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Internationally renowned minister Dick Iverson died this week at age 88.
"Many of us came to church last Sunday morning expecting another sermon as usual but received the news that our founding father had gone home to be with our heavenly Father. To our church family, this news brought a mixed bag of emotions. Some were grieving deeply. Some were reflecting on the time spent with and love imparted to them by Brother Dick. Some were sharing the sentiment that 'I never got the chance to meet him, but I am eternally grateful for all that he did and the way he has impacted my life through his obedience to the Lord.' And some were feeling a bit unsure about how to even feel, or what Brother Dick even really meant to them," City Bible Church posted in a statement on their website.
Iverson founded City Bible Church as Deliverance Temple in 1951. He and his wife, Edie, served as co-pastors with his parents, Ivy and Sylva Iverson. Iverson and Edie took over as senior pastors in 1961 and changed the name to Bible Temple in 1966.
Iverson's wife, Edie, died in 2008.
The Iversons had four daughters—Debi, Diane, Brenda and Tracey—who added four sons-in-law and 13 grandchildren to the family.
After her death, Iverson said he "felt the Lord tell him that he was to have another 10 years of fruitful ministry."
In 2010, he married his second wife, Roxy Kidder.
According to Iverson Ministries International:
1961-1965 were years of testing and stretching and birthing the church in a vision of what God could do with a body of believers who were united. In 1962 the famous "black board vision" was given to the church. If they could believe, God would give them the desires of their heart. Outlined on that black board was the future of the church. In 1965 God brought to "birth" a visitation of His presence and opened the understanding of restoration principles which brought immediate increase and growth. Every aspect of the church seemed to come alive in God and this marked the true beginning of consistent growth and increase. The name of the church was changed to Bible Temple in 1966.
Portland Bible College, started in 1967, was one of the first results of this move of God. Thousands of men and women from around the world have now been trained for ministry.
In the 1970's and 1980's one of the major ministries of the church was their tape ministry. Cassette tapes with the worship and message were sent around the world. To this day there are still people who remember those tapes and speak fondly of receiving them and the impact that the praise and worship had on their lives.
In 1991 the church relocated to a 33-acre campus on Rocky Butte in Portland, Oregon. In 1995, Dick Iverson turned the leadership of the church over to one of his spiritual sons, Frank Damazio.
Church planting marked both Iverson's and Bible Temple's ministries. Iverson Ministries International says the pastor has been blessed with spiritual "sons and daughters" around the world.
In 1987, Iverson founded Ministers Fellowship International to provide independent pastors and leaders a sense of covering, accountability, identity and connection. Iverson served as the Founder and Chairman of MFI until 2009 and remained active in the fellowship, traveling and ministering to churches and pastors conferences.
"Ministers Fellowship International is a dream come true. For many years I wondered how ministers could come together for a common purpose, without having to face issues of control and sacrificing their local church autonomy," Iverson said of the ministry.
"When I was a young pastor, I searched for fathers in the faith and other pastors who were going the same direction that I was going. I needed guidance and I needed fellowship, yet nothing seemed available to me. The local ministers gatherings were good but, because they were a blend of different philosophies and concepts, they did not fully meet the need," Iverson said. "As I matured in ministry, God gave me a real heart for pastors who are alone like I was. MFI has come out of that heart. I am thankful for the Apostolic Leadership Team that has come together to fully share in this vision. It takes a team of committed leaders to see any vision come to pass. God has fully blessed us with some of the greatest men and women of God to be found in the earth today. It is wonderful to walk together with other leaders for the sake of a greater harvest."
Damazio now chairs MFI.
Iverson's legacy inspired multitudes. By following prophetic words, Iverson experienced the kingdom of God firsthand.
"Brother Dick's passion to become an active and faithful servant of God was birthed out of a prophetic encounter in his younger years. He laid claim to that prophecy and it birthed in him an extraordinary love for the church—for God's family, 'the flock.' He was filled with an innovative and fiery belief that the church really could be all Jesus said, and he had great faith that God would deliver the blessings He promised!", according to the City Bible Church statement.
The statement continues:
He began to break the mold and expand God's kingdom in ways that were unusual at the time—Spirit-filled worship, a Bible college in connection to the church, and plans for big campuses even after the city told him, "We don't want any more churches here!" But even in the midst of all of these big plans, Brother Dick's heart remained for the church family. It was never about the biggest building or creating a state of the art institution. It was always about the people and how, if we were going to have more kids, we were going to need more rooms!
Brother Dick placed a high value on family. He was intentional about carving out family time with his loved ones. And he encouraged others to do the same. The value he placed on family transferred over to his church family as well. He was always concerned with making sure people felt that they belong and that this is their home too. Everyone who knew him says "when he sat down with you, he was with you like you were the only person in the room." The youth of the church were a priority for him, and he always took care to make sure they were being built up, taught and loved well.
He is regarded as a man of utmost integrity, someone to be fully trusted and respected. Gentle and loving, he did not shy away from correcting wrongs. Many of his sentences began with, "the Bible says..." God's word was paramount to him. The Bible is the cornerstone, as we can see in our church's name, "City Bible Church," formerly known as "Bible Temple." He kept the Bible front and center in our name, to remind us to always be people of the word—to learn it, practice it and live it out!
Brother Dick believed that worship was to be much more than a "platform presentation." It was to be a "people participation." He believed the Word as it is written, that the Lord inhabits the praises of his people. Because of this, he decided to break the mold and encourage Spirit-filled worship, a movement that caught some criticism at that time.
He believed in the prophetic and placed great importance on teaching us how to hear the voice of God and function in the gifts of the Spirit. This was, of course, rooted in the word, as Romans 10:17 tells us, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Through knowledge of the Bible, he led us to discern the voice of God and foster the prophetic ministry in the house.
First Corinthians 4:15 says, "For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." That is exactly what Pastor Dick Iverson did for our church. He became our father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. And we are so blessed, honored and grateful for that gift of a father that God gave us in Brother Dick.
Iverson's memorial service will be held at the Oregon Convention Center on April 27 at 7 p.m. You can find out more information here.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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