John Richardson

Rev. John E. Richardson, 87, passed away February 24, 2021, in Rockford, Ohio. He was an ordained United Brethren minister who had pastored various churches in the Van Wert area.

Richardson was born in Flint, Mich., in 1934 and became a journeyman tool-and-die maker. He graduated in 1954 from Fort Wayne Bible college and was ordained by the Missionary Church in 1962. In 1978 he received a masters degree from the Huntington University Graduate School of Christian Ministries.

Richardson’s career including pastoring four United Brethren churches: Etna Avenue (now New Hope) in Huntington, Ind.; Wren and Greenbriar, on a circuit outside of Van Wert, Ohio; and the UB church in Elgin, Ohio.

He was preceded in death by Peggy, his wife of 54 years, and Mary, his wife of 11 years.

Visitation: 1-4 p.m. Monday, March 1, 2021.
Funeral: 4 p.m. Monday, March 1, 2021.
Location: Cowan & Son Funeral Home, 616 S. Washington St., Van Wert, Ohio 45891

View the online obituary.

Rev. Earl D. Peter (right), 95, a retired United Brethren minister, passed away February 18 in Fayetteville, Pa.

He grew up in Biglerville, Pa., and in 1947 served as a sergeant in the US Army Air Corps. He graduated in 1957 from Huntington University, and from the HU seminary in 1958. He was ordained in 1958.

Peters was a United Brethren pastor for 23 years, and served on many study committees for Pennsylvania Conference and at the denominational level. He was elected as a delegate to General Conference six times, and also served on the Church Ministries board. Within Pennsylvania Conference, he served on the Piney Mountain Home board for 23 years, and was chairman for 18 years.

His wife, Melva Peters, passed away in August 2020.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Dugan Funeral Home in Shippensburg, Pa. Private services will be held at the discretion of the family.

Rev. Glenn Flint (right), a former United Brethren minister, passed away Thursday, February 18, 2021, after a long struggle with blood cancer (Multiple Myeloma). He was 59 years old. Glenn is survived by his wife, Jean, whom he married in 1982, and their two married daughters.

Glenn grew up in the Munson UB church of Waldron, Mich. He graduated from the Huntington University Graduate School of Christian Ministries in 1986 and was ordained that year as a UB minister. He served in ministry at two UB churches in the former Michindoh Conference before joining the staff of Emmanuel UB church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) in the early 1990s as the worship pastor. He served 2000-2002 as associate pastor of Anchor UB in Fort Wayne, and since 2002 has been Director of Music & Worship Ministries at Fairview Missionary Church in Angola, Ind.

Glenn’s brother, Steve, is Pastor of Worship and Care at King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa.

Rev. Russ and Nellie Birdsall

Rev. Russell Birdsall, 93, passed away Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at his home in Huntington, Ind. He was a United Brethren missionary in Sierra Leone, Dean of Students at Huntington University, a UB pastor in Huntington, fulltime superintendent of Central Conference, short-term UB missionary in Macau for a number of terms…and beloved by everyone who knew him.

A funeral service will be at 11 am Saturday, February 13, at College Park UB church in Huntington, Ind. Dr. Ray Seilhamer will officiate. Visitation will be available 3-7pm on Friday, February 12, at the Bailey-Love Mortuary in Huntington (35 West Park Drive).

Russ grew up in a United Brethren preacher’s home, a son of Rev. Stanley Birdsall. He and Nellie, his wife of nearly 70 years, met at Huntington University and were married in 1951. He graduated from HU in 1953, and was ordained in 1957 after graduating from the HU seminary.

On September 4, 1957, Russ, Nellie, and their young daughter, Sharon, boarded a ship for Sierra Leone, where they served as UB missionaries for the next 11 years.

In July 1968, the family returned to Huntington at the request of Dr. DeWitt Baker, another former Sierra Leone missionary, so Russ could become dean of students. He did that until 1976, followed by two years as director of church relations for the college.

In 1979, Russ began ten years as pastor of New Hope UB church in Huntington, Ind., followed by three years, 1990-1993, as fulltime superintendent of Central Conference.

Between 1994 and 2006, Russ and Nellie served seven times in Macau as short-term missionaries, always going at their own expense. They taught in the English Language Program, conducted Bible studies, and provided pastoral care for the other missionaries.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Bailey-Love Mortuary in Huntington.

Rev. James C Mack, 63, passed away January 17 in Chambersburg, Pa. He was a United Brethren minister in Pennsylvania for many years, including senior pastor at Pleasant Hill UB in Greencastle 1992-2001, followed by staff roles at Ebenezer UB in Greencastle through 2014. He is survived by his wife, Faith, and three children.

Graveside services were held January 20, with Dr. Anthony Blair officiating. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, January 30, at The Life Center, 35 N. Carlisle St., Greencastle, Pa. Read the online obituary here.

