The Messenger: Jul/Aug


Please join me in welcoming Rev. Annie Duncan as our new Executive Pastor.

The Executive Pastor/Director search team and I unanimously and enthusiastically recommended that Rev. Annie Duncan be nominated to the position of Executive Pastor, and on May 29th at the congregational meeting she was voted into the position.

I have been a part of many searches and this is one of the clearest calls I have ever seen. God spoke decisively. Annie’s strong faith in Jesus, her gifts in leadership and innovation along with her experience managing staff in her various roles here at BelPres and in the for-profit sector made her the search team’s #1 choice.

Annie has already been a gift to BelPres and I’m convinced she will be stellar in this role.

Please join me in congratulating Annie in her new role. I am excited for what God has in store for us.

In Christ,

Dr. Scott Dudley (more…)

Letter from the Editor

At some point during the year, I sit down and come up with a list of topics that I think people will want to write and read about in The Messenger for the upcoming year. Last year was no exception, but when I presented the topic list, my manager was insistent on having recovery as the theme of one issue. I was hesitant – it’s a very personal topic and I wasn’t sure how, or even if, people would respond in an open and real way.

I’ll admit, when the word recovery comes up, I immediately think of rehab and a drug or alcohol addiction. I’m fortunate this is not something I have much experience with in my own life so far. But as I was writing the prompts for our writers, God led me in another direction: (more…)

This Is Just Yours

I like to call myself a Medical Adventurer. It’s just another way of saying that I’m a 26-year-old with a lot of medical bills because, well, my doctors almost never know what’s wrong with me and I end up getting lots of tests.

My first “adventure” came when I learned that the Can-Can dance should actually be called the Shouldn’t-Shouldn’t. You know how the dance goes, I’m sure. Jump up, lifting one leg in the air, and then switch legs. It sounds simple enough, but if you’re a girl in fourth grade and you spend more time giggling with your Girl Scout Troop than focusing on jumping properly, you might land on your ankle sideways. Sure, I had a pretty good sprain, but what was really odd was that my ankle was so immediately swollen that my X-rays were difficult to read for the technicians. The sprain healed, but the swelling only got worse. We tried ice and elevation and went to so many doctors I can’t even remember them all. Nine months into this process, my Mom and I had a routine. Take Sarah out of school, bring her Gameboy so she has something to distract her from all the “I don’t knows” from her doctors, and go home with one less ounce of hope. On the last day of our search, the doctor’s assistant at Children’s Hospital took one look at my leg and said, “Oh, it sounds like you have lymphedema. Mind if I bring in a few doctors to help us confirm it for you?” (more…)

Finding Hope After Divorce

When I was going through my divorce I thought my life was coming to an end. I was devastated, heartbroken, humiliated, confused, and felt totally hopeless. The grief and the anger consumed me. I prayed; waiting anxiously for answers.

Although family and friends were compassionate and gave comfort, I didn’t think anyone really understood what I was going through or what I felt. I was new in town and had been shopping for a church home. It was spring and BelPres was on my list to attend and it wound up being the answer to one of my prayers. “Divorce Recovery Workshop” the sign read. I inquired and signed up, not sure if I really would attend. I didn’t want anyone to see the big “D” I was carrying. Then I thought, “No one knows me here; if it turns out to be a bad experience, I don’t have to go back.” (more…)

God Never Gives Up

In 2005 my wife, Linda, and I were church shopping, and we were running out of places to try. Then we remembered that we had attended a Christmas Eve service at BelPres a few years earlier and we decided to try BelPres again. Attending a large church would allow me to remain anonymous. I wasn’t looking for community. I just wanted to be able to come to church, and then go home.

