Steve Dennie–from IBM Selectric to an iMac.

Randy Neuman (right)
Librarian and faculty member at Huntington University, and director of the United Brethren Historical Center

Much has changed in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ during the past four decades, and now the person who helped us understand many of those changes is stepping down after 45 years. Steve Dennie, Director of Communications, will leave his position at the end of August 2023.

Steve has been steeped in United Brethrenism since birth. The son of a United Brethren pastoral couple, Don and Gloria Dennie, he spent his early years on the campus of Huntington College where his dad served six years as assistant business manager. He lived in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California while his father transitioned from schoolteacher to pastoral ministry.

Like many PKs at that time, Steve enrolled at his parents’ alma mater, Huntington College, to further his education. He pursued a degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. His love of journalism began in elementary school and was developed further in high school and college by teachers who encouraged his style of writing.

Steve began his career with the denomination in 1978 as assistant editor of The United Brethren magazine, once the primary communication tool of the denomination. He started out as a traditional magazine editor when the denomination owned its own printshop, but soon was thrust into the position of primary editor as the printshop was shut down and the publication was outsourced for printing. He surpassed all the challenges while turning out an award-winning publication.

Steve served with 11 different bishops. Here he is with four of them. L-r: Ray Seilhamer, Steve, Ron Ramsey, Todd Fetters, and C. Ray Miller.

Over the years, Steve has overseen many changes to the way UBs communicate. Transitioning from editor to director of Communications, he shepherded the denomination from a totally print-based communications strategy to one that is almost totally internet-based. In addition to being chief information gatherer and disseminator, he has served as the editor of national conference publications and the UB Discipline. He has also edited or authored a dozen books, including one major UB history, several biographies, some humor books, and his personal favorite, the recent Against the Blighting Curse, a look at UBs who served in the Civil War. Among his other works, he is particularly fond of Tio Archie, about missionary Archie Cameron and the history of the UB church in Honduras.

In a recent interview, Steve was asked about several topics related to the United Brethren denomination and communications. When asked about the most significant changes he has seen during the last 45 years, he cited the move from several bishops to one in 1993, the development of the international structure in 2001, and the transition to one national conference in 2005. When asked about his favorite United Brethren figures, he suggested Bishop Jonathan Weaver (1824-1901) because he was a prolific, persuasive, and humorous writer. He also spoke highly of Bishop C. Ray Miller, who was instrumental in developing young ministers and lay leaders. As to the state of communications within the denomination, he thinks the time is right for a change to new platforms to disseminate information.

Steve and wife Pam will continue living in Fort Wayne, Ind. He plans to continue to write, edit, and take care of his two cats while in retirement.

Videos of the four main services from the 2023 US National Conference have been posted online. You can now view each entire service, or just the message part.

  • You’ll also find three other resources:
  • The “In Memoriam” video about UB ministers and missionaries who passed away during the previous two years.
  • A “Remember Your Baptism” video used during the opening service.
  • A playlist of the songs used by the worship team throughout the conference.

View the videos here.

Bishop Todd Fetters (center) chaired the US Conference. He is flanked by recording secretary Roxton Spear (left) and assistant chairperson Jim Bolich.

The US National Conference met on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The 2023 US National Conference held its business meeting on July 12, with about 250 voting members who represented 104 United Brethren churches in the United States. The delegates adopted seven new statements proposed by the Human Reproduction Task Force (HRTF), which had been at work for over a year.

All seven statements were adopted as presented. Six of the statements passed with no discussion. The “Abortion” statement took more time, with four proposed amendments and a number of people speaking. However, each amendment in turn was voted down by a clear voice vote. There seemed to be no appetite for changing what the task force had written.

The United Brethren Discipline has now been updated with these seven new statements. Two of the statements, “Abortion” and “Family Planning,” are revisions of existing statements. The other five are entirely new…and significant.

On the Heels of the 2017 Task Force

The 2017 US National Conference passed six proposals from the Task Force on Human Sexuality, which was established in 2015 by the Executive Leadership Team. Bishop Todd Fetters then began considering the right time to do something similar on the issue of human reproduction. Our statements on Abortion, Family Planning, and Genetic Engineering hadn’t been revised since the 1980s. Bishop Fetters decided, “It was time for us to revisit these statements in light of the enormous scientific advancements that have occurred since the 1980s, and to find our voice for a new generation.”

