The United Brethren denomination officially organized in 1800, after 33 years as an unorganized movement. For the first 50 years, the church focused on expanding westward from its roots in Pennsylvania, and into Ontario, Canada. By 1855, churches had been established from coast to coast.
Global Ministries got its start in 1853, when the denomination formed what was called the Home, Frontier, and Foreign Missionary Society. A few decades later, the Women’s Missionary Association began sponsoring its own work. Our overseas efforts were fragmented until those two groups merged in 1965 to form the Department of Missions. In 2001, our international work adopted the name Global Ministries, and in 2017, it became UB Global.
Over the years, the church has branched into a number of countries. Sometimes we pioneered new work, starting churches from scratch (Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Macau, among others). Other times we adopted churches that wanted to affiliate with us (Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, Liberia, and others).
Today, United Brethren churches exist in 17 countries–about 500 churches total. Each country has its own interesting story.
United Brethren overseas mission work began in 1855, when three UB ministers sailed for Sierra Leone, West Africa. More missionaries soon followed. The work was very difficult, but we persisted. The denomination remained focused solely on Sierra Leone for the next 80 years.
Finally, in 1932, we started mission work in another part of the world–China. A school for Chinese immigrants in Oregon provided the bridge to China. World War 2 and the communist takeover in 1948 forced our workers to relocate to Hong Kong, which was under British rule until 1997. Hong Kong remains the center of our work in Asia.
In 1945, we started work in Jamaica and Honduras, both under entirely different circumstances. In the case of Jamaica, we originally intended to launch into the Bahamas, but a hurricane and other circumstances led us to Jamaica instead. In Honduras, a group of five English-speaking churches on the north coast chose to affiliate with us.
Expansion proceeded at a slow pace. Twenty years after the start of work in Jamaica and Honduras, we began church work in Nicaragua. Then another 20 years passed until, in 1987, the United States and Hong Kong partnered to begin churches in Macau, a Portuguese-governed peninsula on the Chinese coast (Macau reverted to China in 1999).
Then came the 1990s, during which the United Brethren church expanded into a number of new countries.
Today, UBGlobal focuses on several areas: