade year. I walked probably eight rows to the front, and knelt across from a counselor, who happened to be my dad.

“Do you know what you’re doing, Steve?” he asked.

“I think so,” I told him.

Dad explained a few things, and then prayed with me, his firstborn.

Rev. Burton Lange was the evangelist. A few years ago, when I reminded him that he was preaching the night I was saved, he told me, quite correctly, “With your background, if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else.” To be quite honest, I’m not sure anything Burt Lange said did the trick. I think it was just my time. I was ready.

Dozens of other kids made commitments to Christ that week—just that one week. Several more camps followed that summer. Multiply by 90 years. Imagine.

Forty-five minutes away is Gettysburg, a battlefield dotted with monuments to what happened there—fierce firefights, acts of heroism, turning points, valiant stands. Gettysburg is one of my favorite places. Been there many times. It’s pretty, but nothing particularly unusual—regular rolling countryside. But something epic occurred there.

Perhaps a monument should be erected in that field, where the tabernacle once stood. On this ground, children, men, and women wrestled mightily with God’s pull on their lives. On this ground, decisions were made which totally changed the trajectory of lives, families, careers, churches. On this ground, epic battles occurred between Good and Evil, and the Good Guys usually won. On this ground, God touched hearts—over and over and over—and people responded, “Yes, Lord.”

Kids still find Christ at Rhodes Grove, of course. Salvation doesn’t require a tabernacle. When God speaks, when He reaches out and touches your heart, you remember it, whether you’re in a historic tabernacle or sitting in a car. Hallowed grounds are being created elsewhere at Rhodes Grove, and those places will one day deserve monuments of their own.

But my heart is in that vacant field. I’m at Rhodes Grove now, attending a Pastors Summit. My room overlooks that field. And I am remembering.

Dave (left) and Scott Stephens.

Dave (left) and Scott Stephens.

Dave Stephens served 25.5 years as director of Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Dave, an ordained United Brethren minister and former UB pastor, stepped down in January 2014. Taking his place is son Scott Stephens, who has served the camp many years as Program Director.

This United Brethren camp began in the 1970s when several conferences merged in the new Central Conference and decided to build a brand new camp for their constituents in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. A contest was held to name the camp. “Cotubic” uses the first letter of each word in “Church of the United Brethren in Christ.”

Camp Cotubic, along with the other United Brethren camps (and with our blessing), went independent in 2005 when the conferences were disbanded.

fetters_toddTodd Fetters (right), Director of National Ministries

As a pastor, I regularly informed my congregations of my prayer concerns by using a variety of lists. Eventually, I found a resource by Jim Nicodem, in his book, “Prayer Coach,” that became my favorite. His list accurately reflected the true desire of my heart as a spiritual leader.

These seven petitions work nicely as a weekly prayer guide. I encourage you to use it as you pray for your pastor.

Day 1: That our pastors would be honored, affirmed, encouraged, and respected.
Discouragement is a reality for many pastors and their spouses. The reasons are as varied as the normal stuff of everyday life. Fatigue. Lack of success. Unrealistic expectations. Sin. Unrealized vision. Loss. Financial pressures. Spiritual doubt. Loneliness. Clearly, pastors and their spouses do a good work, but there is always the danger of them growing weary in doing good.

Day 2: That our pastors would be protected from focused attacks of Satan, stay far from sin, and walk in obedience to God’s Word.
Satan is a real threat. Pastors are well aware of their brokenness and how vulnerable they are to satanic temptation. The good ones battle hard to resist temptation, because they know the consequences can extend beyond themselves to those they lead.

Day 3: That God would give our pastors wisdom, patience, perseverance, and grace in facing people-problems, and that those they lead would be loyal, understanding, and supportive.
Relationship is everything. We want our congregations and pastors to truly care for one another, speak well of one another, and have mutual affection one for the other.

Day 4: That our pastors’ marriages and parenting would be God-pleasing and wise.
Congregations struggle when a pastor’s marriage suffers. Divorce can deflate and divide a congregation. Rebellious children can cause frustration and doubt in a pastor’s leadership. We want our clergy couples to love and enjoy each other. We want our pastors’ families to be havens of honor and hope.

Day 5: That our pastors, in preparation for teaching God’s Word, would listen to God’s voice, have their time for study protected, be kept from theological error, personally apply the truth, and be filled with God’s Spirit.
Modeling the Way is as important as preaching the Word. Good pastors regularly connect with God through the Word they study, preach, and apply to themselves. In the process, they desperately pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.

Day 6: That our pastors would consistently practice important disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines are critical for maintaining a connection with the Holy Spirit. Pastors make time to physically, emotionally, and mentally engage the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, study, confession, solitude, fasting, etc.

Day 7: That our pastors would be zealous for the church and compelling in promoting its mission.
The Kingdom is the pastor’s God-given big picture. They have an inner drive to see the agenda, priorities, and values of God’s Kingdom realized in their own lives, their churches, their communities, and throughout the world. For them, it’s not just about growing a big church. It’s about participating with God as He grows His Kingdom.

