michindohsign525 weatherwood800 michindoh-aerialview1000 waterslide580 michindohsign600

On June 21, 1987, North Ohio Conference dedicated the Weatherwood Center, the centerpiece of the new Michindoh Camp and Conference Center outside of Hillsdale, Mich. The 33,000 square foot lodge featured large and small dining areas, an air-conditioned meeting hall, a chapel, a game room, offices, bookstore, and elevator. Plus 26 motel-style rooms.

United Brethren camping had always skewed toward “rustic.” Camp Michindoh was anything but rustic. And it had a 310-foot waterslide! Cliff Miller, who became the director in 1990, recalled the day when he arrived for a job interview. “I was absolutely flabbergasted by what was called Camp Michindoh. It was actually a state-of-the art conference center.”

In September 1983, North Ohio Conference took possession of 243 acres of prime land just three miles down the road from its existing Rothfuss Park campground (definitely rustic). The Merillat Foundation paid for the property and financed a massive amount of construction—camper cabins, beach house, full-size gym, RV sites, cabins with four apartments each, recreation areas, and much more. Paved roads, not common at church camps, meandered through the grounds.

With the completion of the Weatherwood Center, the camp was ready to go. Seven weeks of summer camp were held there in 1987, along with annual conference and various retreats (men, women, youth, singles).

Under Cliff Miller’s leadership, the Michindoh Camp and Conference Center flourished and became a widely-respected ministry. In addition to the summer camps and all kinds of adult-oriented retreats, they were serving 120 youth a week in outdoor education programs for Toledo and other school systems, and hosting 20 weeks a year of Elderhostel for senior citizens.

United Brethren people sometimes referred to Camp Michindoh as one of our “crown jewels.” But crown jewels are expensive. And by 2005, when we dissolved the annual conferences, Camp Michindoh faced huge maintenance costs.

Our other camps quickly organized as independent ministries. However, it took two years to settle the future of Camp Michindoh. After various other options didn’t work out, the camp was deeded to Spring Arbor University, a Free Methodist college.

Don and Leora Ackerman and children in 1956.

Don and Leora Ackerman and children in 1956.

Don and Leora Ackerman were married on June 19, 1947, at the Van Orin United Brethren church in Illinois. They had met at Huntington College, and after the wedding, they both taught school in Huntington Township. However, they soon sensed God calling them to the mission field. It turned out to be Honduras, where they spent nine years.

Don grew up in Sabetha, Kansas, became a Christian at a United Brethren campmeeting, and enrolled at Huntington College in 1939. He entered the Army in 1943 and was initially trained to fly the P-40 fighter. He had no trouble hitting ground targets, but said, “When it came to an aerial target, I was absolutely no good at all.” He then trained to fly the B-26 bomber. When the Army decided to stop using the B-26, they sent to train on B-17s. By the time he finished that training, the war in Europe ended. So he was sent to bombardier school at the B-29 base…where he basically sat until Japan surrendered.

Don returned to HC in the spring of 1945 and graduated in 1947 with a teaching degree.

Leora Smith was born in Kansas, but lived most of her life in Illinois. She was converted as a child under the preaching of her father, Rev. Cecil Smith. She graduated from Huntington College in 1946, following in the tracks of her older brother and sister. Her sister Juanita spent 15 years as a nurse at Mattru hospital in Sierra Leone, starting in 1950.

In 1945, we assumed oversight of several English-speaking churches in Honduras. The first missionaries were Harry Flickinger and his family, who then pastored the UB church in Hillsdale, Mich. They went in February 1948. They were effective missionaries and accomplished a lot…for three months. Then severe illness struck Flickinger. Doctors advised him to return to the States ASAP, which he did. He was immediately hospitalized, and remained sick for two years.

Flickinger’s illness was largely blamed on unsanitary living conditions. Mission director George Fleming was determined not to let that happen again. He spent two weeks in Honduras in early 1949 and bought a very nice house previously owned by a former ship captain.

A Standard Fruit Company ship delivered the Ackermans to La Ceiba, Honduras, on July 22, 1949. What a surprise when they arrived at their new home–a fully furnished, two-story place with 13 rooms. So big, in fact, that the Ackermans decided to use just the first floor.

