Finding home and a hope: Jared’s Eastside Academy Story

Jared had always struggled with school, and as a result, he simply didn’t attend. His home was filled with so much dysfunction that he was never taught the most basic of life-skills.  He arrived at Eastside Academy scared and unsure of his desire to stay.  A small Christian school seemed daunting: there might be no place to hide.   And then, almost as soon as he started, he found out that Eastside Academy hosts a two-day fall retreat for all of their students, he was really unsure of what lay ahead. However, he quickly learned that this retreat provided him with opportunities he had never dreamed of.

They were going to l10408809_10152713425601445_6823308324329766019_net him ride a motorcycle for the first time?   The staff were willing to jump in and get shot up playing paintball alongside the students?  (Guess who won?)   Each person got hoisted into a crazy ropes course and cheered each other along.   Students formed teams and performed ski
ts by a fire pit late at night.  And then, a “chaplain” talked about Jesus in a different way.  Jesus…present in Jared’s suffering.  Jesus…a steady voice in the darkness.  Jared began to realize for the first time that he was surrounded by people who deeply value him and want him to succeed.  He found a place where he could be himself.

Eastside Academy serves teens that other programs cannot or will not serve and serves them in a unique way.  They provide youth with an education, addiction recovery, mental health counseling, housing, mentors, and alumni support. Twice a year, all students are taken on retreats in order for them to build relationships, have new experiences, get to know one another, and hear about Jesus.  Eastside Academy partners with the community to serve at-risk youth, through events such as their upcoming Dinner and Live Auction being held October 17, at the Meydenbauer Center.  Additionally, they are looking for volunteers serve as mentors to these students, providing youth with healthy relationships that can be life-changing. For students like Jared, being paired with a mentor can make the all the difference.

If you feel called to mentor an Eastside Academy student, please contact Get Connected.
For more information on Eastside Academy events or programs, please contact Elyse Nicholson, director of Development for Eastside Academy.



Letter from the Editor

My mom was a goody two-shoes growing up. Her mother freely admits to her being the “best” of her children (behavior-wise, but I have my suspicions that she means best overall), and my mom happily claims this title. As the youngest by five years, she was still in her self-styled “angelic” elementary years while her three siblings were at various stages in their terrible teenage years. Perhaps the most egregious example of her sucking up is when her sister wanted to do something their mother refused to allow even though, “All the other girls’ moms said it was fine!” Before my grandmother could answer, my mom responded, “Kristen, mother is our standard.”

When my mom tells this story now, we laugh about how her sister must have resented her and how snotty she sounded. But hearing this story recently (we are very guilty of repeat story telling in my family) made me think about how my standards are determined. (more…)

Hearing the Call of Jesus

A Meditation

Waking up and walking in the Christian light

through daily prayer strengthens our being.

After we pray, the light shines through us like a beacon.

We are willing to tear down barriers and fences that

withhold our sensitive feelings from others.

With our defenses down, we can become a blessing.

We will be able to smile and talk with others in love.

We need to practice His presence in our lives.

Our primary focus is communing with our Lord.

We make plans, but He directs our path.

He infuses our energy.

“The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with

you and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14

Going Public With Your Faith

Meet the Hannah Circle, a women’s Bible study that has been going public with their faith for years. This group provides a timely example of Moses’ charge to the people of God to have our conversations about God’s unique ways in places where we might be overheard (like walking along a road, where anyone might hear us at any time – see Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Hannah Circle meets twice monthly at a restaurant in the early morning, allowing professional women to attend. The group believes that meeting in public has provided them with opportunities large and small to share their faith, and has given others the opportunity to do the same in surprising ways. For example: (more…)

Kendy’s Calling

“It has truly been my great privilege and exceeding joy to have served as one of your pastors. I have been so honored to be part of this community – God is moving in mighty ways as BelPres serves the city and partners with Jesus in the mission for revival. I look forward to seeing God continue to bless and guide BelPres. Thank you for being the kind of community that it is almost unbearable to leave. I will miss being part of a terrific leadership team of lifelong elders, deacons, volunteers and staff, being led in amazing worship in two languages of praise and being a pastor of such a faithful, generous, innovative, and Spirit-led community.”