In March 2022, the ELT appointed six persons to a Task Force on Human Reproduction. Bishop Fetters emphasized, as he had done with the 2017 task force, that there was no desire or appetite to liberalize our positions. In outlining the scope of the HRTF’s work, he directed them to three statements in the Discipline–Abortion, Family Planning, and Genetic Engineering. They took it from there.

L-r: Jody Bowser, Christopher Little V, Mark Vincenti, Joni Michaud, Kim Fish, Kent Eilers.

The Task Force Members

The Task Force members brought expertise from a variety of perspectives—legal, family, adoption, therapeutic services, the pastorate, personal experience, Bible/theology, UB missions, higher education, etc.

  • Joni Michaud, chairperson, is a lawyer and a member of the Pleasant Valley UB church in Lake Odessa, Mich. She has also served on the ELT since 2019.
  • Dr. Kent Eilers is a theology professor at Huntington University.
  • Dr. Jody Bowser was senior pastor of King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa.; at the end of April 2023, he accepted a pastorate on the East Coast with another denomination.
  • Rev. Mark Vincenti, an ordained UB minister from Emmanuel UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind., is the campus pastor at Huntington University.
  • Kim Fish is a licensed UB minister, licensed social worker, adoptive parent, and individual/family therapist with a private practice in Fort Wayne, Ind. She grew up in the UB church as the daughter of Dr. Kent Maxwell, graduated from Huntington University, and is married to Rev. Steve Fish, a UB pastor and associate director of UB Global.
  • Rev. Christopher Little V is a UB church planter in Harrisburg, Pa. He and his wife are adoptive parents.

Joni Michaud and Mark Vincenti had also served on the Task Force on Human Sexuality.

Taking it to the Church

The HRTF submitted their proposals to the Executive Leadership Team in April 2023. The proposals were embedded in a longer “white paper” which helped explain and give context to the proposals. Chairperson Joni Michaud then presented the proposals to the National Conference preview meetings held in Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and online.

The HRTF report stated, “While issues like abortion remain hotly contested in the wider culture, the general United Brethren position and scriptural basis for it are long-settled and well-established. In looking at the subjects of family planning, abortion, and genetic engineering, the primary focus of the task force was to propose revised language for the Discipline that would be both consistent with scripture and would remain relevant as science and technology continue to develop over time. This was particularly significant for the section on genetic engineering, which identifies procedures that are no longer in use and does not account for many developments in the field that have occurred during the last 35 years.”

These seven statements, along with about 20 other revisions to the Discipline (mostly minor) have now been incorporated into the Discipline. It can be downloaded here.

Following are the seven proposals as they appear in the Discipline.

¶133 The Beginning of Life

1. In human procreation, God invites us to participate in his good work of creation in a unique and significant way. Human life is God’s gift, and it is sacred at every stage from its end to its earliest beginning.

2. The Church bears living testimony to the sacredness of life by:

a. Promoting the flourishing of every person’s life through works of justice, mercy, and evangelism.

b. Standing with and for those whose lives are vulnerable. Never is a human life more vulnerable than during its beginning.

3. God values each human being in their full humanity at every stage of their life. Therefore, we are committed to promote human flourishing at every life stage and to protect the lives of all human persons through their entire life span beginning at the moment of conception. Scripture portrays this in at least four ways.

a. Every human is made a bodied person in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

b. God provides for each person throughout the course of their life, regardless of accomplishments or faith, sustaining life by sending rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).

c. God loves each and every human person, shown most clearly in God’s saving mission through the Incarnation of God the Son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16).

Joni Michaud presenting the task force proposals to the National Conference delegates.

d. God’s salvation entails the restoration and renewal of the whole person, shown through the full, authentic humanity of Jesus the Messiah (Hebrews 2:5- 18).

4. God’s people bear testimony to the sacredness of life by caring for pregnant women as well as the unborn. No other human relation shares the characteristics of a pregnant woman and the human life she carries: one life biologically dependent upon another human life, and neither life more intrinsically valuable than the other.

