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
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
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
Richard G. Burns holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Stanford University where he was Case Editor of the Stanford Law Review. He was a Phi Beta Kappa in his Junior Year at UC Berkeley. There he received an A.A. degree in economics with Honorable Mention. He was an Information and Education Specialist in the United States Army where he held the rank of Sgt. He attended the information-education school at Washington & Lee University. He practiced law in California from 1951 to 1986. He was president of the Corte Madera Chamber of Commerce, Corte Madera Center Merchants Council, Mill Valley Community Church, Redwoods Retirement Center, and Almonte District Improvemen Club. Also elected Director of the Almonte Sanitary District. He is a writer, historian, retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active recovered member of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous with continuous sobriety beginning April 21, 1986.
He writes under the pen name Dick B. He has devoted 24 years to researching the history and successes of the early A.A. Christian Fellowship in Akron; and published 46 titles, more than 1450 articles, and materials on Facebook, Twitter, MauiHistorian.Blogspot.com, Alcoholics Anonymous History.com, In the Rooms, Linked-in, Tumbler, MauiHistorian.Word Press.com, Aa Historian WordPress.com, AA History with Dick B. on cyber recovery social, Dick B. YouTube Channel, Articles Base, GoArticles.com, SearchWarp, Self Growth Experts, Social network forums on International Christian Recovery Coalition Forums, Recovery Internet Fellowship, Cyber Recovery, Daily Recovery, Christian Recovery Ministries, radio, TV, and over 70 audio blogs on the history subject. He regularly conducts radio interviews of Christian Recovery Leaders and Workers on www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com.
He is Executive Director of the International Christian Recovery Coalition and of Freedom Ranch Maui Incorporated. He is an Advisor to God's Way Ministry, a Christian Church and is also a consultant to Wyoming Pacific Oil Company. Listed in Marquis Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Law, Who's Who in Finance, and Gale's Contemporary Authors