Last month, we celebrated the ministry of Rev. Kendy Easley who left BelPres to become the Executive Pastor/Head of Staff at Bethany Community Church in Seattle. In reflecting on Kendy’s departure, Dr. Scott Dudley shared that, “While this is a big loss for BelPres, it is a brilliant move for the Kingdom. Kendy has been indispensable in moving BelPres forward. I will miss her partnership and I am sad to see her go. However, Kendy is so talented that I know God is going to use her to continue his work of revival in the Seattle area.” 

Kendy began serving as our Executive Pastor in 2007 and previously served at BelPres from 1990–1998 leading the Prayer + Care (formerly Caring Ministries) department.  (more…)

Introducing the BelPres Elder Class of 2018

Elders are church members nominated and elected by the congregation to share in the leadership of the church and to act as liaisons between Session and
our Ministries and Departments.

Sue Bliven

Operations (Finance)

Sue has been a member of BelPres for 20 years. She has been married to Andy for 33 years, and they have three children: Spencer, Hunter, and Hillary. Sue has served as a Sunday school teacher, as an elder for Children and Family Ministries, and as a member of a pastor nominating committee. You can currently find her around the church at the GetConnected kiosk, serving communion, announcing baptisms, and greeting families who are dropping their children off at Sunday school. Sue is Director of Finance for Imagine Housing, a non-profit housing development organization located in Kirkland. (more…)

Juanita’s Books: A Nicolás Fund for Education Adventure

Juanita’s small home smelled of pine. She and her parents had strewn pine needles on the floor, a traditional Guatemalan sign of welcome for honored guests. Juanita and her parents welcomed us into their spare home, expressing gratitude for NFE supplying Juanita with her own computer and regular tutor. Standing about three feet tall, Juanita’s beauty shines through her disability.

The family presented a Mayan weaving embroidered with the words: “May the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you forever” to Al Lopus, a returning team member who had mentored Juanita. As Juanita showed us her work, she shared a poster on which she had written her three main goals: to teach her parents to read and write, to write her own story, and to help young people in her village. (more…)

Mathematics of Mentoring

As as a mentor for the staff of the Cambodian organization DOVE (Develop Our Village Economy), I continue to see how mentoring impacts the lives of leaders and builds God’s Kingdom. Mentoring involves investing significant time in building a relationship; some may wonder how investing in one person could impact a whole community. However, God’s math is different than ours!

Cambodia lost an entire generation of leaders when the Khmer Rouge regime executed anyone with an education. Today, the population’s median age is 24. Through the Onyx program, DOVE is developing young leaders who are transforming their churches and communities. Leaders, ages 17-35 and from different local churches, gather each Saturday morning for one year to learn through self-discovery and from each other’s experiences and then apply what they’ve learned during fieldwork. Topics include leadership, spiritual formation, leader’s timeline, peace and justice issues, men’s/women’s Issues, the five love languages, forgiveness, world view, and missional church. Each student also meets with a volunteer mentor once a month and with peer mentoring groups each week. The program is offered in four locations around Cambodia; BelPres supports two of these locations. (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 (600-1,000 words) to The Messenger.

Guidelines for Articles:
The Messenger is a publication provided by Bellevue Presbyterian Church. It is 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,

Spiritual Duff

Observing things in nature has always prompted me to take a closer look at my spiritual life, and the Pacific Northwest is an area filled with abundant examples.