5. The physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a pregnant woman are significant in the best of circumstances. These needs are even more acute in circumstances when pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when continuing a pregnancy places a woman’s life at risk. During such unimaginably difficult times, the Church envisions and strives to embody the love and tenderness of God for the weak and the vulnerable just as it does when promoting and protecting the lives of the unborn.

¶134 Family Planning

1. Children are a gift from the Lord. We recognize the family as an environment of unique nurture and support in which all members together pursue their calling in Christ Jesus.

2. Children may be received into the family in a variety of ways, including natural conception, assisted reproduction, adoption, and foster care. These aspects of reproduction and growing families are some of the deepest and most meaningful aspects of our lives. In this light, they can also be the most painful, complex, and difficult.

3. Believers may for valid reasons determine not to have children, or to place a child for adoption. For those who choose to have children, if there is a desire to time pregnancies or to space children a certain number of years apart, that is a decision parents are free to make, and through prayer and discernment they may wisely plan for the addition of any children God blesses them with. (Proverbs 16:3; James 1:5)

¶135 Adoption and Foster Care

1. As believers we have the privilege of being adopted into the family of God.

2. In scripture we see the heart of God for the fatherless and are told to fight and care for the orphan (Psalm 146:9). The church is encouraged to do this, in parenting or support roles. Valuable avenues to family growth may include embryo, private, international and domestic adoption, and foster care.

3. Often there is some aspect of loss and tragedy included in situations of adoption and foster care, and the responsibility to provide care can be challenging and difficult. The church is encouraged to be equipped, and offer emotional and financial support as they are able, in providing for the needs of these children and parents (Isaiah 1:17). In doing so, Jesus’ value of children is lived out, and is considered the same as caring for Jesus himself (Matthew 18:1-6).

¶136 Infertility

1. We recognize the pain and grief that accompanies infertility and empathize with couples affected by it.

2. Couples affected by infertility may request the elders gather together to lay hands on them to pray for healing (James 5:14).

3. Infertile couples are advised to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (James 1:5) and supportive church community in moving forward with faith in considering methods to welcome children into their family, including assisted reproductive technology, adoption, and foster care.

¶137 Assisted Reproduction

1. Assisted reproduction includes the use of medical procedures or technology to aid human procreation.

2. The use of assisted reproductive technology may take a variety of forms, which will necessarily change as new procedures develop. Therefore, rather than addressing the nature of specific procedures, the church advises its members to prayerfully consider the following guidelines when deciding whether to make use of assisted reproductive technology:

a. Its use should be motivated by love.

b. Its use should bring glory to God.

c. Its use should protect and preserve life from the moment of conception.

d. Its use should promote justice toward and prevent the exploitation of each person involved in the process.

e. Its use should protect the integrity of the family.

¶138 Abortion

1. We believe that human life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. Consequently, abortion cannot be recognized morally and scripturally as a means of birth control.

2. We are aware that any consideration of abortion occurs in a place of crisis and significant consequence, and that forgiveness is available in Christ.

3. The church recognizes that abortion may be medically necessary in rare and tragic circumstances, taking into account the life of the mother and baby.

4. The church needs to demonstrate sensitivity and care toward those who have had abortions in the past in order to facilitate an atmosphere of grace and healing.

¶139 Human Reproduction and the Responsibility of the Church

1. Scripture is clear that God’s church is responsible to bring Jesus’ love, light, hope, and healing to people who are hurting, struggling, and in need while also maintaining deeply biblical convictions about human life and reproduction. These two convictions are not in conflict. They are to be simultaneously embraced and held in creative tension in order for the Church to be a faithful witness to the world.

2. We understand that a deep range of emotions pertain to reproductive issues. The Church’s commitment is to:

a. Be a generous support in bearing the burdens of those in trial or crisis (Gal. 6:2; Rom 12:15).

b. Show extravagant welcome (Romans 12:13; 15:7), companionship (Romans 12:10), and sacrifice (Hebrews 13:16) to those in need.

3. While maintaining our compassion and support for people during difficult and often confusing reproductive crises, we must always maintain our commitment to the authority of Scripture (Isaiah 40:8, 2 Timothy 3:16). At times this may necessitate embracing convictions that contrast with prevailing cultural and social norms and rejecting certain reproductive technologies or procedures.