The Ackermans were sent mainly to work in the sadly-equipped 80-student school located about a half-mile from their home. George Fleming had warned them about the Spartan conditions–crude furnishings, few books, practically no equipment. Don, a skilled carpenter, set to work crafting a bookcase, blackboard, and other items. A fellow at the fruit company designed a desk, and Don found people to build probably 100 of them, plus chairs.

In addition to their school duties, the Ackermans were involved in the broader church ministry. They would spend practically the entire day at church—morning service at 9 a.m., Sunday school at 2 p.m., and an evening service at 7 p.m. The Ackermans both taught Sunday school classes and led the Wednesday night meeting.

They saw the mission go through major changes, including the shift to a focus on the Spanish-speaking population and village evangelism. In 1956, Don had the vision to buy a large piece of property on the outskirts of La Ceiba. He built the first building there–a cement block mission house which, today, is the conference headquarters. Today, that property is also home to the Bethel Church and the Bethel school.

The school was closed in 1957. However, the Missions board approached the Ackermans about going to Jamaica. They wanted Don to be principal of a new school Jamaica Conference was starting in Kingston. It would have been the first time UB missionaries were transferred from one field to another. However, the Ackermans were never able to secure visas. The Jamaican government figured Don would replace a national as principal of the high school–which was true. As it turned out, the school never got off the ground.

Bishop Robert Rash told Don and Leora about a new UB church starting in Des Moines, Iowa. It could use workers. Don easily landed a position teaching math and science in a junior high school. And there the Ackermans remained until they retired–faithfully serving in the Patricia Park UB church (now closed), going on the occasional work trip, and always remaining intensely interested in the people of Honduras.

Don Ackerman passed away on July 9, 2008. Leora continues living in Hastings, Nebraska. Today would have been their 70th anniversary.

Address: Leora Ackerman, Good Samaritan Village, 707 Circle M, Hastings, NE  68901

dickson-john300By the time John Dickson was born on June 15, 1820, his family had been in the New World for three generations. His great-grandfather, amidst political troubles, fled Scotland at age 15 and, after spending a few years in Ireland, arrived in Philadelphia. He eventually settled around Lancaster, Pa.

Dickson’s grandfather was abducted by Indians when he was 7 years old, but was released after three months. He went on to serve in the military, and was one of only three soldiers to escape an Indian massacre; everyone else was killed and scalped. He fought in the Revolutionary War, along with his four brothers, all of whom were dead by the end of the war. One brother was killed at the battle of Monmouth, one at Brandywine, one by Indians, and the other died on the way home.

Dickson parents were Presbyterians, and he was required to recite the Westminster Catechism every Sunday. At age 17, he began teaching school in Pennsylvania. In 1842, he was converted under the preaching of a first-year minister during a service held in a schoolhouse near Chambersburg. Two years later, he became a United Brethren preacher.

For the next 22 years, Dickson was a pastor–sometimes of a circuit of scattered churches, sometimes of a congregation in a single location. He built some churches, and at every place, there were revivals. Henry Adams Thompson wrote of Dickson, “He never left a charge without leaving it in a better condition than when he took it.”

In 1869, Dickson was elected bishop (on the first ballot), and continued in that role until 1893. Daniel Berger said that in chairing meetings, “the progress of business was always safe in his hands.” And, “As an expository preacher, he has been recognized as having no peer in the denomination.” Thompson said Dickson’s style was to “bring home God’s Word with the least amount of verbiage.”

As a bishop, Dickson was a member of the 1885 Church Commission which worked on a new Constitution and Confession of Faith. However, he refused to participate because he feared it would lead to a division…which it did, in 1889. When the division occurred, he did what he could to hold the church together. However, he never considered leaving with Milton Wright. Thompson wrote, “If he could not conscientiously have remained with the Church, he would have sought a home in some other denomination.”

Dickson served one more term, and then was done in 1893.

At one point, Dickson wrote, “As a denomination, we have but little outside of our piety to depend upon. Other denominations have numbers, wealth, political and literary prestige. We are among the smaller denominations, and made up mostly of poor people. We have no author who has a reputation outside of our own denomination, and we have no one in the high places of the nation. If we lack in piety, we have nothing to build on, nothing to commend us to the people.”

Dickson apparently did a lot of writing. Thompson said of him, “While we may not always accept his views, he puts them clearly, forcibly, and without equivocation. We may not always believe in what he says, but we are sure he believes so. He has written nothing foolish. He writes to be understood, and the average reader knows what he means.”

