Rev. Ernest Belella, an ordained United Brethren minister, passed away May 15, 2020, at age 94.

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, May 30, at the Oakwood Cemetery in Stryker, Ohio. Social distancing will be recommended. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ernie’s name to the Stryker United Brethren Church.

The UB Global board appointed Frank Y (right) as acting director of UB Global from June 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. This follows the upcoming departure of Rev. Jeff Bleijerveld, who has been the director since 2008. Jeff resigned effective May 31, 2020.

Frank has served as an associate director of UB Global since 2011. His niche on the UB Global team has focused around being the point person for work in two fields, supervising overseas staff, and engaging with domestic churches.

Frank and his wife are members of Emmanuel Community UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind., and have two young children.

Jeff Bleijerveld has submitted his resignation as executive director of UB Global, effective May 31, 2020. He has served in that role for 12 years. He submitted his resignation to the UB Global board on April 28, and on April 30 informed our missionaries and international partners of his decision. He remarked that, though coming from outside of United Brethren circles, “From the very start, I was made to feel a part of the United Brethren in Christ.” However, he and his wife, Charlene, have recently sensed God moving them in a new direction.

UB Global is the joint missions agency of the UB churches in the United States and Canada. Mark Wallace, chairperson of the UB Global board, wrote, “Jeff has served UB Global well for the past 12 years, and we wish to honor and celebrate the work that has been accomplished.”

On March 3, 2008, Jeff was appointed director of what was then called Global Ministries. At that point, he had been an ordained minister in the Missionary Church for 23 years, had pastored two churches in Ontario, had served eight years as a missionary in Spain, and since 2001 had been assistant director of World Partners USA, the Missionary Church’s international arm.

Under Jeff’s leadership, UB Global continued to expand its worldwide ministry. They walked alongside Sierra Leone Conference during the Ebola epidemic, and then launched a major initiative to put Mattru Hospital on solid footing. UB Global worked with Hong Kong Conference to assemble an international team to begin work in Thailand among largely unreached ethnic Thai Buddhists.

We added two mission districts–in Liberia (2011), and France (2018)—and the Haiti and Liberia mission districts are in the process of becoming national conferences. We launched partnerships in Turkey and Lebanon. And many new missionaries have joined the UB Global family, including persons now serving in South Africa, Ecuador, Jamaica, Togo, Kenya, Russia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Spain, Honduras, and elsewhere.

Jeff came to UB Global with a strong philosophical foundation regarding mission work. This came through in various policies and practices–regarding missionary recruitment and support, fundraising, our relationships with international UB countries, UB Global board operations, and other areas.

He has had help. Jeff grew a talented, experienced team at the United Brethren National Office: associate director Frank Y (2011), administrative assistant Jana Gass (2013), associate director David Kline (2014), and associate director Michelle Harris (2016).

Bishop Todd Fetters wrote, “Naturally, we are saddened by Jeff’s decision. He has always been a valiant champion for global missions. And to us at the UB National Office, he has been far more than a colleague–he is our friend and true brother in Christ.”

Please pray for Jeff and Charlene as they undergo this transition in their lives, and for Jeff as he considers new opportunities. And pray for the UB Global board, as they seek God’s will during this transition.

Rev. Richard E. Mose (right), 92, passed away Saturday, May 2, 2020, in Sharpsburg, Md. He was a United Brethren pastor for 40 years, and was ordained in 1979. His pastorates were all in Pennsylvania: Lurgan (Lurgan, 1973-1974), Mongul (Shippensburg, 1974-1981), Franklintown (Franklintown, 1981-1985), Ebenezer (Greencastle, 1985-1988), Criders (Chambersburg, 1988-1995), associate pastor at Ebenezer (1997-2003), and Lurgan (2003-2013). At the time of his death, he was a member of King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa.

Rev. Mose’s first wife, Ilene, passed away in 2006. He is survived by his wife Janet Mose, whom he married in 2007, along with three children, ten grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. There are also the families of five step children.

Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Rhodes Grove Camp, 7693 Brown’s Mill Road, Chambersburg, PA 17202.

You can read his online obituary here.