We are blessed to have the opportunity to spend time tending a forested property in the mountains. The previous owners did not actively manage the wooded acreage, so one of our first tasks was to interface with a forestry management expert in order to learn how to make the area more fire safe. Not only did he highlight the downed branches to be disposed of and the numerous trees to be thinned and trimmed, but he also instructed us that we needed to do some work on the forest floor. He took his tool, hacked it into the pine needle covered ground and pulled up this four-inch brick-like chunk of matter. “This is called duff,” he said. “It is the result of years of accumulated pine needles, pressed down and compacted.”   (more…)


met the Lord when I was fourteen and starting high school. My family didn’t attend church and I knew nothing about God, the Bible, or the Christian faith. I only knew that I was lonely and fearful, and I wanted to know that God was real. I began attending a Bible study taught by my friend’s mom, Virginia. As a new believer, I would have been lost without her. She saw my hunger to learn about God and she gave me my first Bible. We met weekly one-on-one; she taught me about Jesus, encouraging me to discover all that God had done for me out of His great love. I grew in faith, attended a lovely church, joined the youth group and sang in the choir. In the midst of the hardness of my adolescent experience, Virginia mentored me, giving me hope and courage to stand strong in Jesus and not give up.

Fast forward to college and the beginning of my sophomore year at University of California San Diego. Due to poor decisions my freshman year, I had lost my way, and was on academic probation. My Christian roommate, a seasoned Young Life leader, saw beyond my failures and thought I had leadership potential. Not believing her, but secretly hoping it was true, I agreed to attend a Young Life leader’s meeting. There I met Steve and Kathy, team leaders for a local high school, who became mentors to me for the next twenty years. Through them I learned what a loving marriage looked like, what healthy Christian parents looked like, how to discipline myself as a student, and what it meant to humbly and joyfully serve God. (more…)

Do Not Handle It Alone

recently had the privilege of participating in a Pastors ordination. It was a humbling and eye opening experience. I have attended ordinations before, but this one was different. This particular ordination was filled with a diverse group of mentors who journeyed with the pastor being ordained. I heard stories, advice, and admonishments from new and more experienced pastors and colleagues. Reflecting on this experience, I couldn’t help but remember the story of Jethro and Moses.

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Exodus 18:17-18

In an early story in the Bible we come across an account of Jethro the father in law of Moses who recently emancipated the Israelites from under the rule of Pharaoh. After escaping Egypt, Moses was in the wilderness with thousands of families, trying to govern them and their disputes. With governing thousands of people Moses was wasting away and so were the people. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law whom Moses worked for years as a shepherd, recognized the issue immediately and gave wise counsel to Moses on how to handle the situation. He pointed out the fact that Moses, “…cannot handle it alone,” Exodus 18:18b. (more…)

Behind the Scenes with Jim Arthur

Never underestimate the influence of a good woman – or a trombone. Jim Arthur claims that his trombone and wife were instrumental in bringing him back to church after a hiatus for most of his adult life. 

About 11 years ago, the couple went to a concert at a church in Seattle and happened upon a friend who played the trombone. Knowing Jim played the trombone, the friend invited Jim to come join an active trombone group at BelPres. Jim was hesitant, “I heard that Bellevue was where the snobs lived and we’re just not like that,” but his wife encouraged him to go. It was a rough start to feel welcome in the group, yet he came back. Jim and his wife, Liz, thoroughly enjoyed the services when Jim played and began attending regularly. Apparently, the congregation redeemed themselves. As Jim puts it, “Turns out they were very friendly!”  (more…)

Birth Announcements October 2015

Samuel James Hultman
Born 7-13-15 to
Eric and Young-Mi Hultman

Caleb Joseph Bourne
Born 7-10-15 to
Joe and Kristie Bourne

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 Di Alexander,, or in the Church Office, 425-454-3082, so we may include them in this ministry.

Discover + Live Your Purpose Webinar

What if God is calling you, but you don’t know how to hear?  When Ted and I first heard the call to mission with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), we didn’t know what we were hearing.  I well remember that Sunday, when after an MAF missionary did the “minute for mission,” Ted looked at me and said, “If I were ever going to do missions, it’d be something like that.”  I looked at him and said, “Let’s do it!”  Then we both laughed and forgot about it.  It wasn’t until nearly 9 years later, and a lot of late-night what-do-we-want-to-be-when-we-grow-up conversations that we finally realized that our continued interest in MAF might be God calling us into service.

