This column reflects my personal views, experience and research. It is not affiliated with or representing any other entity, public or private. Oroville's Nazarene Church has a recovery support group called Serenity. It was started in the summer of 1992, and as I recall, Oroville was a notorious hotbed of methamphetamine use and production at that time. The group was born of a dire need. I had not written about their services for about four years, so an interview was scheduled with Dale Marsh, the church's recently appointed recovery pastor. It provided some interesting history and an enjoyable reconnection with a colleague in the recovery field. In 1992 there was no recovery pastor at the Nazarene, no Serenity group, only Dale, a recent convert to Christianity. Dale had been part of a Christian recovery group that fell apart. Members of that group encouraged him to start something up, so he approached Pastor Ed Redfern with the idea. Pastor Redfern referred Dale to congregant Ken Mariano who had a decade of recovery under his belt at the time. With the blessing of Pastor Redfern, and the help of Ken and his wife Abby, an inspiration became a reality. I met Dale about five years ago when I was exploring peer support options in Oroville. I was impressed by his warm, welcoming demeanor, so impressed that I continued to attend the group for a while, contemplating a more committed involvement. Since then he and I have had several lunches and coffee outings. We


discovered that we had many spiritual principles in common, and many contrasting political views. Dale was the owner/operator of a tile manufacturing factory on the outskirts of Oroville. Like so many manufacturing stories today, the tile business was unable to compete with low-cost imports. The winding down of his tile business seemed to coincide with Dale's heart telling him there was more important work to be done. Dale is currently a registered addiction specialist through the Breining Institute, one of five organizations approved by the state to register substance abuse counselors. He is in the last phase of preparation for counselor certification. He has also received a district ministers license from the Nazarene Church. Serenity has become part of the International Christian Recovery Coalition. Its mission, as reported on its website, is to "É include in their recovery efforts the 'old-school' principles and practices of First Century Christianity employed by the Christian pioneers of early Alcoholics Anonymous É" Dale says Serenity is Big Book, Bible and 12-step friendly. He attends other 12-step fellowships and respects their traditions. When asked what he means by that he said, "I don't go there to promote the Serenity group or tell people they need to be going to church." Although the reverse may not be true from an official perspective, as 12-step traditions call for complete non-affiliation, Dale indicates that Serenity considers itself to be linked to traditional 12-step. Dale adds that, "Serenity also has the intention of being a bridge to Church and Christ, but there is no obligation to make the leap." I asked Dale how long he has been in recovery. Like many recovering people he keeps an accurate accounting. "It's been 21 days, eight months and 24 years," he said. I asked what personal issue he focuses on in this stage of his recovery and he said, "I work on heart purity, bringing love into every aspect of my life. I want to live the Christian life all the way, love God and love people." That quote put the perfect wrap on a very pleasant visit with a very dear recovery colleague. Although Dale is one of many who keep the Serenity support group going, in my view, he has much to do with the longevity and success of the group. The Serenity group meets at the Nazarene Church, at 2238 Monte Vista Ave., on Wednesday evenings at 6:30. Comments, questions or suggestions for future topics can be sent to