Nadine Louise Speas, 88, passed away April 25, 2020, in Grand Ledge, Mich. She is survived by her husband, George, to whom she was married in 1955. George was ordained as a United Brethren minister in 1987, and they served in the pastorate for many years in Michigan, including 30 years at Kilpatrick UB church (Woodland, Mich.). A private burial will take place in the Woodland Memorial Park Cemetery, with a public celebration of Nadine’s life to be held at a later date.

Condolences can be sent to Rev. George Speas at:

Rev. George Speas
c/o Jeff Speas
4173 Brown Road
Lake Odessa, MI 48849

UB Global missionaries Dr. Richard and Cathy Toupin (right) are currently working at the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital in Central Park, New York. They spent the first few months of the year at Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone, but were forced to return to Indiana early because of the pandemic.

Before the Toupins left for New York, UB Global spoke with them in a public videochat. The Toupins talked about how Mattru Hospital was preparing for the coronavirus.

Sierra Leone was among the last countries in the world to have Covid-19 cases, reporting its first case on March 31. As of April 21, there are 43 confirmed cases, and no deaths. Says Richard, “They are doing significant social distancing. The government has been very aggressive and proactive in closing the borders, preventing flights from going in and out, and restricting movement within the country.”

Around the end of February, they recognized that Covid-19 was spreading globally and would eventually come to Sierra Leone. So the hospital leadership began making preparations. The senior medical staff now consists of one physician being seconded by the Nigerian government, and three community health officials (CHOs).

Richard: “One thing the hospital has lacked for many years is a fence around the hospital. Community members take many different paths through the hospital grounds. So the first thing was to put a temporary fence around the hospital. About the time we began this plan, we received a $10,000 grant from the Southwestern Medical Foundation. Part of that money was used to build this fence. It has been completed, so now the hospital has borders, and people are not crossing through the hospital as much as they were.”

In 2014 during the Ebola epidemic, the hospital built a triage building. That has been rehabilitated. They also created an isolation unit for Covid-19 patients, using a ward built initially for tuberculosis patients. In addition, the government set up testing capabilities at the hospital to test for Covid-19. Says Richard, “There has been a very good relationship between the hospital and the district health medical team.”

Cathy: “When we had our meetings, the head lab guy said they would be able to test without taking the actual samples back to their lab, so that everything else wouldn’t get contaminated.”

Richard addressed the lack of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). “During the Ebola years, the whole world was focused on the three countries of West Africa affected by Ebola, so all of these supplies came into Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. That’s not the case now. While we were there, we were scrambling to determine where we would get PPE. It turns out there was a really good supply of masks left over from the Ebola days. They had thousands of masks, but some were damaged during their time in storage. The local government hospital on Bonthe island, downriver from Mattru, had lots of gowns but they didn’t have masks. So we exchanged that kind of PPE. Unfortunately, there’s a real need for gloves, and hopefully the government will be able to step in to supply that PPE when the time arises.

“As far as we know, there is one ventilator in the country. To put that in perspective, there are 10.6 million people in Sierra Leone, and just one ventilator at a private hospital. It is quite awful to think about the consequences of what will happen if this becomes widespread in Sierra Leone. About 85% of people do well with this illness, but 15-20% don’t do well and need to be hospitalized. Of those, a high number need to be on high-flow oxygen, and a smaller percentage, 3-4%, end up on ventilators.”

Richard said portable oxygen cylinders are uncommon in the developing world. At Mattru, they have large storage containers, and oxygen is piped into rooms. “So the only option in rural Sierra Leone is to use an oxygen concentrator. They require electricity, and over time they wear out. Part of the recent grant money is earmarked for oxygen concentrators, but the problem is getting them into the country, especially now that there is very little shipping coming into Sierra Leone.”

Cathy: “We have only one oxygen concentrator that is working right now. We used to have three, and we bought a new one while we were there, but it lasted a week and then broke. So at this point there is only one oxygen concentrator. We’re trying to get two more, but the whole world is needing them, and we don’t know if we’ll be able to get any more. We do have somebody coming to look at the old ones to see if they can be prepared, but they definitely need something to give oxygen to these patients.”

