Congregations for the Homeless Changes Lives

Emilio, like many people, lost everything in 2008, including his home. After spending six years as a restaurant manager on a cruise ship, Emilio returned to Seattle with little to his name. Fortunately, Emilio learned about the Congregations for the Homeless Emergency Winter Shelter where he stayed until he was able to enter the Year-Round Shelter program. Looking back, Emilio attributes much of his success to his relationship with his case manager: “He helped me face things from the past that are painful, but you have to get those skeletons out of the close to move forward.” Now, Emilio is a House Manager at one of CFH’s permanent houses, which requires him to take responsibility for the house and to create a sense of community for the men living there. He also works a full-time job at Nintendo.

Eric, another CFH client, is a current resident at the Year-Round Shelter. “I became homeless very suddenly,” he explained. “I never had this problem in my life. I always worked. I owned a condo.” After spending some time in a tent city, Eric knew he needed to find a new place to stay. The Year-Round Shelter was the perfect place for him. He shared, “This is really my spring board here. I started out at tent city over the summer, which is all fine and well, but there’s no resources there, no motivation. It’s just a place to stay, and nobody’s trying to get you work; no one is trying to get you to do anything.” He continued, “Here we have the resources, and the motivation, and the guys here are trying to improve their situation, so I’m surrounded by people who are trying to better themselves instead of people who are content with where they are. It is what you make it, and that’s why I’m really grateful to have this opportunity.”

CFH has been truly blessed by serving men like Emilio and Eric as they continue the mission of helping men move from homelessness to housing and well-being.

BelPres supported ministry Congregations for the Homeless continues to take an active role to end homelessness on the Eastside. This article was featured in the Bellevue It’s Your City publication. Find out ways to serve with Congregations for the Homeless at the Day Center in Downtown Bellevue or the Eastside Winter Shelter by contacting GetConnected.

Letter from the Editor

Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and a piñata. These represent Thanksgiving to me. While the first four items might appear at your Thanksgiving celebration, I have yet to meet another family that celebrates with a piñata. As I begin to think about all I am thankful for this year, I am drawn towards an experience that I never thought I would be thankful for.

Last year, I was recovering from a very difficult period in my life. I worked a job doing something I loved, but where my employer emotionally abused me. Couple that with the fact that I got married one week after I got up the nerve to quit that job, I was in a severe downward spiral for the first weeks, even months, of my marriage. My self-esteem was shattered, I was angry with myself for not being strong enough to stick out the situation, and I was angry with God for allowing me to be in that situation in the first place.

Around this same time, my connections to BelPres were growing thanks to my friendship with Jesse Rice. I started spending more time on the BelPres website listening to past sermons. One day, I came across the Child Care Center page and emailed Di Alexander asking to meet about working in the Center.

Di placed me in the Turning 3s classroom with two amazing women, Sarah and Katie. Working with the kids and sharing with them the simple truth that Jesus loves them helped me open my heart up again to vulnerability within my marriage and my relationship with Christ. I was too ashamed of my experience to share with them, but simply being with them and experiencing their love, support, and kindness, gave me the courage I needed to be unreserved again in my spiritual walk and my marriage. I realize how blessed I am to have come through that experience with my eyes still on Jesus.

It’s not always easy for me. I struggle with self-worth and the many ways I was shamed and made to feel less than worthy. But without BelPres, the opportunity given to me by Di, and the community fostered by the women in the Child Care Center, I doubt that I would be approaching thankfulness for the experience. It led me to a job I love and, more importantly, to a deeply trusting relationship with God.

“I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.” – Helen Keller

Thanksgiving Day 2015


Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, 

whether in word or deed, do it all in the

name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to

God the Father through Him.

The Thanksgiving holiday is embedded in the history

of the Pilgrims, the Christian separatists who established

a colony at Plymouth and celebrated the first Thanksgiving

in 1621. Yet nowadays, the holiday is mostly a chance to

gather with friends and family to eat, watch football or

the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and discuss what

you hope to buy on Black Friday.

As this Thanksgiving approaches, consider the example the

Lord has set for us throughout the Old and New Testament.

From the dedication feast for the Lord’s Temple built under

King Solomon’s rule (1 Kings 8), to the Feeding of the 5000

(Matthew 14:13-21), to the act of Communion, all of these

are ways we thank God. Christ makes a place for all of us

at his table (Luke 14:12-14). So let us give thanks to Him for

setting an example and giving us so many reasons to be thankful.

Renewal in Family Life Ministries

We are pleased to announce that last month we officially named Rev. Colin Robeson as our Associate Pastor/Director for Family Life Ministries (FLM) in the Belong + Grow department. After a year of serving as the Interim Director and following a discernment process that was confirmed by Elders, congregants, and Dr. Scott Dudley, we are excited to celebrate this new chapter for FLM. 

Over the course of the past year, Colin has led FLM through a season of renewal and growth. In addition to supporting the team’s commitment to children, youth, and families, Colin also developed a strategic plan that outlines FLM’s goals for the next three years, implemented the Child Protection and Abuse Prevention Policy, and led a High School mission trip to Bolivia. It has been a busy and fruitful time for Colin and FLM!

