Sunfield United Brethren in Christ Church in Sunfield, Mich. (25 miles west of Lansing), a congregation with a rich heritage, is looking forward to writing our next chapter of ministry. Over the past two years of working through a revitalization process, we have gained a new sense of unity of purpose in the church. Spiritual foundations and maturity are being deepened in our people. Outreach is becoming part of our DNA, resulting in new people and families becoming part of the congregation.

We are looking for a pastor who will adapt to and continue to assist us in the revitalization process. Our next pastor will have a servant-leader mentality, love and serve the church, and lead the church through biblical teaching. A strong commitment to transparency and Spirit-led ministry is essential. Demonstrated experience in helping churches move forward with biblical purpose will be a benefit. It is also expected that this individual will maintain professional ministerial credentials with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA.

Sunfield Church is a congregation of approximately 115 people (pre-COVID). Since reopening, we continue to grow, although not all have yet returned. We are known as a community that is loving, caring and friendly, with strong emphasis on missions and prayer. We are also financially strong and have the facilities, property, and staff which will enable growth.

If this sounds like something for which God has been preparing you, please send a copy of your resume, a cover letter, and a current photo to bishop@ub.org.

In July 2021, delegates from United Brethren churches in the United States will gather for the biennial US National Conference. This year, we are meeting in Fort Wayne, Ind., where we previously met in 2013.

The 2021 US National Conference will hold its business meeting on Thursday, July 15, 2021. The delegates will hear reports, and will elect a bishop and four members of the Executive Leadership Team. The intent is to keep other business to a minimum this year, and save any significant business for 2023 when, hopefully, the pandemic will be behind us.

The United Brethren constituency is invited to submit proposals for consideration at the 2021 business meeting. A proposal needs to come from a group or official entity — not from an individual. Examples: a local church board, cluster group, a denominational leadership team or study committee, etc.

The Bishop’s Office and the Executive Leadership Team are responsible for processing and approving proposals for presentation to the conference.

The deadline for submitting proposals is March 1, 2021. If you would like to submit a proposal for revising the Discipline, or a proposal of some other kind, please send it to: bishop@ub.org.

“It’s Not Supposed to Be Like This!”

by Bishop Todd Fetters

It’s Christmas Eve in an unprecedented year where nothing seems certain or predictable, except uncertainty and unpredictability.

But, that’s where I think 6-4 BC and Advent 2020 intersect rather extraordinarily. Something unprecedented happened then that is still impacting the world to this very day. Remember? Luke 2:6-7 will remind you.

“While [Mary and Joseph] were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

I imagine Joseph struggled with the uncertain and unpredictable events that met him in Bethlehem. Perhaps he prayed, “Heavenly Father, seriously?! It’s not supposed to be this way. No comfortable place for my pregnant wife? No soft, sanitary place for the birth of your infant Son? A stable for shelter. A straw-filled trough for a bed. Noisy, filthy animals for nursery companions. This cannot be what you were thinking as fitting for the birth of a King.”

Yep. It was supposed to be that way. The result? The Savior of the world was born.

Undoubtedly, your Christmas Eve looks, sounds, and feels different this year. Perhaps you’re struggling with how uncertainty and unpredictability have messed with your Christmas — “It’s not supposed to be this way.” But, what if it is? What if God, through the Spirit of Jesus, is about to do something unprecedented in your life that will bring glory to Him now and familiarity to you in years to come?

Don’t waste this moment. Please! Seek the Lord afresh this Christmas and find Him anew! After all, our stability is in the stable — Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.

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.

Frank Yang has been named Executive Director of UB Global, effective January 1, 2021. The UB Global board unanimously approved him for this position. He has been serving as Acting Director since June 1, 2020.

Frank and his family are members of Emmanuel Community UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind. He joined the UB Global staff in September 2011 as an associate director. His primary responsibilities have included supervising overseas staff, bringing new staff on board, and engaging local churches. He has also led UB short-term teams to Asia.

Frank was born in China, and came to the United States at a young age with his parents, growing up on the east coast. His undergraduate degree was in engineering from Cornell University, and he later earned a Master’s in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College. He worked in financial services in Fort Wayne, Hartford, and Philadelphia.

Frank and Virginia, who was already attending Emmanuel Community Church, met in Fort Wayne and were married in 2004. They served together for four years as missionaries in Asia. Soon after they returned in 2011, Frank was invited to join the UB Global staff.

Frank and Ginny have two young children. Virginia is an adjunct professor at Huntington University, teaching in the TESOL program.

Grace UB Church in Sherkston, Ontario.

The sanctuary of Grace UB church.

Brian Magnus, bishop of the United Brethren Church in Canada, reports that the Grace UB church in Sherkston, Ontario, burned to the ground during the night.

He said the the pastor’s family, living in the parsonage next to the church, noticed smoke coming from the church building around 3:30 in the morning. They immediately called 911. Fire trucks came from Sherkston, Port Colborne, Fort Erie, and even Niagara Falls.

Bishop Magnus said, “The front half (sanctuary, lobby and basement) are down to the basement foundation walls. The back half is also burned, and smoke- and water-filled, and will need to be torn down to the concrete slab.”

The parsonage has some smoke damage. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the fire.

