Brooks new at Freedom Christian Fellowship

by: Photo By Susan Matheny - Freedom Christian Fellowship Pastor Casey Brooks

   Casey Brooks took over the pastorship of the Freedom Christian Fellowship church in Madras, replacing Bernie Bennett, who left to return to school.
   For the past 10 years, Brooks has been working as an associate pastor for a couple of Calvary Chapels in Bend, most recently doing youth work for the Deschutes Christian Fellowship congregation.
   Prior to coming to Oregon, Brooks and his family were in San Diego for eight years, where he worked in retail management for a truck accessory company.
   Besides his job, he volunteered as a lay pastor at his church. "I worked as a volunteer at Horizon Christian Fellowship down there. It was a huge church with 8,000 to 10,000 people, so we had `home fellowships' which I oversaw," he said. The home fellowship meetings helped organize the congregation into smaller groups so people could get to know each other better.
   Brooks said he got a lot of hands-on training through that type of ministry, and said Calvary Chapels also offers many trainings, such as the 18-week pastoral counseling course he took.
   He and his wife, Michele, loved San Diego, but as their children got older, they began looking around for a smaller community for their kids to grow up in. The Brookses have a full house with five children, including, Tatiana, 15, Ryan, 13, Isaiah, 8, Katarina, 5, and Jesse, 2. Michele has been homeschooling the kids and really enjoys it, her husband said.
   About the same time they were looking for a place to raise their family, Brooks met a Bend pastor who was starting a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, and they ended up moving to Bend to help him with that effort. Later, he became involved with the Calvary Chapel and Horizon Christian Fellowship in Bend.
   After Pastor Bennett announced he would be leaving, Brooks was approached about the position, and after visiting the Madras church, decided to accept the pastorship.
   "We currently still live in Bend, but are looking for a house in Madras so we won't have to make that commute," he said.
   The Madras church has moved to one worship service at 10 a.m., on Sundays, instead of two services, and a Wednesday mid-week service is held at 7 p.m. Children and youth ministries are also held on the same times and days. He estimated about 60 to 70 adults attend services, 20 to 30 children, and 20 to 30 teenage youth.
   The congregation still fits comfortably in the historic church building, and Brooks said they plan to be there for some time.
   "In Calvary, the emphasis is on keeping facilities as modest as possible. If we grow, we will go to holding multiple services. The focus is on people and missions rather than facilities," Brooks said.
   Yancy Wells is the youth pastor and also works with the Youth For Christ organization in Madras on Monday nights.
   A new endeavor this year is the Freedom Christian School, housed in the church. Instructors Dave and Louise McCourtney now have 11 students enrolled in the kindergarten through sophomore age range. The school incorporates Christian studies along with the regular school curriculum.
   "It's a real neat addition. We have a bank of computers and the students get a lot of individual attention," Brooks said.
   Future plans include developing home fellowships within the Madras congregation, expanding the church book store, and offering some exciting youth activities.
   Brooks would like to take church youth on a mission trip to an orphanage in Mexico next Thanksgiving. "We'll go prepare a big Thanksgiving meal, take care of the children, and give the mission staff a break," he said.
   In another youth outreach effort, the only Surf Camp in Oregon is being organized for next August by Calvary chapels.
   Brooks explained, "We will bring in experienced men and women surfers to teach the kids how to surf and have fun. And we'll camp in group campsites on the coast."
   The Surf Camp is being planned at Otter Rock and will involve up to 60 youth, and enough surfing adults to ensure the lessons are safe and fun.
   Freedom Christian Fellowship is located at 164 S.E. D St. (corner of Eighth and D) in Madras, and Pastor Brooks can be reached at 475-7500.
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