Prior to joining BelPres, Colin served as an Army Chaplain and provided spiritual care to soldiers and their families. In 2008, he joined our staff as a Pastoral Associate in the Prayer + Care department, supporting individuals during times of transition. Colin helped launch and establish Re:New and the School of Ministry in 2011. At the same time, he was named Associate Pastor for the School of Ministry, and since then he has worked tirelessly to care for at-risk youth, guide interns and new pastors as they discern their call, and develop strategies and partnerships to create opportunities for children, youth, and their families.

As Colin continues to engage and lead Family Life Ministries, he looks forward to developing broader experiences for families to engage in mission as early as preschool, implementing ways to better support parents, and greater development of student ministries. 

Jean McAllister

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.” Colossians 1:3-4.

Jean McAllister first heard God speak to her about being a missionary in Rwanda during her first Impact Team trip in 2004. She heard God say to her, “You could live here.” So Jean consulted with friends, family, and pastors here at BelPres, and she devoted herself to prayer and to Scripture. Through this process, Jean experienced God’s call to move to Rwanda where she has faithfully served Jesus for the last ten years.

Jean speaks fluent Kinyarwanda and is often invited to speak or preach in her community. She has developed a local network of ministries to prostitutes and children living on the streets, mentored young Rwandans, and has been an advocate for the poor and for women. Jean’s life is a testimony to the amazing ways Jesus can use us when we say, “Yes!” to His calling. 

Jean’s ministry in Rwanda is coming to a close and she will return to BelPres this month. We are so thankful for Jean, for the fruit of her ministry in Rwanda, and for the ways she has partnered with Jesus in bringing His Kingdom to earth. Well done, good and faithful servant! Welcome back to Bellevue.

Update: High School Ministry

Of the many things I love about my job, the thing I look forward to most is spending time with our students. We have amazing students; young women and men who are full of so much life and seeking to become all that God created them to be. I treasure the opportunities I have to spend time with them. It reminds me why I feel so blessed to engage in the work that I do. Our High School Ministry staff share this sentiment and it has been out of this deep sense of call and care for them that we have walked through the last year serving our students.  

Rev. Daniel Triller has been leading the High School Ministry team and serving as our Interim Director of High School Ministries. Throughout his time here, I have been continually impressed with how gifted he is for ministry, and by how much he cares for our students. Our ministry to our students has increased in both its quality and depth since Daniel joined our team.

Daniel’s leadership has also provided us the needed space to search for the person that will fill the Director position long-term. During this time we have worked within our regular networks to find a suitable candidate. Unfortunately, this has proved harder than we would have liked and we are still searching. This past month we partnered with a church-staffing firm to help us in this process. We are hopeful for what will come of this partnership and for the person we believe God has waiting to come work with our students.  

This time has allowed Daniel to discern that while he loves and feels called to serve at BelPres, he feels that his gifts and talents will be better used in other areas of ministry. To that end, Daniel has pursued another pastoral position here to further expand our men’s, new members, and hospitality ministries. We are excited for the energy, excitement, and passion that he will bring to those areas. He will, however, wait to fully step into this new role until we have filled the Director position. 

Additionally, we have the pleasure of welcoming Danielle Merseles to our staff. Danielle will serve as a Pastoral Resident in Family Life Ministries with a focus in High School Ministries. Danielle has served as a volunteer leader for the past seven years and on staff for the past four years. In addition to pursuing her Master of Divinity from Seattle Pacific Seminary, Danielle has begun the process of seeking ordination. She is well-gifted, skilled, and she loves our students deeply. We feel so blessed that she has chosen to join our team. 

Daniel and Danielle, along with our High School interns, Lauryn Schrock and David Dovgopolyy, are an amazing team and will continue to serve our students well during this season of transition. I know that they are passionate about our students and helping them develop their relationships with Jesus as we seek to revive the Eastside and beyond.

I look forward to seeing you around BelPres and ask that you keep this team and our students in your prayers.

Testimony: Jacque Hancock


Jacque Hancock was born to a high school mom and a dad appointed to West Point. Her birth crushed all their future plans. Those two young people started off marriage with much anger and were always discussing divorce. Over the years, Jacque became the scapegoat for many of their mistakes. Years later, when Jacque was in her 50s, they disowned her. Growing up was very difficult, although around age 12 she gave her heart to Jesus and was baptized.

Fast-forward a number of years to when Jacque met and married John Hancock. Two years into their marriage they visited, then joined Bellevue Presbyterian Church, drawn by the music and the powerful preaching. One Sunday, the sermon was on believing and confessing your faith in Jesus. John stood that day and made public his faith, beginning a life of service for both John and Jacque.

They taught Sunday school and were deacons and elders. They were on the Family Camp Committee and were counselors for the Billy Graham Crusade. John was a teacher for the Bethel series and Jacque was Vice President in charge of circle studies and speakers for the Women’s Association.