A solar grid was installed at Mattru Hospital in 2017. Some technical issues remain, but it has been a huge blessing to the hospital.

Richard: “Having 24-hour electricity is something we in the West take for granted. If the power goes out for an hour or two, we kind of freak out. In Sierra Leone, a significant portion of the country doesn’t have 24-hour electricity, and the same is true for the town of Mattru Jong. Having electricity 24 hours a day has been revolutionary for the hospital. It has allowed the lab to work 24 hours a day, and has provided lights into the maternity ward, power for the operating room, and power for oxygen concentrators when they are functioning. So it has revolutionized the care.”

HU Students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.

Huntington University received accreditation for its Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program. This is the nation’s first accredited OTA bachelor’s degree program.

“As the first accredited OTA program in the country, we are able to provide education that is cutting-edge, evidence-based, and state-of-the-art,” said Dr. Nicole Scheiman, OTA department chair and program director. “We can provide advanced education in clinical practice, leadership, and professionalism.”

The five-year accreditation was granted by ACOTE, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Accreditation enables students to take the exam needed to work as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).

Having the degree at the bachelor’s level prepares Huntington University graduates for leadership positions that require a bachelor’s degree. Graduates will have a competitive edge in the healthcare arena.

Huntington University’s Class of 2020 will be the first class of students in the nation to graduate with Bachelor of Science degrees in Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Kory Alford has been hired as coach of the Huntington University men’s basketball team. He is the son of Indiana legend Steve Alford, who won the Mr. Basketball award in high school and went on to lead Indiana University to the 1987 NCAA championship.

Kory played under his father at both New Mexico and UCLA, reaching the NCAA tournament all four years (and the Sweet Sixteen twice). He also played on two state championship teams as a high schooler in New Mexico. Most recently, he has been part of the coaching staff at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Said HU Athletic Director Lori Culler, “He brings tremendous knowledge of the game, strong recruiting connections, Indiana family ties and a faith-infused approach to coaching that will enable him to hit the ground running.

Kory said he has always dreamed of leading a basketball program, and it’s truly special being able to lead such a program in his home state of Indiana. “God has blessed me throughout my career in this sport, and I consider it a great privilege to be able to contribute to the Christ-centered mission of Huntington University.”

The video above is a very informative interview with Kory Alford. At the 4:15 mark, he begins telling his faith journey.


On Good Friday, UB Global missionaries Dr. Richard and Cathy Toupin (right) left for New York City to work with Samaritan’s Purse in treating COVID-19 patients. Last September, they attended an SP conference in Florida, during which they signed up to be part of a Disaster Assistance Response Team. After Palm Sunday, they received a call: you’re needed in New York. They have committed to work there for three weeks, until May 1, and could opt to extend it another two weeks.

They were told it would be 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week. So their prayer request from the United Brethren family is for physical and emotional strength.

The Toupins started the year serving a couple months at Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone. With the country closing its borders, they left a little sooner than planned, and returned to their home in Auburn, Ind. They completed a 14-day quarantine last Sunday, April 5. On their blog, they wrote about their decision to work with Samaritan’s Purse.

Erik and Iris Rojas (right) lead the one United Brethren church in Costa Rica. Pastor Rojas sent a message on April 9. He said they’ve had about 500 cases of Covid-19 since the first case was confirmed on March 6 (an American tourist from New York), and there have been two deaths. But thanks to tough restrictions from the government, they appear to have the curve under control. He then sent the following information about his church in San Jose.

“During this Easter, by order of the government, everything is closed except for hospitals, pharmacies, and places where they sell food. There is a very strict vehicle restriction. The beaches, the parks, the hotels, etc., are totally closed. All people are asked to leave home only if absolutely necessary. Thank God, we have no knowledge of anyone in our congregation who is ill. We all try to help each other with food and finances, because we know that many have lost their jobs and others have reduced their working hours and, therefore, their wages have also been reduced.

“On Sundays and Wednesdays, my wife and I are sending videos with words of encouragement, Bible reflections, and preaching for the entire congregation using Facebook and WhatsApp. At home we work as a family so as not to lose communion with God. We all have devotional times together. In addition, we try to be in constant communication with the members of the congregation to know their needs and requests.”