Our Worldwide Churches
Everything started in the United States in 1800. Since then, United Brethren churches have formed in nearly 20 countries around the world. Here is a summary of our national conferences and mission districts.
11 Churches | National Conference
Not only is Canada the closest trading partner of the United States politically, but also its strongest partner in missions. Global Ministries serves both our US and Canadian United Brethren churches. All of the Canadian churches are located in Ontario Province.
The Canadian churches have taken a strong interest in Haiti since the Haitian churches affiliated with us in 2000. Canada’s missions team provides primary oversight for of Haiti, and UB people from Canada regularly travel to Haiti.
Through the years, Sierra Leone has been our largest mission field. Missionaries were sent in 1855, and the first two churches were organized in 1876. The work grew to include a hospital, dozens of primary schools, five high schools, and over 50 churches.
In 1994, all UB missionaries were evacuated because of the rebel war which continued throughout the 1990s and devastated the country. By 2001, a high degree of peace had returned to Sierra Leone, and our churches began rebuilding and expanding. The conference now consists of roughly 78 churches, 40 primary schools, 5 high schools, and Mattru Hospital, a highly-respected hospital in southern Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone Conference has a sister congregation in Berlin, Germany, which consists primarily of immigrants from Sierra Leone. The Conference also has a strong relationship with ten churches in Liberia.
We have over 100 churches in Honduras, mostly in the northern part of the country around San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba (the nation’s second- and third-largest cities). La Ceiba has been the conference headquarters throughout its history. Honduras Conference, for many years, has been a pacesetter in the denomination in starting new churches.
Honduras Conference was instrumental in sending ministers to start Nicaragua Conference in the 1960s. They also provide oversight of the El Salvador mission district.
A national conferences consist of at least five United Brethren churches in a single country. They are self-governing. We currently have nine national conferences: United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and Hong Kong.
Every three years, the national conferences send two representatives to General Conference, a meeting of the international fellowship of United Brethren national conferences.
Mission districts consist of churches which haven’t organized as a national conference–either because they don’t meet the requirements of a national conference, or they just aren’t ready to take that step.
Mission districts are under the supervision of an existing national conference. We currently have mission districts in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Haiti, India, Macau, and Thailand.
Jamaica Conference began in 1944 under the leadership of Jimmy O’Sullivan, a native of Jamaica who had been living and studying in the United States. He began working in Jamaica under the auspices of Global Ministries. The conference was formally organized in 1951 with 11 churches.
The Jamaican churches have been under national leadership throughout their history with the exception of 1964-1968, when missionary Jerry Datema served there as conference superintendent. The highest elected leader is the bishop.
Nicaragua Conference includes over 30 churches, most of them located in the western part of the country around Managua and Masaya. All have arisen since 1965. Nicaragua also oversees the churches it pioneered in Costa Rica. In addition. Nicaragua was instrumental in bringing the churches in Guatemala under the United Brethren umbrella.
Nicaragua is the first “third generation” national conference–started by Honduras Conference, which in turn was started by the US National Conference. That would make Guatemala a fourth-generation conference.
The churches of Nicaragua were organized as a self-governing conference in 1993. They have always been under national leadership.
A group of churches in central Mexico affiliated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1997. The initial contacts with Mexico came through contacts in several Hispanic churches in California.
Rev. Denis Casco was then director of Latin American Ministries for the denomination, began connecting with the churches in Mexico, and strong relationships were formed.
At the 2005 General Conference, Mexico was accepted as a national conference. Mexico chose Denis Casco as its bishop.
Most of the Mexico churches are located in the central part of the country, near Mexico City. However, there is also a cluster of churches located in Juarez, Mexico.
Hong Kong Conference consists of eight churches, with an attendance of around 750 people. The conference was officially organized in 1962. They have always been under national (rather than missionary) leadership.
Hong Kong has been aggressive in reaching beyond itself, helping start ministry in Thailand, Macau, the US, Canada, and Poland.
In 1997, control of Hong Kong was transferred from Great Britain to China. As a “special administrative region,” Hong Kong enjoys many freedoms and privileges not found elsewhere in China.
The churches of Guatemala Conference began in 1997 when two families began meeting in their homes. The movement grew through extensive evangelism and the development of lay leaders. Like many of our Central American ministries, most of the UB churches in Guatemala minister to the poorest of the poor.
In 2000, a UB leader from Nicaragua stopped in Guatemala for a few days while on his way to Mexico. He became acquainted with these churches, and they inquired about the United Brethren denomination. One thing led to another, and they became a mission district under the supervision of Nicaragua Conference. Then, in 2010, the Guatemala churches were accepted as a new national conference.
United Brethren work in Haiti began when Rev. Oliam Richard, a Haitian minister then living in Paris, France, learned about the United Brethren church through the UB website. He was supervising a group of churches in Haiti and wanted to find a group for them to affiliate with. Contacts were made.
In October 2000, Global Ministries decided to launch into Haiti. Rev. Richard moved back to Haiti to personally supervise the Haitian churches. The Haitian churches are a mission district under the supervision of the UB Church in Canada.
In 1999, the UB churches of Nicaragua, Honduras, and the United States partnered to begin working in El Salvador. That work is now under the supervision of Honduras Conference.
In 2007, the Hondurans sent their best church planter, Rev. Gonzalo Alas, to start a church planting movement in El Salvador. Rev. Alas had been working in the Copan region of Honduras where previously there were no UB churches. When he left Copan to go to El Salvador, 13 established churches and 5 church plants were functioning.
The work in Costa Rica began in 1995 as an outreach of Nicaragua Conference. A Nicaraguan pastor who had married a Costa Rican woman spearheaded the work in an impoverished section of San Jose, the nation’s capital. Several churches have arisen, but we are currently down to just one church in an extremely poor–and dangerous–section of San Jose. It operates under the supervision of Nicaragua Conference.
10 Churches | Mission District
In 1974, we began supporting a missionary couple in India. They became involved in various other ministries, including a large Bible correspondence program and radio ministry. In the late 1970s, they began working with Indian ministers to start churches in remote Hindu “tribal” areas. The United States provides oversight of the work in India.
In the mid-1980s, Hong Kong Conference and Global Ministries partnered to start churches in Macau, a peninsula west of Hong Kong off of the Chinese mainland. The United States provided two families, and Hong Kong provided a Chinese coworker. Many Global Ministries staff and volunteers have served in Macau over the years. Teaching conversational English has been an important tool for developing relationships with Chinese people.
Two UB churches now exist in Macau. In 1999, Macau became part of China (it had been governed by Portugal). More recently, Macau passed Las Vegas as the world’s gambling capital.
In 1994, Hong Kong began working among the Akha people high in the mountains of northern Thailand, on the border with Myanmar, in the area known as the Golden Triangle. The Akha are a group of people who migrated from China in the early 1900s. Rev. H. M. Lee, a Thai minister, has spearheaded the work from the beginning. The work includes churches and schools in two villages. Hundreds of people have become Christians in this predominantly Buddhist area.
1 Church | Mission District
In 1997, Eric Mustapha, an ordained minister from Sierra Leone Conference, fled the civil war and resettled in Berlin, Germany. He started a church consisting mostly of other Sierra Leone immigrants. Mustapha later relocated to London, but another Sierra Leone minister, Peter Mansary, assumed leadership of the church.
Peter attended the Sierra Leone conference meeting in 2006 and said, “We’re a United Brethren church, and have come back to our roots for a relationship.” He asked Sierra Leone to accept them as a mission district, and the conference agreed.