Celebrate Recovery's National Director and Training Coach revealed in a joint statement on social media that the ministry's co-founder, John Baker, had passed away early Tuesday morning.
Pastor John Baker, one half of the founding duo of the global ministry Celebrate Recovery, passed away on the morning of February 23. The news was shared by the ministry's National Director, Mac Owen and National Training Coach, Mary Owen in a statement posted on the organization's official Facebook page.
"There are times in life when words are totally inadequate in sharing how you feel, this morning is one of those days," the statement read. "My dearest friend and brother has gone Home. John Baker, co-founder of Celebrate Recovery made his way Home early this morning."
There are times in life when words are totally inadequate in sharing how you feel, this morning is one of those days. My...
According to the Christian Post, the news of the Celebrate Recovery founder's death was a "surprise" to the team, which did not announce a cause of death, but promised to "share more" details in the coming days and asked for prayers for the family Pastor John left behind, including his wife, Cheryl Baker, co-founder of the evangelical support group, his son and National Director Johnny and Jeni Baker, Laura and Brian Gibney, and his grandchildren.
Celebrate Recovery was established by John Baker and his wife, Cheryl in 1991 at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. It is a Christ-centered recovery ministry that began when Baker had a God-given vision for the ministry, which he documented in a "now-famous, concise, 13-page, single-spaced" letter Baker gave to Warren.
Pastor John Baker himself was a "functioning alcoholic" who was looking beyond Alcoholics Anonymous to find a Christian-based healing program. Unable to find one, he established Celebrate Recovery himself with the help of his wife, Cheryl. According to CBN News, the ministry is dedicated to those who need to break away from addiction and uses a 12-step program to do so.
Warren's wife, Kay took to Facebook to share the sad news of the Celebrate Recovery founder's passing, remembering him as a "kind, creative, brilliant and faithful man."
Kay Warren shared, "Thirty years ago John Baker turned the ruins of his life over to Jesus Christ and God transformed him from a driven businessman with an addiction to alcohol, a failing marriage and alienated children to a Christ-follower with a passion to help others with their 'hurts, habits and hang ups' through the principles of recovery."
What started as a meeting with just 43 people in attendance has grown to be a global force for good. Celebrate Recovery now boasts of over 14 groups today, with more than 35,000 churches around the world. To date, over 27,000 individuals have gone through the 12-step program at Saddleback Church, a number of them now serving in Celebrate Recovery and the Church.
The late Pastor John Baker's Celebrate Recovery program was also adopted into New Mexico's state prison system. By 2004, it was also adopted by California as its state-approved substance abuse program for prisons.
Believers are urged to pray for Pastor John's surviving family members.