Eastside Academy Seniors: Abby’s Story

Over the next few weeks, BelPres Missions will be sharing stories of the nine seniors scheduled to graduate from Eastside Academy this June. Here is Abby’s story.

My struggles began after my parents got divorced.  I became really sad and depressed.  My support system had always been my Dad, so when he left, I found myself struggling.

My freshman year of high school, my grades began to slip. I didn’t understand anything I was learning in a big classroom. I was very shy, and was afraid to speak up. I felt dumb. It was horrible, and I just didn’t know how to do well. I didn’t see myself able to graduate from high school, so I just stopped going to school all together.

I heard about Eastside Academy from a friend. I wasn’t sure about it at first, because I needed help academically, and not as much personally. It was hard at first and when I started counseling a lot of my past came out. I thought I was at Eastside Academy for academic help, but when I started to talk to counselors, I realized it was much more than that. I witnessed past abuse, and it helped me to see that a lot of things I went through were bottled up inside.

Last year, I wanted to do Running Start at Bellevue College.  Instead I actually chose to put off Running Start so I could continue with my Recovery Class at EA.  I knew that if I didn’t come to this class, I would stop reaching out to get help.

I plan to start at a community college in Seattle. I will first get my academic requirements completed, and then transfer to a four year university. I’m going to explore my options, but I know I want to do something that uses my art skills.

Tell Them We Are Not Terrorists

By Rev Rich Leatherberry 

“Tell them we are not terrorists”, she says in response to our question; “What would you say to our congregations?” She is 17, a Christian, in her senior year of high school and hoping to attend college next year. She is bright, well spoken and looks like any other 17 year old here in Bellevue with one big exception. She is Palestinian and lives with an international stereotype which, like the 26 foot wall that separates her from the rest of the world, prevents us from ever knowing who she really is. All her dreams, hopes and aspirations will remain hidden behind the wall and obscured by the stereotype assigned to her for the rest of her life. Because of the economic insecurity created by life behind the wall, she will graduate from college but will live most of her adult life unemployed and poor. Unless something changes.

“Hope” is a 4-week class I am teaching in May. The class will provide an overview of what is going on in Israel/Palestine; examine the varying perspectives and biases which influence the way we interpret current events there; look at the Bible and what it has to say about what God might want for Israel/Palestine; and how we can bring change.

Personally, my experience with Israel/Palestine has caused me to examine my own faith walk with Jesus. It has questioned how I view the world as a follower of Jesus and what I allow to influence my worldview. It has questioned my own sense of calling and how God might want to use me each day. It has questioned the way I interpret the Bible and how I allow it to speak into my life today. The truth is that Israel/Palestine is making me a different follower of Jesus.

My hope for you who take this class is that Israel/Palestine will be an outward journey of discovery, discussion and decision around what is happening and the people who live there. I also hope this class will launch you on an inward journey to examine your own faith and help you become a different follower of Jesus.

Letter from the editor

As a student in the Comparative Religion program at the University of Washington, I was one of ten students in my cohort and the only one who did not practice the religion I studied (Islam). While my fellow students were not raised in these traditions, at some point they made the decision to convert and become Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Wiccan, and Taoist, among others.

I often wondered what caused their conversion. Answers ranged from purpose, to morality, to the environment, and in one case, to being accepted by her husband’s family. I understand the interest in studying these religions more closely. Perhaps you will reach enlightenment, or you will “catch up” to those who have been part of the religious tradition their whole life. (more…)

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

May 25, 2015

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Please join us in thanking and honoring the sacrifice of military men and women who died serving the nation during war.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

Psalm 27:3-4

If You Are Real

It was dark and roughly two in the morning; while it seemed everyone else in the world was sound asleep, my friend was about to face the worst night of his life. Time seemed infinite as nausea and pain endlessly cascaded around him. He lay helpless in the face of the apathetic dark until morning.

Years of substance abuse and neglect of his health had come to a head; his body rejecting all the poison that had built up over the years. He was detoxing, but without help. A high fever, constant sweats, vomiting and the shakes: all perks of your body letting you know it’s had enough. In his own words, “I felt like I was dying. It was really bad.” (more…)

A Hallelujah Chorus for Christ’s Victory

Here’s an exercise: take a piece of paper and write down four of the biggest, best things that have ever happened in your life. Maybe the birth of a child or your wedding day, the day you got the job offer of a lifetime, your college graduation or that of your last kid. Now, think of a famous piece of music that would be the perfect soundtrack for each moment.