4. It is our high view of God’s gift of life (Psalm 139:13-16), the sacredness of the human body (Genesis 1:26-27), and the beauty of God’s design of human reproduction (Genesis 1:28, 2:23-24) that compels us to maintain and celebrate our biblical convictions about human reproduction as we care for and value the least of these.

Andy Sikora (left), associate director of Church Planting, introduces the Sams family during the July 14 service which concluded the US National Conference.

The Nate Sams family.

Over the past two years, 2021-2023, the Lord has directed the United Brethren Church toward starting churches in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both plants have taken root and are making an impact in their communities, which are very different.

Through our partnership with Stadia, National Ministries director Mike Dittman and Andy Sikora, associate director of Church Planting, linked up with Nate Sams to start Known Church in Surprise, Ariz. (not far from the Huntington University campus in Peoria). Bishop Todd Fetters and Andy flew out to Arizona to meet with Nate in January 2022.

Bishop Fetters recalls, “Nate took us around the area, and it was neat to see the Peoria/Surprise region through his eyes and heart. Nate and his team met every Sunday in March at an elementary school in Surprise. Then, on April 3, 2022, Known Church held its public launch at the school. They had 65 people for that first service, and are now seeing about 50 people each Sunday.”

In March 2023, Bishop Fetters visited Nate Sams and attended the weekend service at Known Church. He also attended chapel at the Huntington University campus in Peoria, where Nate serves as campus pastor.

Nate Sams and his family attended the 2023 National Conference. He said the church is currently in transition. The school where they had been meeting lacks air-conditioning, which is not something you want to be without during summers in Arizona (today, July 18, Phoenix hit 110+ degrees for the 19th straight day!). So they are looking for a new place, and waiting for God to provide.

In Pennsylvania, 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Dan Reed is planting Harvest Mill Church in the town of Brookville, population 4000. Dan had nearly 30 people in a core group. While they currently meet in an old mill, the Lord has opened the door for Harvest Mill to meet in the local high school. They have a core leadership team of about 25, and are seeing 40-50 people attend on Sunday. Dan had been a long-term substitute teacher in Brookville, but is now focusing on the church plant.

Bishop Fetters says, “Our team has an ‘all of the above’ approach to church planting.”

In addition to the two more traditional church plants, we have three “simple church” (or micro-church) networks underway.

  • Christopher Little V is leading United House Network in Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Mike Dittman is leading Journey Communities Network in Commerce, Mich.
  • Rick Tawney is leading Renew Communities-Columbus in Ohio. There, First UB church has expanded its vision of its building to become “The Hilltop Hub.” Rick will provide leadership to a network of ministries that operate out of that building, including two churches. He was stationed as the pastor of First UB upon the retirement of Rev. Al Carter.

Bishop Todd Fetters (right) leads a panel of church planters. From left: Rick Tawney, Nate Sams, Christopher Little V, Dan Reed.

During the National Conference, Bishop Fetters led a workshop which included a panel of church planters–Nate Sams, Dan Reed, Rick Tawney, and Christopher Little V.

Says Bishop Fetters, “Our first-ever Simple Church Summit, with 28 participants, was held at the Hilltop Hub during 2022. These creative expressions of the Church are unique in their approach and reflect the UBIC’s enduring commitments to the Gospel, Unity, and Mission.”

A commissioning service was held for the Sams family, with Andy Sikora leading in prayer.

The seven persons ordained on July 14, 2023 (l-r): Brad North, Jennifer Smith, Jerald Jones, Rick Tawney, Sam Ward, Aaron deNeui, Eric Griffon.

Bishop Todd Fetters began the service with the same words which have been said to hundreds of ministers over the years.

On July 14, six men and one woman were ordained during the closing service of the 2023 US National Conference. This is always a highlight of National Conference. It’s inspiring to see men and women ordained as United Brethren ministers–“elders,” we call them.

Ordination is the culmination of years of education, examination, and faithful ministry experience. Some persons choose to be ordained in their local church, among the people who know them best. Others wait to be ordained at National Conference–six in 2011, four in 2013, six in 2015, nine in 2017 (our 250th anniversary conference), four in 2019, and one in 2021 (our “post-Covid” conference).

As bishop, Todd Fetters conducted this year’s ordinations, as he has done since 2017. Candidates select two persons, usually other ordained UB ministers, who have had a meaningful role in their life. These two persons join the bishop in the “laying on of hands.” Scripture is read, prayer is offered, and timeless words are spoken–the same words heard by hundreds of men and women throughout our history.

As the candidate (and spouse, if attending) kneel, the bishop and others lay hands on the person’s head, and the bishop says: “Take authority to execute the office of an elder in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The candidate then stands and is handed a Bible by the bishop, who says, “Take authority to preach the Word of God and to administer the ordinances in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.”

The seven persons ordained on July 14 were:

  • Brad North, senior pastor of South Scipio UB church (Harlan, Ind.). Brad was executive director of Camp Living Waters (Luther, Mich.) 2013-2018 before being assigned to South Scipio.
  • Jerald Jones, senior pastor since 2018 of McCallum UB church (Delton, Mich.). He is a graduate of Grace Bible College.
  • Jennifer Smith, Women’s Pastor since 2016 at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.). She holds an Elementary Education degree from Houghton University, and taught for three years at a missionary school in Senegal.
  • Aaron deNeui, senior pastor since 2018 of Philomath UB church (Philomath, Oregon). He is a 1982 graduate of Moody Bible Institute.
  • Sam Ward, Worship Pastor at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Sam, a 1997 Huntington University graduate, holds a Master of Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. He has served at Emmanuel since 2000.
  • Rick Tawney, church planter and pastor of First UB church (Columbus, Ohio). He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Akron (1989), a Master of Divinity from Trinity International (1994), and a master’s in Counseling from Philadelphia Biblical University (2003). He started Renew of Columbus in 2019, and in 2022 also became pastor of First UB.
  • Eric Griffon, Worship Pastor since 2017 at Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.). He is a 2003 graduate of Wheaton College (Kinesiology/Education), and in 2010 received the Master of Public Administration from the University of Michigan.

 

The ordination of Aaron deNeui.

The ordination of Aaron deNeui.

The ordination of Eric Griffon, with his wife, Christine.

The ordination of Eric Griffon, with his wife, Christine.

The ordination of Eric Griffon, with his wife, Christine.

The ordination of Brad North, with his wife, Janet.

The ordination of Brad North, with his wife, Janet.

The ordination of Jerald Jones, with his wife, Kala.

The ordination of Jerald Jones, with his wife, Kala.

The ordination of Jennifer Smith, with her husband, Michael.

The ordination of Jennifer Smith, with her husband, Michael.

The ordination of Jennifer Smith.

The ordination of Rick Tawney, with his wife, Sheila.

The ordination of Rick Tawney, with his wife, Sheila.

The ordination of Sam Ward, with his wife, Sara.

The ordination of Sam Ward, with his wife, Sara.

Rick and Sheila Tawney, along with two of their children, with National Ministries director Mike Dittman and his wife, Pam (right).

Sam Ward and Jennifer Smith.

Jennifer Smith with her husband, Michael, and the two Emmanuel staffers she chose to join her: Craig Mickey and Gary Dilley.

Jerald Jones and his crew from McCallum UB church in Delton, Mich.

Jerald and Kala Jones with the two ministers who stood with Jerald: Darrel Bosworth, pastor of Sunfield UB church (Sunfield, Mich.), and David Dakin, pastor of Homefront UB church (Grandville, Mich.).

Eric and Christine Griffon (left) with National Ministries director Mike Dittman and his wife, Pam.

Eric Griffon and his crew.

Sam Ward and Jennifer Smith both serve on staff at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. Here they are joined by their spouses and the four elders who stood with them. L-r: Dan Friend, Jason Holliday, Craig Mickey, Sara and Sam Ward, Michael and Jennifer Smith, Gary Dilley.

Brad and Janet North and their crew.

L-r: Rocky Spear (recording secretary), Bishop Todd Fetters (chairperson), and Jim Bolich (assistant chairperson).

The US National Conference meets every two years, and is the highest governing body for United Brethren churches in the United States. One day is always devoted to business. This year, that day was Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

There were 255 voting members–140 clergy, 114 laypersons. The voting members represented 104 different United Brethren churches in the United States. In addition, there were 10 clergy with advisory status.