Bishop Magnus writes, “Please be praying for this congregation. I guess the news spread and some of the church members and neighbors stood around watching the last couple of hours. They’re in shock and need God’s comfort.”

Grace UB has consistently been one of the largest contributors to United Brethren missions. Over the years, a number of UB missionaries have come from Grace, including Ruth Benner, Shirley Fretz, Kathy Jones, Audrey Federline, Olive Weaver, and Eula Eby, all of whom served in Sierra Leone.

Jana Gass has concluded nearly eight years as administrative assistant of UB Global. She will be greatly missed.

Jana joined the UB Global staff in January 2013. She planned dozens of international trips for UB Global staff and other travelers, sent countless letters and emails to keep people informed about UB missions, helped plan and coordinate aspects of the national conference meetings, and was the welcoming face and voice for guests in the UB Global building.

Jana also played an important role with the UB child sponsorship programs in India. The UB Global staffperson there, Miriam, writes:

“Jana’s efficiency, care, concern, and personal interest will be missed by me especially. She has been such a blessing in the ministry of child sponsorship. I know it was a lot of hard work for her, but she was so very patient in dealing with the last-minute changes and contacting the sponsors. I will always be grateful to her for the very important part she played in this ministry. I regret, she never had the opportunity to see first-hand the impact made by her work so many miles away. Children, touched by this sponsorship project and the differences made in their future, plus the love and concern of the sponsors was an amazing blessing. I will also miss her very welcoming smile in the office. My prayers will be with Jana as she shares her talents where the Lord will place her.”

Being a former missionary, Jana could relate to missionaries at every stage of their service. She and her husband, Herb, sensed God calling them to missions after completing the Perspectives course. In 2005, they and their two children, Alicia and Caleb, went to Papua New Guinea to serve as support workers with New Tribes Missions. While there, Jana worked in various administrative and hospitality positions.

They returned in June 2011, and the family became part of College Park UB church in Huntington. Two years later, the administrative assistant position opened up. She applied and was soon welcomed to the UB Global staff.

Jana accepted a new position with a local bank, and concluded her service with UB Global as of December 1. UB Global is grateful for Jana’s valuable work over these years and her underlying heart for world missions.

Roger and Marilyn Reeck, UB endorsed missionaries serving in Honduras with Wycliffe Bible Translators, have spent much of the year in San Antonio, Texas. Their daughter Amanda is a medical doctor in that city.

On Thanksgiving, the entire Reeck clan–the four daughters, their husbands, and the grandchildren–were all together in San Antonio. Marilyn wrote, “This is the first Thanksgiving together in a long, long time.”

However, Covid made its presence known. A number of them tested positive.

On Thanksgiving Day, Marilyn wrote, “Today, 17 days after Roger first displayed symptoms of Covid, he is doing well now in recovery mode! We are so, so thankful. God is so wonderful! Roger moved back home from Amanda’s house (which had been called the Covid house) yesterday and is so thankful to be home. Christy, her husband, and Amanda are still in the recovery stage but doing well.”

But early in the morning of December 5, Amanda’s husband, Amila, passed away. Marilyn made this announcement on Saturday:

“Our sweet son-in-law Amila Jayakody succumbed to Covid and was transported to glory today at 1 am. After being on oxygen for 2 weeks, he was transferred to a military hospital and further procedures were administered. During the week things worsened each day and the Lord silently took him home.

“Our 17-year-old grandson was at the hospital the moment Amila left this earth. He prayed: “Thank you Jesus for leaving Amila’s celebration in heaven to come to earth and suffer with us here.”

“Our daughter, Amanda, had finally found the love of her life at 35 years old and had two-and-a-half years with her Amila.

“Amila was passionate about Jesus, loved people, had a servant’s heart, and had truly become a son to us. He had strong plans for his future service in mission work.

“Praise God our whole family is here together in San Antonio and that Amanda’s three sisters were able to be with her at the hospital for the last 2 days. There will be a small family funeral in a few days.”

Please keep the Reeck family in your prayers.

L-r: Tim Sherman (chair), Christine Augustat, Kristi McConnell, Dalton Jenkins, Jeremiah Greenland, Steve Fish.

The Nominating Committee prepares the ballot for bishop and for members of the Executive Leadership Team. The following persons were appointed in July 2020 by the Executive Leadership Team. They will serve 4-year or 6-year terms starting in 2020.

  • Tim Sherman (chairperson) is senior pastor of Bethel UB church (Elmore, Ohio). Term ends: 2026.
  • Christine Augustat is Family Ministry Pastor at Fowlerville UB church (Fowlerville, Mich.). Term ends: 2026.
  • Kristi McConnell, an architect, is a layperson from Banner of Christ UB church (Byron Center, Mich.).
  • Dalton Jenkins is senior pastor of Bethel Temple of Praise (Yonkers, New York). Term ends: 2024.
  • Jeremiah Greenland, vice president of Operations at Susquehanna Civil, Inc., is a layperson from Prince Street UB church (Shippensburg, Pa.). Term ends: 2026.
  • Steve Fish is Teaching Pastor and Director of Missions at Emmanuel Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Term ends: 2024.

The Nominating Committee is currently at work preparing ballots for the 2021 US National Conference, which will elect a bishop and four members of the Executive Leadership Team.