Church is a group of believers. So it is diverse in that every believer is unique, yet is one in that every believer has many things in common, notably faith (Eph. 4:4,5). The church was formed when Jesus ascended into heaven. About one hundred and twenty people gathered in Jerusalem, stayed in one place, and prayed together waiting for the Holy Spirit Jesus had promised (Acts 1:14). After the Holy Spirit came upon them Peter spoke boldly about Jesus in front of the public. On that day about three thousand were added to the church (Acts 1:41). The church bounded in number (Acts 2:47). As the church expanded, she faced many problems as well. For example, she had to care for widows that had not been the plan of the church. To handle many practical problems in the early church the Apostles appointed seven stewards (Acts 6:5). No Apostles had any blue print on running the church as an organization. The church was the outcome of their devotion to world mission. So the infrastructure of the church was flexible and adaptable as needed. As time passed, the church took its own course and made its own shape. For example, it became the imperial state church by AD 400. At her climax around AD 1200 every person born in Europe was born into one church - the Catholic. Then the religious reformation came and the church was diversified into many independent organizations. The UBF has become one of them.
The smallest, yet an independent, unit in our church is chapter. It is independent in that it manages its own worship service and finance. The name chapter in UBF was coined for convenience. The general definition is a local branch of an organization, such as a club or fraternity. The is used for all kinds of branches on campus. For example, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVF) calls its branch in Chicago, the Chicago chapter of IVF. So our church serving the students at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is called the IIT chapter. This reflects the characteristics of our church. Our church has been devoted to the students on campus. The primary mission is to reach out students on campus, help them to confess that Jesus is the Christ, and raise them as his disciple.
In the beginning there was only chapter. It spread to the whole world. Now North America alone has about one hundred chapters. The size of chapter varies dramatically from one member to hundreds of them. When one missionary goes abroad, starts a new chapter, and holds the first Sunday worship service, he is the only one in the service. Some chapters have more than 50 people, which is often bigger than other local community churches that serve neighbors. The age of the chapter also varies dramatically from new born to as old as UBF itself. After celebrating the 50th anniversary of UBF, so many varieties exist among the chapters. Every year several new chapters are born and several old chapters are closed. Starting chapters struggle with gaining members and raising ancestors of faith. Established chapters struggle with passing leadership to next generation. The story of succession alone varies from one chapter to another. Some chapters face rough transition and some, smooth and ordered transition.
Each chapter has its own story to tell according to its own circumstance. The story is about its birth, growth and struggle. It includes any activities or interactions with other chapters or organizations. Any significant events, conflicts, issues, victories and memorable episodes will be part of the chapter history. The story of each chapter will be unique while it retains something common as part of the UBF church. The chapter history will be a building block for a regional, national, continental and world history.
Writing a history is not an easy task. Although many reports, news, prayer topics and messages are produced by each chapter that shed light on the history, those do not become naturally a history book. Some dedicated people should review the written documents and interview people, have an insight toward certain events and weave them into a story with a perspective to construct many important lessons for next generation. When Founders Day Committee asked Korea to write a history of pioneering Seoul in 2003, Mark Yang took it upon his shoulder and spent many months on writing the history. Jose Ahn visited Korea and spent time with him during his writing. Even after such toils and labors, Mark Yang confessed, "I do not expect it to be the master piece. I will be happy if there is less criticism on my writing than I am ready for." Despite his humble statement, we now have the history of the chapters in Seoul, Korea, especially in early stage.
We will promote the writing of history in two ways. First, each year the committee will pick one or two countries after consulting the general director, continental coordinators or national coordinators as deemed appropriate. Then the committee will work closely with the national coordinator. The national coordinator will form its own committee for the task. We will interact with them as needed and follow up on their writings. Then we will invite some speakers to present the materials during one of our world mission nights in Chicago, mostly around March. On parallel we will post the materials on the web site. In this way, the chapter history will be built up by country as years go by.
Secondly, we will work with any chapters around the world who will celebrate their anniversary. We believe that it is a good practice for any chapter with members more than twenty to hold an anniversary every score. In this way the chapter will have an opportunity to review its past and define its future accordingly. In fact, some chapters have done so. For example, in 2009 Germany celebrated the 40th anniversary and published a book entitled "European UBF Missionary History." We hope that more chapters do so for their growth and encouragement.