The delegates enjoyed breakfast together, and by 8:30 were seated and ready to get started. The business session began with a time of worship led by Nathan Hann and his team, and a recitation of the United Brethren Confession of Faith.

Dalton Jenkins giving the report of the Nominating Committee.

Executive Leadership Team
The first order of business was electing members of the Executive Leadership Team. Rev. Dalton Jenkins presented the report of the Nominating Committee and the eight persons on the ballot for the ELT.

The ELT meets twice a year to handle business between sessions of the National Conference. There are 12 members–the bishop, six laypersons, and six clergy. Each National Conference elects two clergy and two laypersons to four-year terms. They join the four members who are in the middle of their four-year terms, and together, they appoint another four persons to two-year terms. It all comes out to three persons from each region (East, Central, North, and West), with an even split between laity and clergy.

Those elected this year to four-year terms were:

  • Central District, clergy: Tim Sherman, senior pastor of Bethel UB church (Elmore, Ohio).
  • North District, clergy: Josh Good, senior pastor of Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.).
  • East District, laity: Maria Alonso-Tomlinson (International UB church, Allentown, Pa.).
  • West District, laity: Michelle Harris (Anchor Community Church, Fort Wayne, Ind.).


Newly-elected members of the Executive Leadership Team. L-r: Tim Sherman, Josh Good, Maria Alonso-Tomlinson, Michelle Harris.

Human Reproduction Task Force
Next came the report of the Human Reproduction Task Force, which was appointed in 2022. The chairperson was Joni Michaud, who also served on the 2017 Task Force on Human Sexuality. Joni is a lifelong UB from Lake Odessa, Mich., a Huntington University graduate, and a practicing lawyer.

Joni Michaud

Joni presented seven statements which the HRTF was proposing to include in the United Brethren Discipline. All seven were adopted as presented. Six of the statements raised no discussion. The “Abortion” statement took more time, with four proposed amendments and a number of people speaking. However, each amendment in turn was voted down by a clear voice vote. There seemed to be no appetite for changing what the task force had written.

So, we now have new statements on:
• The Beginning of Life
• Family Planning
• Adoption and Foster Care
• Infertility
• Assisted Reproduction
• Abortion
• Human Reproduction and the Responsibility of the Church

You can read the seven HRTF proposals here.

Other Discipline Revision Proposals
In addition, the delegates considered 22 other proposed revisions to the Discipline. Most were minor or editorial–little more than housecleaning, bringing the Discipline into line with actual practice, or correcting inaccuracies.

The delegates moved through them quickly, passing 21 of the revisions without discussion. They deleted proposal 34-4c, which would have revised the liturgy format used for receiving new members into the church. But that was the only change.

You can read those proposals here.

Bishop Todd Fetters giving his report, with the directors seated behind him.

Bishop Todd Fetters with Steve Dennie

Reports
The Bishop and directors gave reports–UB Global, Higher Education, Communications, National Ministries, Finance, and Ministerial Licensing & Ordination. Steve Dennie went last, giving his final report as Director of Communications; he will retire at the end of August after 45 years at the UB National Office. Bishop Fetters used the occasion to make some remarks about Steve and presented a couple gifts–two caps bearing the UB logo, and a hoodie with “Dennie 45” on the back.

Huntington University and Evangelical Seminary also made presentations.

Brian Biedenbach (left) interviewing Walter Kim.

Winsome and Wise
In the afternoon, incoming Communications director Brian Biedenbach did a conversational interview with Dr. Walter Kim, the conference’s keynote speaker.

Dr. Kim, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, addressed the NAE’s “winsome and wise” approach to public engagement, among other things. It was quite illuminating. As of 2023, the United Brethren Church has been a denominational member of NAE for 70 years.

Overall, things moved along faster than expected, and the meeting adjourned around 3:00 in the afternoon, an hour earlier than scheduled. Nobody minded that.

 

Bishop Todd Fetters spoke during the concluding service on Friday morning, July 14.

Nathan Hann and a team mostly from King Street UB church (Chambersburg, Pa.) led in worship throughout the week.