L-r: George Weaver, Duane Reahm, and Raymond Waldfogel.

L-r: George Weaver, Duane Reahm, and Raymond Waldfogel.

We started the 1900s with four bishops, but in 1913 reduced to just three bishops for the next 40 years. In 1951, illness forced Albert M. Johnson to step down after 22 years as bishop. The 1953 General Conference decided to stick with just two bishops.

Clyde Meadows was one of those two bishops throughout the 1960s (1961-1969), and served the final year pretty much by himself after Bishop Robert Rash suffered severe heart problems. Both men retired in 1969.

When the 1969 General Conference ended on June 14, we had three rookie bishops.

George Weaver, had been pastoring the Otterbein UB church in Waynesboro, Pa. He served until 1977, and then left to become president of Winebrenner Seminary in Findlay, Ohio. He passed away in 2002.

Duane Reahm had been Executive Secretary of Missions since 1961. He now became bishop of the East District. In 1973, we created the position of “Overseas Bishop,” so he returned to providing oversight of the foreign conferences. He retired as bishop in 1981, and passed away in 1991 from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Raymond Waldfogel had been a pastor and fulltime superintendent in North Ohio Conference. He continued as bishop until 1981, and then returned to pastoral ministry. He passed away in 2011.

Tim and Tara Hallman.

Tim and Tara Hallman.

On Saturday, June 10, Tim Hallman received the Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago.

Hallman, an ordained UB minister (and son of UB ministry couple Gerald and Rozanne Hallman), graduated from Huntington College in 1996 and from the Graduate School of Christian Ministries in 1998. In 2008, he was awarded the Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Hallman pastored Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.) from 1998 until 2016. He then accepted a position as Christian Emphasis Director with the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne.

Rev. John L. Ford, 78, passed away on Friday, June 9, 2017, in Cumberland, Md. He had been a pastor of the Clarksburg and Underwood UB churches, and was a member of Bethany House of the Lord in Cumberland.

Funeral date: 1:00 pm on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
Funeral location: Scarpelli Funeral Home, 108 Virginia Avenue, Cumberland, Md.

Left: Floyd and Janet Lundy. Right: Floyd and Kathy Lundy.

Left: Floyd and Janet Lundy. Right: Floyd and Kathy Lundy.

Kathy Custer, a member of Maple Hill UB church (now Homefront) in Grandville, Mich., went to Sierra Leone in October 1977 as secretary to Jerry Datema (who had been her pastor for a few years in the 1970s).

Jerry Datema was elected bishop in June 1981. Kathy came home on furlough that summer, but at the request of the Board of Missions, she returned to Africa in early September, a month early, to help prepare things for the new field secretary, Floyd Lundy.

Floyd and Janet Lundy arrived in Sierra Leone on November 5, 1981. It was not unfamiliar territory: they had served two terms in Sierra Leone 1964-1971. After they returned to the States in 1971, the Lundys settled in DeGraff, Ohio, where Floyd taught in the high school and pastored a church. Then, after a ten-year absence, Bishop Datema approached them about returning to Bumpe to take on the field secretary job. So—back to Sierra Leone.

Kathy Custer served alongside Floyd Lundy for eight months, and then returned to the States in June 1982 for TMJ surgery on her jaw. Her ailment prevented her from returning to Sierra Leone. Instead, she began working in the Missions department–once again, as secretary to Jerry Datema.

Floyd and Janet Lundy concluded their term in 1983, and returned to the States in July of that year. In November 1984, Janet was diagnosed with lung cancer, and then in mid-1985 with a brain tumor. She passed away.

On June 13, 1987, Floyd Lundy married his former secretary in Sierra Leone, Kathy Custer. Since then, they’ve been living in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

And today–June 13, 2017–Floyd and Kathy are celebrating their 30th anniversary. Congratulations!

Bishop Ezra Funk (right) was known as a great teacher. Looking toward heaven, he once said, “I hope there will be someone for me to teach.” He was especially adept at teaching biblical doctrine.

While pastoring churches in Pennsylvania, Funk chalked up 28 years as an elementary public schoolteacher. A school superintendent described him as “one of the most energetic teachers I have ever known.” And creative. He was always on the lookout for visual aids to use in the classroom. He put a sandbox in his classroom; students played in it, and he used it to teach measurements–quarters, cups, etc. Standing just over 5’3”, Funk wasn’t much taller than his students.

