California Annual Conference was held earlier this month. We have three Hispanic churches with Latin American Ministries in the Los Angeles area. Those three churches are now part of California Conference. The conference took in a total of five new Hispanic churches–the three with LAM, plus two new churches from its own church planting efforts.

Bishop Paul Hirschy reports, “California Conference is trying to develop a structure that gives the English-speaking churches and the Spanish-speaking churches a fair representation in the affairs of the conference. The conference superintendent, Rev. Sam Quinn, recommended appointing an English director and a Spanish director to the conference, which was approved. The English director is Rev. Jim Clayton, and the Spanish director is Rev. Edwin Recinos.”

Marda Hoffman is retiring after 24 years as the denominational Finance Director. In addition to overseeing all of the financial operations at the UB Headquarters in Huntington, Ind., she has provided all kinds of help over the years to local church pastors and treasurers. She has also filled the role of Office Manager for the UB Headquarters. Marda’s last day of work will be May 31. Her knowledge, expertise, and commitment to the UB church will be greatly missed. Marda and her husband, Jim, have a lakeside home in northern Michigan, but will continue living in Huntington for now.

Albert Beckley (right) was elected as the new General Superintendent of Sierra Leone National Conference. He replaces Rev. Joe Bob Amara, who served in that position through much of the 1990s. Rev. Beckley has been serving as Administrative Assistant for many years. He was elected during the national conference meeting in February. Six North Americans attended the February conference: Gary and Rhonda Dilley, Jason and Donna Hollopeter, and former Sierra Leone missionaries June Brown and Ruth Benner.

Melissa Hull has been one of our missionaries in Macau with the English Language Program. On Saturday, March 21, she was married to David Kline. The wedding was held at Banner of Christ UB in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Klines plan to go to Macau in the spring of 2004 to serve together as missionaries there.

The Canadian national conference is taking a major role in supporting the work in Haiti. A work team went there last fall. They have a website which tells a lot about Haiti and about that work team. You might find it quite interesting. It’s here.

Jana Hoobler sent these updates:

  • On Saturday, March 1, seven women from our ELP classes attended the new Bible Study we started. There was good discussion, and one of our Chinese church members also attended to help with answering their questions in Cantonese. On March 15, nine unsaved women came to our English Bible Study. Praise the Lord for this response…we’re loving it! Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts and help them understand the Bible as we study it together.
  • While I was on furlough, our ELP secretary took a different job, and a new one was hired. His name is Michael Chan. Michael really has a heart for ministry. Praise the Lord for a guy on our staff who can help to meet the spiritual needs of our male students. He’s holding a Bible Study with two men from the ELP on Wednesday nights.
  • Our rental contract for the Taipa Center expires in May. We have submitted a letter asking that the rent be lowered in our new contract, due to the poor economy. Pray that the property company will be favorable to our request! Also, the Education Department has asked that we make changes in our financial reports from last year to fit their bookkeeping system. Pray for Jen Blandin as she works on these changes so that these reports can be re-submitted by the end of March.
  • Continue to pray for God’s direction as we wade our way through more and more paperwork. We often get different instructions from different departments of the government, which makes it difficult to know what we really need to do to be legal. Pray for Annie, our association secretary, as she handles much of this work.

A baby girl was born to Pastor Tim and Tara Hallman of Anchor Community UB (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Emma Reigh arrived Thursday, March 13, at 5:38 a.m. (7lbs. 3 ozs., and 19.5 inches). Tim reports that Emma has “lots of thick black hair (just like her daddy) and a beautiful face, just like her mommy!”