During the resettlement years of refugees after the Vietnam War, they personally took on a Chinese/Vietnamese family of seven and embraced them as their own family, along with their own son and daughter. Even though the family ended up moving to Los Angeles, they kept close contact, spending Christmases, birthdays, and vacations together. Today, four of the five children are married with children of their own and they still consider Jacque and John as family. In 2009, they all celebrated their 30th anniversary of coming to the United States on Lopez Island.

Jacque and John’s own daughter, Jennifer, graduated from Fuller Seminary and served at BelPres as the Director of Community Outreach until she left to become the Executive Director of Acres of Diamonds, a transitional housing program for mothers and children.

Jacque has started a number of Bible studies, one being a study with Betty Dilworth at Bellevue Terrace Nursing Home, and another with a group of women that has met for 35 years.

When her children were nearing college-age, Jacque was hired at Seattle Pacific University as secretary to the Dean of Natural and Mathematical Sciences and worked there for ten years.

Jacque and John’s most recent involvement at BelPres was starting the Alpha Program. They led Alpha for eight years and 15 years later they are still meeting with John’s small group.

Twelve years ago, Jacque was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She is now confined to a lift chair and John has been her incredible caregiver and encourager. Jacque calls him, “A gift from heaven.” Fortunately, Jesus is not finished with Jacque yet. She has a phone prayer partner, gives luncheons to people she ministers to (with her granddaughter’s help), calls people to encourage and pray with them, and even co-authored a book called Every Child a GRAND Child, an idea book for things to do with grandchildren.

Twelve years ago, Jacque was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She is now confined to a lift chair and John has been her incredible caregiver and encourager. Jacque calls him, “A gift from heaven.”

When asked what encourages her, Jacque answers how grateful she is for MS slowing her down in order to spend more time with her now college-age grandchildren – planning teas, meeting boyfriends, and sharing ways God is blessing their lives, among other things. She has a few books that have touched her heart lately, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Notes from the Valley by Andy McQuitty, and Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and Beth Clark.

Jacque said she never would have guessed the adventures Jesus had in mind when He invited John and her to join the congregation at BelPres. She knows that, like all of us, she is standing on the brink of heaven, but more adventures are ahead.

Christmas Giving Opportunities 2015

“But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7

Why is Christmas all about giving? Because we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—the gift of salvation given for all—the great gift of our Creator God. God saw our need, saw our desires, and planned the perfect gift for us; a gift we didn’t even realize we needed. Our gratitude for the gift of Jesus creates in us a natural response of giving. Here in our community, and around the world, there are people in need. People for whom your giving opens the door to a new life: a life of promise, hope, and a future. Just as when we serve others we are the hands and feet of Jesus, so when we give in His name, we are His hands and feet to the community and the world.

Several special opportunities for giving beyond your regular tithe to the general fund are described below.  Bring a smile to the face of someone who needs the hope that only Jesus can give. To get involved with volunteering with any of these ministries, contact GetConnected.


I’ll never forget the time my siblings and I went in together and bought my dad a goat for Christmas. No, we are not farmers. It was through an Alternative Gift Market at my sister’s church. I think we did it just so we could write, “A baby goat for our favorite old goat,” on the card. He loved it, and now our family has a tradition of giving donations in one another’s name at Christmas. We each have more than we need, and it’s always fun to see who pairs what gift with whom. Each gift in the Alternative Gift Market catalogue is inspired by the need of one of BelPres’ ministry partners here at home or around the world. You can purchase a goat in this year’s AGM to provide milk, manure, and offspring to sell and sustain a family in Africa. There’s a bundle called “The Word” that gets Bibles into the hands of young people in many of our partner areas. No matter who is on your list, from the old goats to the baby in diapers, there’s a gift for everyone. The Alternative Gift Market will be in the Lobby November 29 through December 20, and on the BelPres website through the end of the year.


When you serve meals—and hospitality—to the men of the Congregations for the Homeless shelter, you get to hear the stories of men like Tom. Tom was a stay at home dad with two young sons in 2004, but by 2012 he was addicted, divorced, and living on the streets of Bellevue. How he got sober, found a home, and full employment through the help of CFH is a great story. Each December Bellevue Presbyterian hosts the men of CFH. They stay every evening in the Upper Campus and enjoy a home-cooked meal, and make lunches for the next day, shower, wash clothes, enjoy time to visit and work with their case managers and employment coaches, and spend a warm restful night. While they are here you can make and serve a dinner, provide breakfast or lunch fixings, donate needed supplies, organize food and the kitchen, share downtime, or pray with and for our guests. You can give the gift of quality time and step into the lives of men on the path from homelessness to independence. Sign up in the Lobby or contact GetConnected


When it is Christmas, many people experiencing homelessness don’t have the experience of opening a present or receiving a gift of needed clothing or daily use items. Men in Bellevue staying at the CFH shelter or Emergency Winter Shelter have the opportunity to experience receiving a gift, two in fact, from their gift boxes. A tangible one in a box and a spiritual one from experiencing the love of Jesus through a stranger. Young women who are coming out of homelessness at New Horizons and R.E.S.T. (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) will receive a gift box of similar items specifically chosen to reflect the love of Jesus. Shopping with your family and filling and wrapping a box to deliver to one of these shelters offers a way of giving that affirms the dignity of each person and their value as created in the image of God. You can pick up a list of specific items for the gift boxes on November 15 and 22 in the Lobby. Please return your gifts on December 7 or 14 in the Lobby.


I have three children, and I’ve been eight years in Angel Tree. They have provided gifts for my children every year. The gifts they provided brought tears to my eyes because my first term, I wasn’t a Christian. And I didn’t have nothing. I was a drug addict. I was in prison. But Angel Tree opened the door for me.”  –Terry, prisoner and parent.

Share the love and hope of Jesus with children and families by selecting a gift tag, or volunteering to deliver gifts. Jesus said, “I was in prison and you came to visit me,” (Matthew 25:36). Giving through Angel Tree touches lives of prisoners and their families. The Angel Tree will be in the Lobby November 15 and 22 for gift tag selection. Gifts can be dropped off on November 29 and December 6 in the Lobby.


The Middle (youth group, grades 6-8) is partnering with Operation Christmas Child to collect Christmas Shoeboxes for overseas delivery. When our family was serving as missionaries in Indonesia, I was able to watch firsthand as the boys of our ministry to kids living on the streets received Christmas Shoeboxes. For every single child, it was the first Christmas gift they had ever received. What a powerful message for these children that there was someone out there who cared for them as their Heavenly Father cares for them. Pack a box and take part in this fun Christmas family tradition. Collection week is November 16-23. For more information, contact Mandy DuPar,


The Christmas Joy Offering has been a Presbyterian tradition for almost 80 years. This year’s offering will be given to Eastside Academy to support their ministry with at-risk youth. Eastside Academy creates a Christian learning environment that helps the whole student, academically, socially, spiritually and physically. EA makes a difference in the lives of their students. Your gift to Christmas Joy will support the programs and care provided for these students. Look for the special envelopes at the Christmas Eve services.

Still Thankful

Exciting jobs at BelPres? Look no further than the BelPres Finance Department! It might sound odd, but it is stimulating, just maybe not in the way you think. Much of the time the work is very concentrated and careful, there are many details to attend to, along with discussing ministry and programs with church staff to confirm details. But we also have opportunities to talk to those who give and tithe to BelPres.

We are part of a busy community following God. We are a church. We are the place where God has first called us to be faithful givers. Revival of the Eastside is a touchstone of Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Our mission to join God in His rescue mission to our world is an everyday goal. That makes for a lot of activity on the part of a lot of people. Money comes in from faithful congregants and friends. Money goes out for expenses. And everything is carefully prayed and accounted for.

It is very important to be good stewards of God’s money. When the church is working correctly, transformation happens. Brokenness is made whole, hungry people are fed, people encounter and grow to know Jesus. To keep all of these projects happening, the finance department continually checks spending to contributions, monthly budgets to actuals, and all those meticulous pieces that keep our church running. The department keeps the entire staff and Session informed about how much to spend towards realizing their vision. They help the directors and program leaders carefully use the funds available and practice good budgetary principles. The finance team keeps all the moving pieces together and creates a very disciplined and ordered world out of a large and complicated budget.

“When the church is working correctly, transformation happens. Brokenness is made whole, hungry people are fed, people encounter and grow to know Jesus.”

Then, every year, into this quiet, well-ordered routine comes a very big deadline: the end of the fiscal year. The Finance Department gets a lot of attention in this season. Reports are requested and prepared. Frequently. Then, even more frequently. Heads of ministries want to know if they can continue to fund their ministries as planned. Priorities are redefined when necessary.

As the difference gets smaller, the suspense eases a little. But still, there are times when we are not sure the budget will be met. We remind ourselves it’s up to God. God will provide what we need.

In August, our Senior Pastor Dr. Scott

Dudley spoke to our congregation about the difference between the budget and the actual contributions as the fiscal year end approached. The members of our congregation responded generously and promptly. By August 31, the difference was very, very small. All of the things that the workers in God’s vineyard had planned for this year were able to be accomplished, and even the things that are part of good management and helpful to general maintenance and upkeep could be done. We were able to take that deep breath and thank God for His faithfulness through the gifts that came into the church during August.

Look at all we have accomplished this year with your generous support. We have refreshed the Sanctuary building, invited hundreds of kids and youth on adventures with Jesus through camp experiences, and walked through life with families and individuals. Impact Teams traveled to Guatemala, Bolivia, Costa Rica, and beyond. Mission partners have been faithfully supported in the work they are doing as part of God’s rescue operation in our community and around the world.

What a sense of relief. What a heart full of thanks we continue to have, even two months later.

So here we are. Two months into the new fiscal year. God has refined our vision and guides our paths. His servants are answering the invitation to follow where God is leading and stepping into the limitless possibilities of His call. The normal rhythms of worship and fellowship are on sound footing and members are caring and serving within the walls of our church, in our neighborhoods, all over the Eastside, and beyond. Just like God asks of us.

And do we worry? Not very often. Our finance team and church staff know that God is faithful and He gives us all the hope and courage to trust. Thank you to the BelPres faithful givers!

The Study

For many people that I know, including myself, reading the Bible has always been a daunting task. The language is so different from ours today, the references to a history that is unknown to us, and the idea of prophecy can make your head spin. Like others, I’ve had good intentions to read the Bible and study it to the core, but I end up falling short.

Fortunately, I have been involved in churches that share my desire to want to know more of Scripture. Scripture is life, the living word, that points us to God and His blessings and teachings. We can turn to inspiring quotes from great authors and world leaders to try to spark our spirit, but the Bible does all of that and more. There is a supernatural quality that is hard to explain, but deeply enriching.

Over the years I have come to learn that the Bible is not just a bunch of stories that have no meaning in my life, but that it is filled with rich wisdom, and the Spirit of God mysteriously comes alive when I clear my mind and heart to sit and absorb it. Most of the time my problem has been just that: clearing my mind and heart. Making the time while raising a family, working, and volunteering is not always an easy task. When your child has kept you up half the night due to an illness, and you are sleep deprived and still need to work and care for the rest of your family, you can run out of steam. Picking up your Bible while trying to keep your eyes open doesn’t seem to work so well.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

I have found that being involved in a study where others share my desires works best for me. Currently at Bellevue Presbyterian Church, I am part of a men’s Bible study that meets every week. I get to be with a group of men who are looking to God’s Word to fill their spirits. I actually came to this study in its second incarnation. The group met before as one study, but then grew large enough that it decided to split into two different study groups.

Although studying the Bible is the focus of the group, there is so much more to gain from being in a small Bible study with like-minded people. As individuals we are all different: age, race, religious background, and life experiences. From all of our collective experiences we lift one another up, through hard times and good times.

I know every group is different, but this group is particularly special in the way we look out for one another. We share more than just, as Dr. Scott Dudley would say, “News, sports, and weather.” Together, along with our study, we walked alongside one another through addictions, burn out, confusion, and the next steps in life and marriages. We pray for one another, check in on one another. I think some even golf with one another. I have yet to learn the game of golf, but if it’s anything like football, sign me up. In truth, what I value most about this Bible study group is that we hold our relationships at the forefront. We come together to pour the Word of God into our souls and to pour into one another.

I have learned quite a bit from these men. From their wisdom, their struggles, and their insight. I am so thankful that BelPres opens its doors to small groups like ours and makes space available for people to come be fed by the Word and make lasting relationships as God intended.

For information on joining a Bible study at BelPres, please visit and search Bible study.

Mustard Seeds into Christmas Trees

Jesus’ parable of a mustard seed, growing expansively, illustrates the growth of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:31-32). In 2006, Jubilee REACH, a mustard seed planted by BelPres, opened to show Christ’s love to 20 high-needs children selected by the neighboring school. That mustard seed has grown!

In a city and school district where 86 languages representing 117 countries are spoken, Jubilee REACH grew into a hub for community and Christ centered hospitality. Strangers–estranged from countries, cultures, friends, families, and even from God–came to be welcomed and loved. Volunteers developed multiple services and activities, showing the love of Christ through English classes, dental, medical, and vision clinics, community meals, after-school activities, community care, and more.

Then, encouraged by the Bellevue School District and city officials, Jubilee REACH stepped in to the gap to provide after-school activities to the district’s most diverse and challenging middle school. On the second day, the two biggest bullies disrupted the crafts table and spit on the floor in front of an elderly volunteer. Coach Carlos, himself a converted gang member, escorted Jorge and Aldo to the gym. Fifteen of their gang followed. Rather than punish what they did, Carlos simply asked, “Why?” Then, with a soccer ball, Coach Carlos loved the bullies and watched as the gang transformed into a team. Anissa, the school’s principal, reported that the reading test scores of all those bullies improved two to four grade levels.

Now, Site Coaches, serving daily inside 14 schools, are like shepherds – students know their Site Coach’s name and voice (John 10). Student bullies (Sauls) have become bold leaders (Pauls). Jubilee REACH is a fully integrated partner with Bellevue School District and has a contractual agreement to care for the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of students in every school.

This mustard seed story prompted a Christian community leader, familiar with Festival of Trees Christmas celebrations in other major cities, to say, “Why not Bellevue? Why not Jubilee REACH?” Last year, 800 people experienced the inaugural Festival of Trees. Many exclaimed, “From the moment I walked in, it felt like Christmas had returned to Bellevue!” BelPres planted a seed and continues to nurture its growth as the Jubilee REACH Festival of Trees brings Christmas back to Bellevue again this year.     

And as for those former bullies? Jorge attends UW, leads a discipleship group, and serves as a middle school coach. Aldo attends Seattle University and coaches/mentors students after school. And at that first middle school, graffiti has been replaced with achievement award banners and Anissa was named Principal of the Year for the State of Washington.

Be part of the mustard seed story at the Festival of Trees, Friday, November 13, at the downtown Bellevue Hyatt.

A Thankful Heart

Lord, please help me to have a thankful heart

When I don’t feel like it, when I don’t feel grateful for anything

When I feel entitled to everything

At those times in particular, remind me

Of all the blessings that I enjoy every day 

Such as running water, hot water, a warm bed

More food than I need, a home to live in

A flushing toilet, electricity at the flip of a switch

Paid vacation, health insurance, free time, time to serve and help others

Fun friends, loving family, living in a beautiful part of Your world

A personal relationship with You, Jesus, the Son of the Creator of the Cosmos!

Being part of a community of faith, being known and loved anyway

The promise of life after death; roses blooming in my garden in the autumn

The joy of growing veggies; meaningful work; laughter and tears

A reason to get up every morning; Your endless gifts of faith, hope, and love

Help me to remember and be thankful that I’m not living in a war-zone

Fearing for my life each day, or fleeing for safety by night

Lord, please give me a thankful heart, a generous, sharing heart

A heart overflowing with joy and gratefulness

For the countless gifts You shower upon us

Not because of anything we have done to deserve them

But because of Your great love for all of Your children                 

© Rosalind Renshaw

1 Chronicles 16:34

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 9:1

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 28:7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped,

and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.

Colossians 3:15

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed

you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Sanctuary Refresh 2015

It is amazing to think that for the past 20 years we have been having thousands and thousands of people a week (over 2000 people on Sunday alone!) walk all over the carpet in the Lobby and Sanctuary. Thanks to you, the faithful BelPres congregation, we replaced a majority of the carpet in the Sanctuary building this past August.

Sammi Stimson, our high-energy Facilities Director, worked with G&W Commercial Flooring to implement the plan created by the “Sanctuary Building Refresh Task Force.” The Task Force was made up of BelPres members and led by Rick Chesmore and Dave Buck, of Chesmore | Buck Architects, both members of our congregation.

The original quote wouldn’t have allowed us to include much of the Music Wing, Welcome Room, and vestry areas in our carpet replacement, but some special help from G&W Flooring allowed us to acquire additional carpet at a fraction of the full price. It wasn’t quite a fish and loaves event (see Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, or John 6), but we were pleased to have the opportunity to replace a majority of the carpet in our Sanctuary Building all at the same time. The carpet that wasn’t replaced (mainly in the office wing) was thoroughly cleaned. So, while not every area has new carpet, we all are experiencing the joys of crisp and clean carpet and floors.

At the same time we were replacing the carpet, Sammi was guiding a paint crew throughout the Sanctuary building. The crew did a great job staying out of the carpet team’s way as they painted hand rails, accent stripes, and damaged walls.  All the paint and carpets were funded via the general giving of our congregation.  Thank you, General Fund givers! Paint and carpet was only the beginning of the project list this summer. The intensity of work really increased in August, when four major projects were all going on simultaneously in the Sanctuary building.

1.The heating system in the Sanctuary was modified. For the past 20 years, anyone sitting in the chairs in the Sanctuary worship service has experienced the wind chill caused by the wind-tunnel effect of the vents under the balcony. The Legacy Foundation graciously funded the major modifications needed to stop the wind tunnel effect. No longer will musicians need to use clothespins to hold their music on the stand. No longer will candles blow out mid-service when the heating system kicks on. No longer will people need to bring blankets to sit in rows 4-9 of the Sanctuary. Thank you, Legacy Foundation of BelPres!

2.The skylight and beautiful lantern windows have made our Sanctuary bright and cheery. Sometimes too bright. The choir and pastors have fought the blinding effects of the equinox sun for the past 20 years. The Facilities Maintenance Crew, headed by Carlos Tapia, was able to apply a special 3M film to the southern side of the skylights to control the glare from those windows. The team was also able to work with a friend of BelPres to design and install special shades for the south facing sides of the lantern windows. Both solutions allow plenty of light into the room while minimizing the blinding hot spots we have known for the last 20 years.

3.The Sanctuary lighting system was at the end of its 20-year lifecycle and needed to be expanded to handle the rigors of a weekly live stream broadcast. Unfortunately, the company that made the original control panel has gone out of business. Our volunteer consultant and BelPres member, Ron Hyder (who spent many hours helping us install the new system), told us that if the lighting panel failed, we would lose our primary Sanctuary lights until a new replacement was built – a lead-time of three to four months. We joked about having a season of candle light services every week, but were saved from that outcome when, once again, our Legacy Foundation graciously agreed to fund the much-needed enhanced lighting control system. The new system is designed to handle the complexity of live steaming broadcasts, which was not a part of the original specifications 20 years ago. Thank you, again, Legacy Foundation of BelPres!

4.The audio control system for the Sanctuary was old. Many parts were original equipment and past their expected lifespan. Sergio Chavez and his audio team installed a set of upgraded audio boards that will allow full digital control of the audio system and open up some new flexibility that has limited our broadcast quality for years.