Ezra Funk was born July 3, 1886, in Cheesetown, Pa., just north of Chambersburg. He grew up in the York Brethren, a branch of the plain-dressing River Brethren. Always small for his age, he was subject to much bullying.

At age 20, when he announced to his parents that he was joining the United Brethren to become a minister, it didn’t go over well. But he knew that’s where God wanted him. In 1906, he joined the Salem UB church near Chambersburg and was licensed to preach.

He went on to pastor various churches in Pennsylvania–in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Orrstown, Strinestown, Waynesboro, Heidlersburg. In 1909 he and Bessie were married, and would have 11 children, two of which died as infants (Ezra assisted in nine of the births). He pastored Baptist churches 1919-1924, but then returned to the UB fold. In 1941, Funk was elected bishop, and served until 1957.

Funk was a voracious reader, and a dedicated walker. Every morning he took a brisk “devotional” walk, during which he would read the Bible and pray. He was always reading something, and was even known to take a book to read during denominational board meetings.

He read the Bible over and over. One time during a UB missions convention in Ontario, while everyone else spent the afternoon visiting Niagara Falls, Funk stayed behind to re-read the Book of Acts, on which he was preaching that night. A note in his Bible said he had already read Acts 111 times.

He was also devoted to UB missions. Two daughters served in Sierra Leone. He traveled three times to Jamaica to teach the pastors, he organized Honduras Conference in 1956, and he also visited our work in Hong Kong and Sierra Leone.

After the 1957 General Conference, Ezra and Bessie, along with daughter Erma, moved to Greencastle, Pa. Within a couple months, he was diagnosed with cancer. Bishop Ezra Funk passed away on June 10, 1958, at age 71.

(Many thanks to Nancy Hull N’Gele, who wrote the chapter about Bishop Funk in United Brethren Bishops, Volume 2.)

L-r: Lloyd and Eula Eby, Oneta Sewell, Erma Funk, Bernadine Hoffman.

L-r: Lloyd and Eula Eby, Oneta Sewell, Erma Funk, Bernadine Hoffman.

On April 9, we began following the journey of five missionaries to Sierra Leone in 1944–Lloyd and Eula Eby, Bernadine Hoffman, Oneta Sewell, and Erma Funk. On April 20, we left them in Natale, a city on the eastern tip of Brazil jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. From there, they planned to catch a plane to Africa. But it was war-time, and the missionaries found themselves stuck in Brazil for six weeks.

Planes were constantly making the flight across the Atlantic, but military people had priority. Finally, on June 4, Pan Am had a plane for them. A few seats would be filled by the wives of Firestone workers. All the rest would go to missionaries. On June 5, after a 14-hour flight, they landed in Liberia. (The next day, incidentally, the D-Day invasion occurred in Europe.)

Now the five United Brethren missionaries, along with six missionaries from other organizations, had to figure out how to get to Sierra Leone, along with all their luggage. Early one morning, they boarded a small boat for the 30-mile trip along the coast to Sierra Leone.

The rough seas and high waves left nearly everyone at least a little sick. Then, at the mouth of a river, they hit a sandbar, with high waves all around, and it became quite dangerous. The oarsmen jumped overboard and, one by one, carried the passengers ashore. When the wind subsided, they continued on to Sulimah, the southern-most village in Sierra Leone.

It was June 9, 1944. Exactly two months after leaving Indiana, they had arrived in Sierra Leone.

The next day, a doctor arrived from Pujehun on a lorry he had chartered. The missionaries were able to charter it back to Pujehun. From there, the eleven missionaries took a lorry to Bo, which was as far as the six non-UB missionaries needed to go.

The next day, the five UBs traveled by lorry to Mattru, and then took a boat to Bonthe. They had arrived.

Throughout 2017, we are recognizing significant events and stories from throughout our history. About every other day, a story is posted on UBCentral and Facebook. As of today, 100 stories have been posted this year. Number 101 will be posted on June 9. You can see them all listed here.

On that same page, you can subscribe to the UB Daily News to get each post by email. You can also see them by “liking” the United Brethren Facebook page.

You’ll find stories about UB missionaries, former bishops, significant meetings, influential people, important events, and more. “On This Day in UB History” will give you a greater appreciation for our heritage as a Church.