Founder of Celebrate Recovery, John Baker, dies at 72

John Baker, co-founder of Celebrate Recovery, an evangelical support group that assists people with “hurts, hang-ups and habits,” is dead. He died on Tuesday, February 23 at age 72. His death was announced by his ministry which he began in the 1990s at Saddleback Church. On the Facebook page of the group, the national director of Celebrate Recovery, Mac Owen, posted;

“John Baker, co-founder of Celebrate Recovery made his way Home early this morning. To say this took us by surprise would be an understatement. John touched more people with the healing power and grace of Jesus Christ than anyone else that I have ever known personally and one of those lives was mine.”

Baker and his wife, Cheryl, founded Celebrate Recovery in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California which is one of the biggest churches in the city. The theme of the ministry is “Christ-centered 12-step group”. So far, more than 27,000 persons have passed through the program.

In her tribute to Baker, Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, said that Baker was a dear friend and a giant of a man. Also, she affirmed that he assisted a lot of persons to find hope in life and give it another try. She added that Baker was a brilliant, kind, creative, and faithful man and words cannot express how much she loves him.

In her words;
The personal struggles of Baker brought about Celebrate Recovery. Right from his days in college, he was into alcohol and he became a chronic alcoholic when he got to his 30s. According to Baker’s 2009 profile at Tulsa World, Baker joined an Alcoholics Anonymous group meeting at Saddleback in his 40s. The group helped him to handle his addiction with alcohol.

In an interview with Christianity Today magazine in 2016, Baker said that he wanted to start a program that would involve teaching with the honesty and support structure of 12-step groups. He wrote down his plans in a letter to Rick Warren, who gave him the nod to begin the ministry.

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