HISTORY OF HOPE
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Richard S. Phelps
Founder of Hope Ministries
APRIL 1994  

As the Founder and former President of Hope Ministries, I have been asked to write a partial history of the ministry.
It is a pleasure to offer the following history and to recognize and give honor to the wonderful leadership that has been provided by President Joe Pellizze since 2007.  Every person who begins a ministry dreams of a capable person to carry on after his service and leadership is completed; to this end I am grateful to Joe and his wife, Sheila. My wife, Judy, and I moved to Florida from Rhode Island in 1988 .  I had a strong desire to begin a ministry of Christian pastoral counseling.  At the end of 1988, the opportunity to begin a ministry of spiritual encouragement was offered at the Tabernacle Church in Melbourne where I served as a pastoral counselor for four years.

While at the Tabernacle, I began to have a vision for a Christian Counseling Center.  It would be located in a commercial plaza and would offer Christian pastoral counseling in support of struggling Christians of all denominations.  With the encouragement and support of both the Tabernacle Church and New Covenant Church (now Church On The Rock), I witnessed God bringing this vision to fruition. In April 1994  Hope Recovery Ministries (initial name), a pastoral counseling center, opened in a commercial plaza located in Palm Bay, Florida.

The ministry started with myself as the only counselor and Lucy Mundy as the only volunteer. By November of 1994, Howard Mundy agreed to serve full time as a staff support.  He and his wife, Lucy, told me that they felt led by God to hold up my arms for this formation. They became the heart and soul of the ministry and would both offer service of
great value for many years.

Within a short period other valuable people joined as staff and volunteers.  The ministry had been founded on the principle there would be no charge for our counseling services, and no salaries would be paid to staff members or volunteers.  Stan Farmer of His Mansion Ministries in New Hampshire had encouraged me that God could and would provide for the financial needs of the ministry and staff if we would but trust Him for that provision.

Phyllis Muessig became a volunteer in addition to Lucy Mundy and both are still serving in 2009.  Louie Verini, the first addition to the pastoral counseling staff, would increase the staff to six members.  Additional volunteers would join the ministry offering a full day of service. 

A decision was made for the addition of a teaching ministry to supplement the pastoral counseling.The staff felt a deeper understanding of the Christian faith was essential to the counselees for successful living.  Warden Brown, Howard Mundy and Terry Morris helped us launch this teaching ministry. We used curriculums that taught the basic lesson of what it meant to be a "Christian" and how to apply that understanding to the struggles of life.  A spectacular improvement became apparent in the lives of those counseled.

Decisions were made on the qualifications and training for those added to our counseling staff.  The basic qualification was that each person be a Christian, in good standing with a local church, a person of personal integrity and one who would be teachable.  Howard Mundy gave me a formula that assisted screening of applicants for both the counseling and volunteer ministry.  Anyone who joined the counseling staff completed a training program.

The demand for counseling and the teaching classes was strong almost from the beginning and we had difficulty serving all who were coming for assistance.  The most remarkable work of the Lord with our growth was how our needs for staff and volunteers were provided almost exactly as the demand increased.  Another dramatic work of the Lord, in regards to the counseling staff, was that a natural specialization developed among our counselors that met the needs of those coming for assistance.  An early decision was made to network with other counseling ministries, professional counselors and residential programs.

Ted Remington, (one of our "Valuable Volunteers") has done an excellent job of assembling an extensive list of resources presently on our web site.  Lew Gervais is our staff expert concerning Drug, Alcohol,or Sexual Addictions.  He also works with individuals who require residential treatment for their addiction.

 A partial listing of the counselors and support staff and their specialties.

 1994 - 2008   RICHARD S. PHELPSspiritual encouragement, addictions and couples.    
 
1995 – to present   LUCY MUNDY, spiritual encouragement for women and couples.      
  
1994 -  2007   HOWARD MUNDYspiritual encouragement for men, couples and teens.  
 
1995- to present   LEW GERVAIS, (part time till 2007) addictions counseling, facilitator training, 
                                  support  groups and addictions classes.
 
1996 - 2008  ALICE THISTLE, spiritual encouragement for abused women. 
 
1996 - to present  LOUIE VERINI , spiritual encouragement for women and couples. 
 