These seven prayer requests compose a holistic picture of your pastor’s heart. It reveals the heart attitude through which God seems to work. So, now that you’ve gained a glimpse inside the mind of the pastor, offer to God an informed prayer on your pastor’s behalf, right now. Then, start watching for God to effectively grow His Kingdom.

fetters_toddTodd Fetters (right), Director of National Ministries

At the national office, we pray regularly for our pastors. We contact pastors ahead of time, letting them know the day when we will pray for them. Because we believe that informed intercession is effective intercession, we ask them to share with us their specific prayer concerns.

In two postings, I will give suggestions to help you pray regularly for your pastor. Today’s post is designed to help you get inside the mind of a pastor. Tomorrow, I will list seven suggestions for getting to the heart of a pastor.

I feel very comfortable taking you inside the mind of a pastor. I’ve been around pastors my entire life. I grew up in a pastor’s home. My two brothers have been pastors. I spent 25 years in pastoral ministry. I’ve helped churches find new pastors. I’ve led clusters for pastors. And now, as National Ministries director, I interact daily with pastors.

Here are four common characteristics I’ve experienced and observed in the good pastors.

1. Humility
The good ones are humbled every time they think of God’s call. They instinctively imitate Saint Paul who said, “How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him” (1 Timothy 1:12). Typically, gratitude pours out of the mouths of men and women who try to fathom why God trusts them with such a tremendous responsibility.

2. Under-Shepherds
The good ones embrace their identities as “under-shepherds” who tend, feed, and care for the Good Shepherd’s flock. They willingly follow Saint Peter’s charge to elders, “Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example. And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

3. Enemy Threat
The good ones are bravely aware that a real enemy, Satan, targets them. They take seriously Peter’s admonition, “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

4. Desire Prayer
The good ones know the value of having others pray for them. And like Saint Paul who asked without hesitation, “And pray for me, too” (Ephesians 6:19), they ask others for it too.

I’m certain the psyche that I’ve just described applies equally to the entire leadership constituency of the United Brethren Church. But, since my goal here is to help you pray in an informed and effective way for pastors, it gives me the opportunity to speak specifically to what I know for certain goes on in the minds of good pastors.

Bishop Phil Whipple and Global Ministries director Jeff Bleijerveld are on their way to California. They’ll be at the UB church in Pixley, Calif., this Sunday (that’s the only UB church in California). Then they’ll travel to Mexico to visit the UB churches there, accompanied by Denis Casco, Bishop of Mexico Conference.

When you submit a ministerial or local church report, you should automatically receive, by email, a copy of the report.

However, this function wasn’t working with the local church report. It’s fixed now. So if you previously submitted a local church report and want a copy, contact Cathy Reich, administrative assistant to Bishop Phil Whipple, and she’ll send you a copy of the one you submitted.

Gary Gates (right), director of Ministerial Licensing, will represent the United Brethren denomination in January at a meeting of the Denominational Prayer Leaders Network. He’ll report on the prayer emphases in the United Brethren Church.

Gary prepared a simple survey. He would greatly appreciate it if you’d take a few minutes to give some of your feedback. You can use this survey form.

Thanks!

steve-jonesSteve Jones was elected on Tuesday, July 16, as the new president of the Missionary Church USA. Jones has been a church planter, pastor, and more recently, district superintendent in the Missionary Church.

The United Brethren denomination has had much affinity with the Missionary Church over the years. We occasionally trade pastors, and our ministers and laypersons have been trained at each others’ colleges.

The Missionary Church USA is headquartered in Fort Wayne, Ind. Today (July 18) they conclude their biennial national conference, using the same facility we used just two weeks ago–the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne.

Brian Magnus (right), Chairman of the General Conference

At the close of the 51st General Conference, the delegates and observers were excused and the International Executive Committee (IEC) met. This group consists of the bishop or general superintendent of each United Brethren national conference.

The meeting included several items:

1. We evaluated the General Conference and its current format. It was agreed that the 51st General Conference was a success and that the format is valuable and worth continuing. It was felt that the camaraderie, inspiration, and encouragement are worth keeping

2. We discussed some large issues in multiple national conferences, including the stationing of pastors who have been divorced and the issue of homosexuality in the church. The IEC agreed unanimously that no person in an active homosexual relationship could be a pastor in any United Brethren church around the world.

3. We agreed that future General Conferences will need to be held in locations where it is cost effective, and where delegates from various countries have a greater likelihood of being admitted into the country. Jamaica is one country that would meet these criteria.

4. At the end of the IEC meeting, Brian Magnus, Bishop of the United Brethren Church in Canada, was elected to anther term as chairman of the IEC. Since the chairman is also the chair of the next General Conference, this term goes until the election of the next chairman after the next General Conference. Brian has chaired the IEC since it was formed in 2002.