Over 500 people attended the 2023 US National Conference, held July 11-14 in Fort Wayne, Ind. The conference concluded on Friday morning, July 14, with a thrilling and moving service.

Once again, everyone experienced a superb time of worship led by Nathan Hann and his team from King Street UB church in Chambersburg, Pa.

Bishop Todd Fetters gave a stirring message from Philippians 2:1-18. He focused on three commands–LOVE (each other and the church), LIVE like Jesus, and LIGHT the world.

Andy Sikora prays for Nate Sams and his family, church planters in Surprise, Ariz.

There was a commissioning service for the Nate Sams family, who are 18 months into planting a new UB church in Surprise, Ariz.

Frank Yang, executive director of UB Global, prays for Chloe Makley.

The UB Global staff led a commissioning service for Chloe Makley, who served as an intern in Thailand during 2022, and in late 2023 will return to Thailand for a one-year term.

Bishop Todd Fetters led the ordination service for seven persons.

Bishop Todd Fetters ordained seven persons as elders in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. This is always a highlight of National Conference. Those persons were:

  • Brad North, senior pastor of South Scipio UB church (Harlan, Ind.).
  • Jerald Jones, senior pastor of McCallum UB church (Delton, Mich.).
  • Jennifer Smith, Women’s Pastor at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • Aaron deNeui, senior pastor of Philomath UB church (Philomath, Oregon).
  • Sam Ward, Worship Pastor at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.).
  • Rick Tawney, church planter and pastor of First UB church (Columbus, Ohio).
  • Eric Griffon, Worship Pastor at Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.).

Bishop Fetters closed the service with some personal remarks, including a big thanks to the awesome productions team, and sent people on their way. To Love, to Live Like Jesus, and to Light the World.

And then it was over.

Rev. Dan and Jane Kopp

Rev. Dan Kopp, a UB minister since 1980, passed away July 7, 2023, on his 65th birthday. Dan had battled stage 4 gallbladder cancer for the past year.

Dan grew up in the United Brethren church, the son of Rev. Clarence A. Kopp, Jr., who served as bishop 1981-1993. Dan graduated from Huntington University in 1980 with degrees in Psychology and Christian Education, and in 1982 received the Master of Christian Ministries from the HU graduate school. He was ordained that year.

Most of Dan’s career involved pastoring two churches that he and his wife, Jane, started: First Love UB in Reynoldsburg, Ohio (1984-1998), and NorthPointe UB in Lewis Center, Ohio (1999-2017).

Funeral arrangements are not yet available.

The 2023 US National Conference is only a few days away. It will begin July 11 at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind. Currently, about 530 people are registered.

Livestream of Keynote Services
The four main services are open to anyone to attend. You don’t need to be registered for the conference. Just come and enjoy the services.

Those four main services will also be livestreamed, so you can participate from afar. Click on this link.

Those four services are:

  • July 11: Opening service at 6:30 pm. Dr. Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is the speaker.
  • July 12: Evening service at 6:30 pm. Dr. Kim will speak again.
  • July 13: Evening service at 6:30 pm. Frank Yang and Steve Fish, from UB Global, will speak.
  • July 14: Closing service at 9:30 am. Bishop Todd Fetters will speak. The service will include seven ordinations and a commissioning service.

Open the church to people to come watch on the sanctuary screen. Maybe share a meal together beforehand. Or invite fellow parishioners to your home to watch a service together. Though not attending in person, you can still participate.

Business Session on July 12
The morning and afternoon of the second day–Wednesday, July 12–are devoted to business. The delegates will consider nearly 30 different proposals, seven of them from the Human Reproduction Task Force. All have now been posted on the Reports page on the UB website.

Take a look at the reports. You’ll learn a lot about what’s been happening in the United Brethren world during the past two years.

Marilyn Waters

Marilyn Waters passed away May 26, 2023. A funeral service was held on June 16 in Harlan, Ind.

In 1996, Marilyn joined the staff of the UB National Office to manage the denominational bookstore. She has diligently handled all curriculum orders from United Brethren churches, shipping out thousands of pieces of Sunday school literature and other materials every quarter. She retired from that position in May 2011, after having served for 15 years. Many UBs across the denomination would have interacted with Marilyn.