Rev. Irvin T. Shultz

Rev. Irvin T. Shultz, 91, passed away December 20, 2020. He grew up in West Virginia, served as a medic in the US Army in Korea, and worked in public education before entering the ministry. He served 35 years as a pastor, including 13 years at Fountain UB (Keyser, W. Va.), five years at the UB church in Rohresville, Md., and eight years at Blue Rock UB in Waynesboro, Pa. He is survived by his wife, Janet, whom he married in 1954. There will be no public viewing or services at this time.

Phil and Sandy Whipple

Rev. Phil Whipple, who served as bishop of the US National Conference 2009-2015, passed away around 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 15. He was a victim of Covid-19. Phil was admitted to the hospital on November 2, and never left. He was placed on a ventilator on November 12, and died three days later.

Bishop Todd Fetters came to the United Brethren office in 2013 to fill a new position created by Bishop Whipple, that of Director of National Ministries. They worked closely together for the next two years, and Todd succeeded Phil as bishop in 2015.

“Those of us who served with Phil are saddened by the news of his passing,” said Bishop Fetters. “He gave each of us an opportunity to serve the Lord through the Church of the United Brethren in Christ with our unique gifts, abilities, and personalities. In this sudden loss of our brother and friend, our solace is found in the words of Psalm 116:15, ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones.’ Phil is today where he has always been, ‘in Christ.’”

Phil Whipple was born in 1957 in Illinois, and grew up in the Church of the Nazarene. He cited March 1974 as the date of his conversion.

Phil graduated from Liberty University and later from the Huntington University Graduate School. He began his ministry in 1980 at a non-UB church in Illinois, followed by five years, 1984-1989, pastoring a Wesleyan church in Saranac, Mich.

In 1990 he joined the staff of the Richfield Road UB church in Flint, Mich., as an associate pastor, where he worked under the leadership of senior pastor Lester Smith. A year later, he was assigned as senior pastor of Pleasant Valley UB church in Lake Odessa, Mich, where he served seven years.

In 1998 he began ten years as pastor of Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich. Under Phil’s leadership, the attendance grew from 200 to over 500, and they baptized 130 people. Phil was serving at Colwood when elected bishop in 2009. He succeeded Bishop Ron Ramsey, who served four years in that role.

Some highlights from Bishop Phil Whipple’s six years as bishop:

  • He created the part-time position of Director of Ministerial Licensing, which has greatly improved out efforts in guiding ministers to their next step in the licensing process (Jim Bolich now fills that role).
  • Various “summits” for UB ministers were begun, held in the year between national conferences. Three summits per year, based on church attendance, were held for senior pastors and their spouses. Other summits were organized for associate staff, worship ministers, and youth ministers.
  • He was part of the search process which brought Dr. Sherilyn Emberton to Huntington University as president in 2013.
  • We developed the current logo for the US National Conference.
  • Todd Fetters was hired as Director of National Ministries, a new position (now held by Dr. Mike Dittman).
  • He was part of the 2010 and 2013 General Conferences, in Honduras and Canada respectively.

Phil and his wife, Sandy, were married in 1979, and this past summer celebrated 41 years of marriage. They have two children, Mike and Josh, both of whom serve in ministry. When he was elected bishop in 2009, Josh was worship pastor at Mongul UB church (Shippensburg, Pa.) and Mike was the worship pastor at Colwood.

In 2015, Phil became pastor of Trinity Missionary Church in Yale, Mich. (in the thumb area). Mike Whipple announced his father’s death to the church, writing: “At 6 pm this evening my dad, Pastor Phil, slipped into Jesus’ arms. We were told he left this earth very peacefully, and we were so thankful for that news. Even though this is a time of mourning and we feel this pain deeply, we know Pastor Phil is meeting with Jesus now. What a joy that is. I want to thank you all for your kindness and your support over these last few weeks. You have all showed me what the church is capable of, and I am very grateful to have been able to walk through this with such a loving church body.”

We, too, are grateful that the Whipple family has been surrounded by a loving church family. Let’s join them with our own prayers for Sandy, and for the families of Josh and Mike, as they grieve the loss of a husband, father, and grandfather, while also celebrating a life well lived.

Rev. Robert “Bob” Miller, a United Brethren pastor for over 40 years, passed away on November 12, 2020, in Bryan, Ohio.

Bob was born in New Castle, Pa., in 1933, and went on to graduate from Huntington University in 1955, and from the HU seminary in 1958. He was ordained in 1959. He pastored about eight different churches in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. He also served many years as Michindoh Conference treasurer, and was employed 1976-1990 at Michindoh Ministries Camp and Conference Center. Most recently, he was pastor 1990-1998 of South Scipio UB church in Harlan, Ind.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, there will be a private burial for the family with a memorial service at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Huntington University in Huntington, Ind.