Pastor César Obregón

We were shocked to learn of the murder of Pastor César Obregón, one of the United Brethren pastors in Guatemala. Witnesses claim a local sorcerer/witch-doctor brutally attacked him with a machete. He died soon after from his wounds.

Pastor Obregón had served as a church planter since our earliest days in Guatemala, which go back to 2000. He had planted numerous churches. The most recent was located in San Antonio, Suchitepequez, a three-hour drive from the capital of Guatemala City. There, the congregation met on a property they had purchased, under a bamboo-framed structure covered with a heavy mill black plastic. People were hearing the Gospel and were being saved.

Pastor Obregón left behind a wife, children, grandchildren, and a very new congregation.

Jeff Bleijerveld, executive director of UB Global, writes, “Pray for our Guatemalan brothers and sisters as they mourn his loss and seek to reconcile what took place in a country that is overwhelmingly Christian. Indeed, darkness often rages against the church where its light shines the brightest. However, the victory is ours because the battle has already been won, and our dear brother César has gone on to receive his reward. Pray that even this tragic event might be transformed for God’s glory, and that many would come to know Christ as Lord and Savior.”

Rev. Armando Lopez (right), national leader of Nicaragua Conference, provided the following update on his country’s ongoing national crisis.

The economic situation has deteriorated rapidly, with immediate consequences for our churches, which are struggling to support themselves. As an example, in one church with an average number of attendees, only 20 Cordobas ($0.59) was collected, which is very rare. I tell you this because [I am] very concerned about the situation and the crisis that we have been experiencing over the last year. We still do not know how it will end.

The closure of many companies and the decline in exports has forced the dismissal of many people, including many church members. There is also been an increase in electricity and water rates, and people and churches have to pay more for these services. In addition, new tax reform was passed that forces companies and citizens to pay more taxes to cover the federal budget.

We had been using much of our financial resources to legalize church properties that were never officially registered. We managed to legalize three, but the problem with legalizing them is that doing so exposed old debts to be collected for garbage collection, property improvements, and property taxes. We did not have the money needed to pay all these debts, so we are paying in installments for two of the churches. This has been a huge challenge for the conference that is not currently generating income.

We also have six pastors who are sick with Dengue Fever. These are pastors for small rural churches and have not been able to receive treatment. I’m worried for them as they cannot afford medicines. Without further ado, I am thanking you in advance for anything you can do for this conference. Bishop Armando Jose Lopez – UBIC Nicaragua.

The 2019 US National Conference met July 17-20 at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. About 700 persons attended. The theme “Let’s Pray!” was developed through messages by Daniel Henderson and various workshops. In addition, special displays, printed materials, and a prayer room guided people in praying for United Brethren churches, ministers, missionaries, and ministries around the world.

Business Meeting
The business meeting on Thursday morning, July 18, began at 8:30 and concluded at 1:00 pm.

The delegates voted on seven proposals for revising the United Brethren Discipline. Most were minor or editorial, nothing substantive. Five passed by a voice vote without any discussion. Another passed with one amendment and no discussion.

Then there was Proposal 2. This one had been percolating for several years. It passed by a vote of 183-126, but only after a lengthy (and commendably civil) discussion.

When it comes to drinking alcohol, the United Brethren standard has been, and continues to be, abstention. From 1849 until 2005, all United Brethren members were prohibited from consuming alcohol, period. Total abstention was required.

The stand was changed in 2005 for laypersons. The new wording read, “We urge all of our members to avoid using alcoholic beverages.” The key word was “urge.” We would continue desiring and promoting abstention, but wouldn’t require it.

Except for licensed United Brethren ministers. For them, the total abstention requirement remained, for both alcohol and tobacco. While laypersons were “urged” to not smoke or drink, ministers were prohibited from doing either. That prohibition came in the chapter on “The Ministry”:

“Ministers are not permitted to use tobacco, beverage alcohol, and illicit drugs, or to engage in any immoral conduct, and their marriage relationships must be in harmony with the teachings of Scripture as defined in the Discipline.”

In 2015, a proposal came to remove that sentence. However, it hit the floor at the end of the day, and other issues had consumed the alotted time, so the proposal was tabled…which in effect killed it. But the same basic proposal returned in 2019.

The discussion lasted an hour, with 14 people speaking against removing the prohibition, 12 speaking in favor of removing it, and another six speaking in general to the proposal. Everyone who wanted to speak got a chance (with a three-minute time limit).

Bishop Todd Fetters then called for a ballot vote. The proposal passed by a significant margin. Of the 309 persons who voted, 59% voted to change the stand on alcohol and tobacco as it applied to ministers. Ministers would now be held to the same requirements as all other members, as outlined in ¶143.

On July 25, Bishop Fetters sent a letter to all UB licensed ministers explaining the results. Concerning the use of alcohol and tobacco, he wrote:

“Simply put, both behaviors are permitted, but not endorsed. Members are given freedom to choose to use alcohol and tobacco, but our desire is that members choose to abstain. The strength of the statements is in the fact that members are urged to avoid (alcohol) and urged to abstain (tobacco). Furthermore, our leaders are urged to teach about the hazards of both alcohol and tobacco, while pointing to the Holy Spirit as a Deliverer for those who are controlled by the substances.