That attitude was one I had held for a long time, and it said a lot about where I was in my relationship with God and others…and it wasn’t good. In my late twenties, after my first marriage had ended abruptly, God came in and fundamentally changed my life. I had the experience of “I once was blind but now I see.” Later, I met and married Linda—we celebrate our 37th anniversary this year—and began a radically new life. When I read the Bible, the words were alive, and when I prayed I felt God was listening and leading. I was a trained counselor and I felt God lead me to start a Christian counseling ministry. I was also teaching adult Sunday school and was part of leadership in our church. God and the church were at the center of our lives. But over time, that began to unravel. My counseling ministry collapsed, and I spent the next 25 years in a job that reduced me to an anxiety-ridden shell of a person. And in the midst of all that, we were devastated by the grief and loss of a long struggle with infertility. (more…)

New Horizons

Gasworks Park on a cold wintry day. My teenage daughter and I wandered through the open building of pipes and machinery on a lunch break. We noticed a wood pallet behind one machine. On closer inspection, we realized it was a windbreak; personal items were evident, as was someone asleep in a dark blue bag. We quickly backed away, half afraid and half not wanting to disturb this person in their “home.” Hearts saddened, we assumed it was an adult male, perhaps a veteran or someone mentally ill. Perhaps both. Neither of us considered that the person in that bag, hiding out from the cold, might be a teenager, someone my daughter’s age, a young girl. Homeless.

New Horizons’ staff and volunteers know that many teens are homeless on our city streets. The statistics are staggering. On their website, New Horizons reports the following: (more…)

Trauma and Recovery

At first glance, there was nothing outstanding about the way she looked. I stood behind a woman and her young family in a buffet line—all of us waiting to fill our plates. Nothing caught my eye until the woman turned toward me, making her full face visible, showing half her face unmarked and half seared with burn scars. An additional quick scan took in scars on the exposed parts of her right forearm and hands; she walked with a limp. I also noticed the easy manner the woman and family related to each other. In the seconds viewing the woman’s scars and her family, I imagined a story of trauma and recovery.

It is nearing ten years since I saw the woman in the buffet line, and while I never learned her story, I often think of her scars and how I came to see them: Hidden at first, then visible when she turned to full view. For this woman, a piece of her story was available for others to see and I’ve often wondered what people would look like if faces showed the many scars of traumas and pain experienced in daily living. Would scars serve as a reminder that pain from trauma and loss is not quickly or easily healed? Would we feel less isolated and alone in our pain, if it were easily seen on the outside? (more…)

Trusting God Through Adversity

I spent most of my life fighting to stay alive. Fighting adversities that had not only come into my life but also seemed to become my life. I grew up with alcoholic and abusive parents. I had been raped and raised a child as a result of that rape. I have been living with a severe illness for over six years that I should not have lived with past one year. There have been many times that I just wanted to quit; to give up and just let go. Sometimes I did just let go and found myself spiraling out of control. Over the years I have become strong in my faith and I have learned to just let go and let God take over. As I grow in my faith I am learning to trust God through adversity as well as the good times.

It is so easy to forget to say thank you for the little things in life. For the past year, I have learned to appreciate just the intake of a fresh breath, the smell of a flower, the sound of the wind whistling through the trees. To see my image in a mirror and be surprised that a smile is reflecting back at me. I have found joy and peace in my everyday life. I enjoy living each and every moment of my life. (more…)

One Dark Night

“God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

One night while I was in graduate school, I awoke near midnight, having fallen into bed in a drunken state and passed out. On awaking, I sensed an extraordinary darkness surrounding me. Then I heard God speaking – he was very clear: “You are an alcoholic and you need help.”

I won’t detail my drinking history; it is sufficient to say that I had developed a habit of drinking a lot while managing to keep it a secret from most people. My close friend and housemate simply scoffed when I told her I was an alcoholic. She refused to believe it. And probably I wouldn’t have believed it either if God had not intervened. (more…)

Behind the Scenes with Robb McIvor

Close your eyes. Just take a moment and do it. You’ll like what you see and hear.  Remember when you were young and you’d be playing in the backyard or in your room studying and one of your parents would call you to dinner? If your name didn’t end with a vowel, they may have put one at the end, almost singing your name.

We’ve got a dynamite volunteer this month who understands what I’m talking about. His name is Robb McIvor. I’m guessing when he was called to dinner it may have been “Raaah-beeee.” Robb, by his own admission, said he was being called. In this case not for dinner by his parents, but to BelPres, by God. (more…)