1997 – to present JOE PELLIZZE, President of Hope Ministries; spiritual encouragement for 
                                  abused men and couples. 
 
2000      FRED ST. LAURENT, office administrator / public relations.
 
2000 – 2002   ANGIE REAM, bookkeeper.
 
2002 – 2005   CLIFF BUXTON, receptionist / bookkeeper.
 
2005 – to present  TOM AND BARBARA MURGATROYD, bookkeeper / prison ministry.
 
2007 - 2009    DIANA SIVADON, spiritual encouragement for abused women / development. 
 
2007 – to present    LINDA DIXONspiritual encouragement for abused women.     
 
2009 – to present   MARY FISCHER, spiritual encouragement for women.   
 
2010 ~ to present    MAX AHLGREN, spiritual encouragement for men, Theophostic Prayer Ministy
 
2011 ~ to present  JOHN MAAS, spiritual encouragement for men
  
Early in the ministry, a decision was made to launch an Internet web Site.  Hopefully, by launching the site, similar ministries would be found around the world by people aspiring to start such ministries.  For many years the quality of the web site was limited until 2007 when Diana Sivadon joined Hope as Director of Development and later when Linda Dixon became her assistant.  Linda is in charge of maintaining the web site and publishing the newsletter.  Individuals, local and foreign, have sought spiritual encouragement, which was extended via email, and Support Groups to those in the local area.  From the earliest days of the ministry the financial support was fragile.  The staff struggled as did Hope Ministries. Often it was uncertain how the bills would get paid.  At least five times the financial struggle was serious enough to contemplate the closing of Hope Ministries   However, this financial uncertainty often turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  This situation continues to keep us humble and dependent upon the provisions of the Lord.
 
Although, the ministry continued to be fragile financially, the Board of Directors voted to consider an expansion beyond the pastoral counseling and the teaching ministry. It was apparent that additional opportunities were a possibility and existing staff members were called to develop new ministries. Lew Gervais opened a school to train counselors for addictions. Dick Phelps and Joe Pellizze began to offer a chaplain ministry to employers and local police and fire departments. Tom and Barbara Mergatroyd launched a ministry to prisoners and their family members.
 
I began to experience serious health issues during 2007.  In spite of a severe shoulder injury and cardiac symptoms I attempted to continue leading the ministry. God supplied the strength in spite of major limitations.  However, the Lord was leading me to step down as President.   Accordingly, Joe Pellizze was asked  if he would assume the Presidency;  in January 2008 the transfer of leadership was begun.
 
By January of 2008, my physical condition made the transition of leadership very stressful.  I attempted to continue as Chairman of the Board and coordinator of the Development Department  but medical issues made any involvement difficult. Therefore, I retired as Chairman of the Board and as a staff member in January 2009.
 
From the early days there were remarkable situations where individuals and couples were assisted through great problems to go on to a victorious Christian life. All were encouraged that God was using us in a powerful way and bringing spiritual encouragement to many who would benefit and take a strong place in the church and community. The future of the ministry remains in the hands of the Lord.

 

 

 

Early Days at Hope Ministries
                           Lucy Mundy
In the spring of 1992, as Hope Ministries was beginning, I joined with Dick Phelps as the first volunteer.  Even before the facility opened on Palm Bay Road, we were working to build the foundations of the ministry.  My first major task, which has been an ongoing project, was to pull together information for what became our Resource Book and is now the information under "Resources" on our web page.  Many hours were spent contacting ministries in Florida and other states to find out what they did and how to access their help.  Dick and I also visited local agencies such as the Sharing Center and Salvation Army to introduce the ministry and offer it as a local resource. 

After we moved into 2020 Palm Bay Road, Dick and I did whatever needed to be done.  I was responsible for answering the phone, greeting whoever walked in the door, light cleaning, prayer, and sitting in with Dick whenever he counseled a woman.  From the very beginning we had a firm policy that no man would ever counsel a woman without another woman in the room, to provide protection and prayer.  This was a wonderful training ground for the counseling that I began to do after a time.

It was sometimes very quiet in those early days, but as word got out, we began to grow in size as well as services.  Before long we had other staff and volunteers join us.  God has blessed and diversified and faithfully used Hope Ministries over these fifteen years!