“I commend you to navigate your freedom in Christ through the counsel of the Scriptures, the indwelling guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the encouraging accountability of the church, which includes your ministry peers.”

L-r: Bishop Todd Fetters, assistant chairperson Gary Dilley, and recording secretary Rocky Spear.

Cluster Chapter
The only other Discipline change worth mentioning regards the chapter “Connections,” which is now titled “Clusters.” The cluster system was adopted in 2005, and had since evolved significantly away from how it was described in the Discipline. In particular, the original vision involved a highly decentralized approach, but that never really took hold. Instead, the clusters became centralized under the Office of the Bishop.

We needed to align the Discipline with actual practice. So, the existing chapter was replaced with a greatly shortened chapter which included five points about clusters, four points about cluster leaders, and a paragraph about associations. You can read it here.

Election of ELT Members
The Executive Leadership Team meets twice a year to handle business between sessions of the US National Conference. It consists of 12 persons–three from each region, half being clergy and half laypersons.

Every two years, the US National Conference elects four members to four-year terms, and then the bishop appoints another four persons to two-year terms. They join the four members elected by the previous National Conference.

The four persons elected this year were:

  • West District: Tomi Cardin, a layperson from Anchor UB church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • North District: Mark Wilson, senior pastor of Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.).
  • Central District: Andy Sikora, senior pastor of Renew Communities (Berea, Ohio).
  • East District: Janis Creason, a layperson from Devonshire UB church (Harrisburg, Pa.).

Interestingly, these were the same persons Bishop Todd Fetters had appointed to the 2015-2017 and 2017-2019 ELTs. They will now serve four-year terms, instead of just two-year terms.

At this point, Bishop Fetters is still working on determining the four persons to appoint to the 2019-2021 ELT.

Four Ordinations
Four persons were ordained during the closing service on Saturday morning:

  • Daniel Friend, Director of Music at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • Christopher Little V, associate pastor of Devonshire UB church (Harrisburg, Pa.).
  • Joshua McKeown, senior pastor of Faith UB church (Port Orange, Fla.).
  • Matthew McKeown, associate pastor of First UB church (Holly Hill, Fla.).

An article on provides more information about these men and a number of photos.

2019-2021 UB Discipline
The Discipline has been updated with the various changes made by the National Conference. You can view it online and download a PDF copy.

Bishop Todd Fetters speaking on Saturday morning to close the 2019 US National Conference.

Margaret Maybee passed away July 26. Now comes this news about her husband, Rev. Milan Maybee. It was posted on Facebook by son Paul Maybee:

“Dear friends, our family is experiencing the work of God in ways we could have never imagined. We are sad to bring this news, but also thankful and confident that our God is in control, and His timing and provision is always perfect.

“Dad received the news yesterday that he has stage 4 cancer in his bones which has been causing his intense pain. The cancer is aggressive and treatments are not really an option. Hospice came in today and has set Dad up for in-home care. He is in great spirits and is surrounded by family. He is quite exhausted at the moment as it has been a very intense couple weeks.

“We are requesting no visitors at this time so that he can rest and process all that has transpired. We are so thankful for the time we all had with Dad at Mom’s celebration. We were completely overwhelmed as a family by the love from so many people.

“We don’t know how long we have with Dad, but we are doing everything we can to care for him in every way. We will continue to post updates as things progress. Again, thank you all for your prayers, your care, and concern for both of our parents. We have all felt it.”

Here is the address for Rev. Milan Maybee:

Milan Maybee
101 Burt Avenue
Jackson MI 49201

Margaret Maybee

Margaret Louise Maybee, 84, passed away Friday, July 26, 2019, at Henry Ford Allegiance Hospice Home. She was surrounded by her loving family.

Ever since she was a little girl, her life’s mission was to be a pastor’s wife. That life mission became a reality when Margaret married the love of her life, Milan Maybee, on June 26, 1954, in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. She loved being a wife, mother, grandmother, church secretary, organist, pianist, worship director, and Sunday school teacher. She was an active member of the Heart O’Lakes United Brethren Church (Brooklyn, Mich.) and Eden UB church (Mason, Mich.). Margaret was also a dedicated employee of Borek Jennings Funeral Homes for many years. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and loved her.

Margaret is survived by her husband of 65 years, Rev. Milan Maybee, three children, seven grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

Margaret’s family and friends will gather Sunday, July 28, 2019, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Heart O’ the Lakes United Brethren Church (7031 Jefferson Rd., Brooklyn) where her Service of Remembrance will be held at 5:00 pm. Pastor Tim Flickinger and Pastor Cyle Young will officiate. Memorial contributions are suggested to Heart O’ the Lakes: Missions or Yucatan Blessing House.

You can view her online obituary and leave a message of comfort for the family here.

Cards for Milan Maybee can be sent to:

Milan G. Maybee
101 Burt Ave.
Jackson, MI 49201

Bishop Todd Fetters (left) with the persons participating in the ordination services.