Now, maybe you’re sulargere you’ve never had a situation like ours.  But how do you know?  How do people go about discerning what God is calling them into? Or how do people know that God is using them where they are? Right now, we have a unique opportunity at BelPres to learn just what it means to be called by God.

Discover + Live Your Purpose, a 4 week webinar on calling, is coming up October 7, 14, 21, & 28.  Taught by a bunch of cool people (see FAQ, below) who have experienced God’s call on their lives, this is a great chance to discover how God wants to use you, personally, and where.  Maybe it’s right where you are.  Maybe it’s something new in your neighborhood or city.  Or maybe God is calling you to far-off lands.  If you’ve ever wondered, this webinar is for you.

Be aware, though, that the company we’re using to present the webinar allows only 100 participants.  For a church as large as ours, that’s not a lot of spots.  One way to attend would be to register one person from your small group, the one with the largest monitor, then all gather to watch and participate together.  However you do it, I urge you to involve yourself in this webinar.  God is calling you.  Do you know how to listen?  Register Here.


Discover and Live Your Purpose Webinar FAQs

Where do I register for the webinar?

Click on the following link to register:

What is the cost to register?

Registration is free, but it is limited to 100 registrants.

Can I watch the webinar with other people?

Yes, the registration is limited to 100 people (computers) but multiple people can watch together from the same computer.  We prefer everyone registers who will watch the webinar so we have an accurate attendance even if they are sharing an attendee login (computer).

What if I can’t watch all 4?

It’s OK if you miss one, your access code will work for all sessions and we hope to rebroadcast the webinar in January 2016. We will follow up in a few months with options to view the webinar again.

Do I need to have technical skills to be able to receive and be part of the webinar?

No. But you should plan on logging on to the webinar about 10 minutes before it starts to get it up and running.  There will be a download from Citrix to run the webinar included. A side bar will feature a place to ask questions for the presenters and if you have technical issues.   Jesse, our host, will also give you instructions about how to interact.

Who is teaching the webinar?

Several of our staff members/pastors are presenting.

Week 1 (Oct 7)  will feature Scott Dudley speaking about “Created for a Purpose”

Week 2 (Oct 14) will feature Annie Duncan and Rich Leatherberry speaking about “Our Primary Purpose”

Week 3  (Oct 21) will feature Ryan Beattie and Scott Mann speaking about  “Your Individual Calling”

Week 4 (Oct 28) will feature Jess Rice speaking about “How to Live Your Call”

How long does each webinar last?

Each webinar lasts 1 hour (7pm to 8pm)

If I have other questions, who should I ask?

Contact Elizabeth Hayford in the Mission and Serve Department

First Responders Need Prayer

This summer Washington State has experienced catastrophic wildfires, with devastating loss of property and lives. Community Outreach mission partner, Mike Ryan, Chaplain for the Bellevue Fire Department and the Bellevue Police Department, let us know the impact the fires have had on our local fire departments and first responders. Mike states, “Between Bellevue, Eastside and Duvall Fire Departments, 30 first responders traveled across the state to fight the wildfires. The County also sent a significant amount of equipment. All of the fire service family felt the p2611ain of the loss of life suffered in Okanogan County. For the fatalities suffered in Twisp, Seattle Fire sent a team of peers to lead critical incident stress management efforts, and the Federation of Fire Chaplains provided support directly to the agencies and families impacted.”

The heartbreaking loss of the firefighters in the wildfires impacts our community of first responders deeply. Bellevue Fire Department continues to have 8 firefighters on the wildfire teams. Additionally, as law enforcement across our country have been randomly targeted and attacked, BelPres Community Outreach is raising the call for leadership for our Bellevue Police Prayer Partner Team. We recognize that our first responders and their families are sacrificially giving to serve and protect our community, and we are called as a church to care for them through our prayers. If you are interested in helping to organize this year’s team of prayer warriors in partnership with local law enforcement and Community Outreach, please contact Mary McCracken, Community Outreach Director.

