In early January 2004, Russ and Nellie Birdsall will be making their sixth short-term trip to Macau. They will work in the English Language Program, teach Bible studies, do leadership development with the pastors of Macau and Hong Kong, and build relationships with the people of Macau and Taipa.

A video has been prepared featuring Russ and Nellie as they share about their love for Macau and how they want to be used by God during the retirement years. If you are interested in using this video in your church, contact the Global Ministry office at 1-888-622-3019 and we will provide one.

Also if you would like to help the Birdsalls financially in their ministry, you can make out a check to Global Ministries and on the memo line note that this gift is for the Birdsalls ministry in Macau. You can also give online via credit card through Paypal. Those gifts are tax deductible.

June Brown, former missionary to Sierra Leone, underwent quadruple bypass surgery in late September in Harrisburg, Pa. That surgery went very well and she experienced a relatively short recovery period. In early November, June had a lumpectomy to remove a cancerous tumor. The doctor feels that the cancer was self-contained, and while June will be undergoing radiation treatments, the doctors are quite positive about her overall medical condition. If you would like to send cards of greetings and encouragement to her, the address is:

June Brown
2716 Rocky Spring Road
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Our missionary couple in India wanted United Brethren people to be aware of an incident which occurred November 19 in Shadnagar, in the same state where they serve.

“A team of 20 American Christians (8 women) came from Florida to this town to do some Christian work through a small school for elementary school children and to help the women by giving them sewing machines so that could earn their livelihood through tailoring. For this purpose a building was rented.

“The local Christians and their American friends were inaugurating the work in the back yard of their office, with a good number attending. While they were praying, the Hindu fundamentalist party (BJP) group came and shouted that they were converting people to Christianity. The Indian Christians who were hosting these were beaten up. The crowd ran away and the Americans went into the van they came in. Soon police came and the BJP group quickly disappeared.

“The people said that the Americans and Indian Christian groups were trying to help them by donating sewing machines and doing a child literacy program. People also said the visitors only prayed but never asked them to become Christians.

“This incident was shown in our local and state news channels. We cannot believe what happened. The Christians did not officially complain to the police. The police say that they will not act unless they receive a complaint. We think the Christians decided to remain silent as probably they Americans came on tourist visas, which legally complicates the picture.”

The UB Executive Leadership Team met on December 9 with the Missionary Church Transition Team. A process for joining the two denominations was agreed upon, and 36 questions which have arisen in United Brethren circles were discussed. On most of those issues, statements were agreed upon, and will be published here around mid-December. A mailing to United Brethren ministers is being prepared. The material–including all of the agreed-upon statements–will then be published on the website.

  • Sunfield UB hired two persons to care for their youth ministry. Dennis Weber will work with junior high students, and Raquel Brace will work with senior high students. Also, Roy Atherton joined the staff as Assistant Pastor. He is from Portland, Mich.
  • Shannon Colwin, formerly the youth pastor at Good Shepherd Church in Huntington, has resigned that position as of July 13, 2003. He is serving in another denomination.
  • Jennifer Barlow resigned as Youth Pastor at First UB (Columbus, Ohio) as of July 31.
  • This month Rev. Bobby Blaine celebrates his 60th year of ministry. He took his first church the same week that he and Virginia were married…which means they are also celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Rev. Blaine is a retired minister in Central Conference, and the former longtime pastor of what is now Good Shepherd UB in Greenfield, Ohio.
  • Jim Sturgeon and his wife Joanne, having retired August 31 from the pastorate of Decatur UB (Decatur, Ind.), have moved to Rockford, Ohio.
  • It has been learned that William M. Wood, a retired minister in Central Conference, passed away in June.
  • Nathan Garret has been hired as youth pastor at New Horizons UB (Rockford, Ohio) effective October 10. He was most recently youth director at Shadyrest Bible Church in Chesterfield, N. J.
  • Ben and Lisa Geiser are the parents of a baby girl, Monica Ann. Ben is associate pastor at Christ Fellowship (Westerville, Ohio).

On October 13, the UB Executive Leadership Team and the conference superintendents held a special meeting in Huntington, Ind., to consider options for the future of the United Brethren church. A special study committee, having studied several options, recommended that we pursue joining with the Missionary Church, an evangelical denomination based in Fort Wayne, Ind. After meeting with the superintendents on October 13, the ELT voted unanimously to pursue joining with the Missionary Church.

This set into motion a two-year process which will require affirmation by the US National Board in April 2004, a positive vote in a referendum by the UB constituency in October 2004, and a two-thirds vote by the US National Conference in June 2005. Only the US National Conference can make the official final decision. Much discussion about this is occurring online on the UB Discussion Board. Various resources will be posted here.

Jeff Reser, associate pastor at Fowlerville UB (Fowlerville, Mich.), sent this note:

“‘Splash!’ Children’s Ministry opened shop September 7 with two sessions meeting simultaneously with the 9:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. worship services for K-6 students. The structure follows the Promiseland model at Willow Creek Community Church.

“Kids arrive at their small group, made up of other kids in the same grade, to participate in a fun game or activity together. Their small group leader has a chance to ‘catch up’ on how their week went here. After a short time of activity, all small groups gather for worship and a biblically based lesson, presented creatively, in the large group. Small groups are then dismissed to go to their designated spaces to talk about implementing the learning, to pray, and care for one another. These small groups can gather outside of the church setting so kids can build relationships with one another. They can also serve in kid-sized ministry or peer evangelism opportunities!”

On September 21, Dewitt UB (Dewitt, Mich.) celebrated ten years of ministry with Superintendent Dave Burkett and founding pastor Mike Arnold in attendance.

On October 12, Sunfield UB will dedicate a new 82-by-60 foot building addition, which will provide a fellowship area and more Sunday school classrooms. The building was begun a year ago. Former pastors and members will take part in the service. Mark Ralph is the current pastor.