Thank you, BelPres, for your generosity. Your contributions to the Legacy Foundation and the General Fund over the past two years have allowed us to save up enough to make these significant – and needed – upgrades to our Sanctuary Building.

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. 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,

Behind the Scenes with the Christmas Angels

’Twas the month before Christmas, and all through BelPres,
The Christmas angels make plans, and check them through twice.
Karen Wilson and the flower committee angels,
Envision the placement of Christmas cheer.
All those plants groomed and watered
For the month of December, come every year.

The guests without homes will soon be here,
Many angels are needed, to feed and care,
Angels to provide breakfast, lunch, even dinner.
Steve Roberts and his crew have slots to fill.
Many Christmas angel families can be part of the thrill.

In the fireside room, hear the clicking of needles.
Knitting yarn into clothes to show the love of Jesus.
A box full of love and warmth, knit by the embers,
Christmas gifts for our homebound members.
Another box, for those without homes, sits near
Stuffed full with winter gear
To receive throughout the year.

A tree full of paper angels offers gifts for inmates’ children.
Gifts from a parent not present for the celebration.
Sorting, stocking, and delivering Christmas cheer,
Sharing the love of Jesus, Kris Allan and her peers
Reach beyond the bars to each family.

Hundreds of boxes wrapped with bright ribbons,
Warm clothes and basic needs are gathered with a mission
So men and women without homes receive a Christmas present.
These Christmas angels, led by Marie and Chuck Olmstead,
Gather lists of needed sizes, distribute empty boxes,
And collect them, filled and wrapped,
To be given to our Christmas guests,
And to men’s and women’s Eastside shelters.

Christmas Eve angel volunteers direct our cars,
And our movement throughout the events of Christmastime cheer.
Hand us candles and programs and sing beautiful music for us to hear.

We gather each week throughout the year
Hundreds of angels surround us here, quietly serving in the love of our Lord.
Do you see them?
There is little flapping of wings nor feathers disappeared.
Yet, you may feel surrounded by the warmth of love from all they’ve volunteered.

Hark the Christmas angels!

Birth Announcements November 2015

Peter Ryan McHugh
Born 6-1-15 to
Rebekah and Stephen McHugh

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

Urbana! Annie’s Story

by Annie Aeschbacher, BelPres member and grad student at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

My experience at Urbana 2009 helped to shape my college experience (especially relating to my time studying in Central America), as well as the decision to become a YAV and even my decision to come to Fuller. I honestly don’t know how my life might be different if it hadn’t been for Urbana, but I firmly believe that God used the conference to work in powerful ways in my life. Here are some more details:

In December 2009, I had the opportunity to attend the Urbana missions conference as a sophomore in college. I had heard from a number of people that it was “life-changing” and I, (hopefully yet naively), signed up, entirely unaware of how profoundly just one of those five days would affect the course of my life.
At Urbana I was able to worship with 16,000 brothers and sisters from around the world and hear about amazing ways that God was working.

Less than one week later, I saw this work on the ground through the ministry of the InnerCHANGE team in Xela, Guatemala… a ministry that I never would have known about had it not been for Urbana. I went to Guatemala right after Urbana with a Spanish immersion trip from my school, not as a direct result of the conference. BUT because of Urbana, we connected with the InnerCHANGE team there which most likely would not have happened otherwise.

Almost six years later, I now consider InnerCHANGE to be a second Guatemalan “family.” Their work has ministered to me deeply, just as it does to the boys they share life with.
InnerCHANGE was one factor that brought me back to Guatemala, not one but two more times in the following years. During my most recent stay in Guatemala (2012-2013), encouragement from an InnerCHANGE team member was the catalyst for my process of thinking and praying about coming to study at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Now, as a 2nd year Fuller student, I’ll be returning to Urbana at the end of this year. Looking back on these experiences over the past 6 years, I’m much more aware of how life-changing this gathering can be and am excited and grateful for the opportunity to go again. I can’t wait to go back with open hands and an open heart, and see how the Holy Spirit will continue to work and move in my life, in the lives of my brothers and sisters, and in the world!

For more about Urbana ’18, click HERE.
For another powerful Urbana story, watch Sara’s Story.
To register, or for questions, contact Mary Kim.

Celebrating Becky Gonzalez

by Richard Leatherberry,  pastor for Mission

It is with gratitude and sadness that we say goodbye to Becky Gonzalez this month as our Global Outreach Director.  Over the last couple of months, Becky has sensed God’s strong call to something different and that she’d need to leave her position here before God would show her what was next.  Often, when God calls us to something, He asks us to “Go” before He shows us the what, where and how of His call.Becky meal packing

So, we celebrate Becky’s work here at BelPres.  Over the last 3 ½ years,  Becky has established strong relationships with our ministry partners, engaged more people from BelPres in Global Missions than ever before, and improved our Impact Team model .