Responding to the Refugee Crisis in Syria

As more and more people are requesting information about how they can respond to the refugee crisis in Syria, it seemed like a good idea to provide some sources.

First, it is good to know that BelPres was able to put 10,000 from the general fund to the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance both in the Syrian Refugee crisis, and to Forest Fire relief here in Washington.  Of course, the magnitude of the refugee crisis is staggering, so we wanted to provide resources for those who feel called to go beyond, to DO something.

BelPres Global Outreach, through Becky Gonzalez, has been working for the last two years with one of our mission partners (not named here, because of the sensitive nature of their work) specifically to be involved in the ongoing refugee crisis coming out of Syria. That work will continue. (ed. In first posting, this working relationship was incorrectly desribed as with World Relief.  We do work with World Relief, just not for the last two years to work with Syrian refugees. Our apologies for the error.)

World Relief Seattle has plans to bring refugees here to the Seattle area for resettlement. If you are looking to get involved in relief for Syrian refugees on a local level, click HERE.

Both Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the World Relief sites are pointing people to this petition, which calls on the US President and government to resettle 65,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.  Several BelPres members have read and signed.

World Concern is also active in Syrian Refugee relief.  Their story and how you can get involved is HERE.

Mercy Corps has posted some interesting graphics as well as information about how they are working with Syrian Refugees HERE.

The church is alive and moving to help the people of Syria displaced by violence within their own country.  Go ahead and visit these sites.  Pray for all who have fled their home seeking safety in unfamiliar lands that they may find courage, strength, peace and welcome. And that those who provide shelter may find courage, strength and not be overwhelmed in their outreach.

Thomsons are back in Japan

We had the Thomson family with us for much of July and August. What a delight it was to see their children participating in VBA and youth events this summer, and to see the family in worship with us so much.

End of summer means back to school, though, and for Peter, Wendi, and the kids, that means heading back to Japan.  Along these lines, Peter recently posted a difficult to read, but very important story, about kids heading back to school in Japan.  He says: “Why we are here. And as a parent with children in the Japanese school system, the amount of pressure on kids as they head into the second semester after summer break is brutal. I would even say shameful. Sure, high tests scores on standardized testing, but at what price?”  Read the story HERE.

What else do the Thomsons do in Japan?  I looked on their website, which is very worth visiting, and found this description of their work:

“We work alongside visionary Japanese pastors and congregations to help plant new churches throughout Japan. Our vision is to see already existing communities transformed into Christ-communities.

The disciples sent out by Jesus were to bring transformation. People already belonged to naturally occurring communities. A new disciple of Christ stayed in the community, seeking its transformation into a Christ-centered community through their presence.

With this same model, our ministry seeks to concretely support the transformation of new believers’ families, workplaces, human relationships, schools, cities, any venue where ‘community already exists’ into ‘Christ communities’ functioning on the principles of the Kingdom of God.

Additionally, we are constructing new Kingdom-based business and education models to see Kingdom expansion through being salt and light in our communities.

We do this on both the micro and macro levels. On the micro level, we are working to plant new, reproducing churches in regions of Japan. For example, from 1999-2003, we planted a church in Yamagata, a city six hours north of Tokyo. We are now planting a church in western Japan.

On the macro level, we are developing leaders and helping to foster a church planting movement. Our passion is not just for one church to be planted, but for a movement to spread that results in exponential church growth.”

There is real beauty in the Thomson’s work.  Japan is not an easy mission field, and any work done there must be done carefully, and with great patience. Peter and Wendi represent incarnational ministry so very well.  I’m reminded of Eugene Petersen’s A Long Obedience in a Single Direction when I think of Peter and Wendi’s work.  They are faithful, as we are faithful to pray for and support them.