Just curious, did you pick “Halleluiah Chorus” for one of them? Is it running in your head right now? (more…)

Learning to summit

As a young professional, I often think I’m supposed to have it all figured out. But instead, I frequently feel like I’ve hit the “awkward teenage” phase of my career. I’m eagerly taking on a rapidly growing list of responsibilities and leadership roles, but I don’t necessarily have enough experience and confidence to guide some of the key decisions headed my way. Last year, the Global Leadership Summit was a reminder of all the ways the Lord was guiding my decisions in every single aspect of my life, and that being a leader isn’t just about how I manage projects or a team from 9-5. It is about how I live every moment of every day. (more…)

Origin has left the building!

God is on the move here in Bellevue. On January 11, the Seattle Times article, “Downtown Bellevue Gets Younger in a Hurry, With Much More Growth On the Way”*, cited that the average age in downtown Bellevue in 2000 was 57; in 2015, the average age is 34 years old. Chalk it up to all the new tech companies bringing in a younger population or the new karaoke bar that opened downtown. Whatever the reason, more young adults are flooding Bellevue and the Eastside. In keeping with that trend, Origin, the weekly gathering of young adults at BelPres, decided to think outside the box (quite literally). (more…)

Dodgeball and Duncan

The Adventures of the High School Spring Deeper Retreat

Back in March, the high school department had the privilege of taking a group of about 35 students down to Gig Harbor for the spring Deeper Retreat. Early that Friday afternoon, four student leaders and two staff members drove down to the lodge and prepared the space.

Lights were hung, goodies bags were made, and snacks were purchased, all to ensure the space was ready for the students’ arrival. (more…)

Man Up, Show Up, God’s Calling Us

What do the San Diego Chargers’ Doug Legursky, astronaut Jon McBride, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, 30 Days), former New Jersey Nets player Tamar Slay, and groovy singer Bill Withers (Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine) have in common? They’re all from the town of Beckley, West Virginia, where I worked at a church as youth and education coordinator in the 1990s. (more…)

The Chocolate Box

One evening before a trip home to Christchurch, New Zealand, I finalized plans with my cousin Dorothy. Just before hanging up, she added a teaser.

“Oh, and Francis, when you come home, I have something to give you.” Intrigued, I pressed her for more details. She adamantly refused. “No,” she insisted, “I will give it to you when you are here.” I had no idea that her package would hold the key to unlocking my lifelong struggles with self-acceptance and love. (more…)

Behind the Scenes with Andy Taber

Let me introduce you to our behind the scenes volunteer for the month. In a nutshell, he’s a true candidate for “The Apprentice.” He has the street smarts and the education. His specialty? A hammer. “My dad taught me how to use a hammer, and then I went to college to understand the business side of the hammer.” Our church and community have been fortunate to be the recipients of Andy Taber’s talent. (more…)

Call for articles

We recognize that BelPres is full of many inspiring stories that detail God’s work and presence throughout the congregation. While we sometimes hear of these stories, most of the time they go unrecognized. We would like to extend an invitation to submit articles (300-600 words) to the Messenger.

Guidelines for Articles:

The Messenger is a publication provided by Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Full of inspiring true to life stories of people’s walk with Christ, their struggles and triumphs, in order to help lift one another up in Christ.

To submit your piece for consideration, please email Katie McRoberts at KMcRoberts@belpres.org.

Birth Announcements May 2015

Georgia Amari-Ellisa Haase
Born 2-25-15 to
Julie Haase

Joshua Men Russell Tran
Born 11-2-14 to
Linsey and John Tran

Bowen Baxter Van Cleave
Born 1-29-15 to
Alisa and Jared Van Cleave

James Grayson Soules
Born 1-14-15 to
Jocelyn and Ryan Soules

Hayden Michael McLaughlin
Born 2-17-15 to
Jessica and Michael McLaughlin

Axel Robert Bean
Born 12-4-14 to
Emmy and Joshua Bean

Samuel Joseph Flemer
Born 3-11-15 to
Kristen and Jonathan Flemer

Conner Riley and Nathan James Irwin
Born 1-31-15 to
Jeannette Fassbind and Jason Irwin

The New Baby ministry seeks to greet new babies in our church community with the love of Christ. If you know of a family who is due to have a baby or adopt a baby in the coming months please contact Jenelle Mullet,  jmullet@belpres.org, so we may include them in this ministry.