Becky’s innovative and creative approach to missions developed a multi-church partnership to respond to the Oso mudslide, raising over $100,000 for churches there to help victims of the mudslide.  Additionally, Becky worked with Family Life Ministries and created opportunities for children, youth and families to engage in mission like Child Sponsorship Sunday.  Now over 150 children from around the world are being sponsored. 150 families from BelPres have a child somewhere else in the world for whom they pray and give financial support.  As a result, these kids have a new hope and a future because they are getting enough food to eat, going to school and experiencing Jesus.

Becky also helped create a food packing event for children and families here at BelPres to learn about poverty in Sierra Leone and participate in God’s greater work in the world. Last year thousands of meals were packed in our community center, then shipped to the Sierra Leone.

Becky has been a great blessing to me personally and to the global outreach of our church.  Becky leaves for a short vacation on Oct 22 and then will be back in the office Nov 1-5 before flying to Rwanda to help Jean McAllister move back home from Rwanda.  Please join me in thanking Becky for her service here.  Pray for her in this journey she is on and consider sending her a note or email expressing your thanks and appreciation for her ministry here.

Well done good and faithful servant!  Well done!
-Pastor Rich

Fireside Knitters = Cozy Missionaries Among Us!

The Fireside Knitters gather every Thursday from 9:00 to Noon.  While it’s true that they are sitting and knitting, they are also reaching out to the Eastside and the World through their efforts.  They are busy creating beautiful lap robes, mittens, wristlets, hats and scarves. This group of women of all ages gather the first and third Thursdays of each month, in the Fireside room adjacent to the main lobby at BelPres.

If you stop in for a quick visit, you will hear more than knitting needles clicking at a fast pace! You will hear conversation between lifelong friends and newcomers; stories of family celebrations and prayer requests; and information on how to learn a new pattern or stitch. Fireside Knitters creations can be found gracing heads, hands, necks and laps of many vulnerable populations both locally and around the world!

Whether it is lap robes for persons who are homebound, hats and mittens for elementary kids across the mountains in eastern Washington, baby blankets for families in Guatemala – this group is committed to serving those in need, both locally and globally. Anyone is welcome to join in, no matter what their level of knowledge or skill. If you want to learn to knit or crochet, and see your creations be used by God, the ladies are happy to show you how to do it! Yarn is supplied, as needed, as well as patterns, knitting needles or crochet hooks. Be the crafting hands of Jesus for a world in need. Stop by for a visit, or come on in and sit for a bit; the Fireside Knitters will teach you what you want to learn while sharing life with you by the fire.

Come knit with us! 

BelPres Serve Service Opportunity Contact Form

Contact information for ministry opportunities.
  • Please indicate the areas in which you have interest in serving.

Juanita’s Books: An NFE Adventure

By Shirley Kinsey

In Guatemalan villages, pine needles covering a floor signify happiness in receiving honored guests.  As our July Nicolas Fund for Education (NFE) team entered the house of Juanita, an 18-year-old girl with disabilities, we loved the aroma of pine which greeted us.  Sitting on wooden benches alojuanitang the walls, we noticed a rustic bed in one corner of the room, a beautiful painting of a mountain and lake on one wall – created by Juanita – and a small white board on the wall just inside the door.

Juanita and her mother and father gave us warm welcomes and expressed their gratitude for NFE supplying Juanita with her own computer and regular tutor.  To Al Lopus, who encouraged Juanita to set goals, this family presented an original Mayan weaving – created by Juanita’s mother – embroidered with these words:  “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you forever.”

As Juanita thanked us and showed us her work with Ricardo, her tutor, she shared a poster on which she had written three main goals for her future:  to teach her mother and father to read and write, to write her own story, and to help young people in her village.

Yet as we left her small wood-framed house, she showed us how she already helps the children in her village.  A creative entrepreneur, Juanita runs a tiny tienda (store) built of wood and situated at the opening of her parents’ Agros-earned property.  As well as selling snacks and school supplies, Juanita recently began loaning books to children in her library-less village!  Her one wooden shelf, about one-fourth of the way full, holds about 20 books, among them Spanish versions of Green Eggs and Ham and Charlotte’s Web.

I picked out a book called Frida about the life and artwork of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist who was married to the even more famous Diego Rivera.  When I showed it to Becci Merritt, she told me that NFE gave this book to Juanita because they thought she could identify with the pain of Kahlo’s life and her artistic expressions of that pain.  Juanita, who suffers from spina bifida, creates her own works of art.

Juanita says that children return the books she loans.  On previous days on this trip, I gave teacher, tutor, and student training workshops explaining the importance of reading and the research finding that children need to spend about two hours a day actually reading.  The problem:  they have few books, and in their classrooms, the books are locked in cabinets or small rooms for fear that the children will ruin them or take them away.  NFE wants to expand Juanita’s library, to fill up her shelf, and to add more shelves.

Please let us know if you have high-quality Spanish children’s books to donate, wish to contribute to the purchase of books, or want to join an NFE adventure to the villages in which we work.

For more information, please contact Becci Merritt.  Or see the website.