Rev. Chuck McKeown (right) praying for the persons being ordained, including (on the left) Julie and Joshua McKeown.

Daniel and Michelle Friend kneeling for the laying on of hands.

Dan Friend receiving a Bible from Bishop Todd Fetters.

Christopher and Elizabeth Little kneeling for the laying on of hands.

Christopher Little V receiving a Bible from Bishop Todd Fetters.

Joshua and Julie McKeown kneeling for the laying on of hands.

Matthew and Kara McKeown kneeling for the laying on of hands.

Matt McKeown received a Bible from Bishop Todd Fetters, and his father, Chuck, looks on.

Four persons were ordained during the recent US National Conference in Bowling Green, Ohio. The service occurred on Saturday morning, July 20.

Bishop Todd Fetters conducted the four ceremonies, along with Rev. Jim Bolich, director of Ministerial Licensing and Ordination. They were assisted by two ordained elders chosen by the person being ordained.

Christopher Little V is associate pastor of Devonshire UB church in Harrisburg, Pa. This fall he will begin planting what will be called the United House Church Network in Harrisburg. Assisting were Rev. Derek Thrush, senior pastor of Devonshire Church, and Dr. Michael Dittman, National Ministries director for the US National Conference.

Daniel L. Friend is Director of Music at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. He has served at Emmanuel since 2002. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Huntington University. Assisting were Rev. Craig Mickey, a staff minister at Emmanuel, and Rev. Jason Holliday, a former Emmanuel staffperson who is now senior pastor of Living Grace UB church in Fort Wayne.

Matthew T. McKeown is associate pastor of First UB church in Holly Hill, Fla. He has served there since 1998. His brother Joshua McKeown has been senior pastor of Faith UB church in Port Orange, Fla., since August 2017.

Assisting in both ordinations was their father, Rev. Chuck McKeown, who is senior pastor of First UB. Rev. Brent Liechty, senior pastor of Rising Hope UB church (Shippensburg, Pa.) also assisted in Matt’s ordination. Rev. Don Ross, senior pastor of Victory Chapel UB church (Liberty Center, Ohio), assisted in Joshua’s ordination.

Rev. Taylor Sharp, a retired United Brethren pastor and ordained minister, passed away July 14, 2019, at his residence in Nashville, Ill. He was 90 years old.

Sharp graduated from Huntington University in 1953 with a degree in Sociology, and graduated from the Huntington University seminary in 1956 with a Master of Divinity. He pastored United Brethren churches in Lakewood and Modesto, Calif., 1956-1965. He was ordained in 1957.

From 1967-1975, Sharp served as a chaplain in the US Army (under the NAE Commission on Chaplains). He then became associate pastor of Morning Star UB church (Kokomo, Ind.), and later senior pastor of Crestview UB church (Lafayette, Ind.). He retired in 1989, and retained membership at College Park UB church (Huntington, Ind.).

Sharp is survived by his wife, Donna. They were married in 1952 and, in June of this year, celebrated 67 years of marriage.

The funeral was held July 19 in Nashville, Ill., with son Pastor Scott Sharp officiating.

Your church should bring a busload or car caravan of people to a service at the upcoming US National Conference. Or to several services.

The evening services, and the closing service on Saturday morning, are open for anyone to attend. You don’t need to have registered for the conference. Come join the nearly 700 UBs who have registered, and let’s fill the place!

The convention is July 17-20. The evening services start at 6:30. Daniel Henderson will speak Wednesday and Thursday nights on prayer, which will be a continuing emphasis for Bishop Todd Fetters; it would be great if you could. Friday night is Missions Night, with David Datema speaking. Bishop Todd Fetters will speak on Saturday morning at 9:00 am, presenting some of his vision for the denomination.

Organize a road trip with some of your fellow parishioners. We’d love to see you there!

The conference will be held at Bowling Green State University in the Bowen student union center.

The 6th Annual Marriage Retreat for United Brethren Pastoral Couples will be held August 12-14, 2019, at Rhodes Grove Camp & Conference Center in Chambersburg, Pa.

Instead of our usual “Marriage Retreat,” this year’s event is more of a “Spiritual Retreat.” Plan to get away for a few days with other pastoral couples, retreat from the daily grind of ministry, and reconnect spiritually.

There is no cost. This three-day, two-night retreat is sponsored in full by the United Brethren National Office, the United Brethren Association for Church Development, and Rhodes Grove Camp.

This retreat is reserved for pastors and spouses serving in United Brethren in Christ churches.

The retreat this year will be guided by Mike Dean, pastor of Living Waters UB church in Winchester, Va.

Register using this PDF form.

We’re a month away from the start of the US National Conference. Registration is now up to around 640! There’s still time to register. Go here for complete information.

Thursday Morning Business Session

Various reports have been posted in PDF format on the UB website, so delegates can read and download them. These include the proposals for revising the Discipline, reports from denominational officials, and the Nominating Committee report.


Three rounds of workshops will be held on Friday morning from 9:00 to noon. Each workshop will be 45 minutes long. The workshops are now listed on the website.