For those of you who have been attending the Fellowship at Bend for more than a couple weeks, you may associate the name Ben Delery with the guy who leads worship most Sundays. For those of you who have been around a bit longer, you may know him as the administrative and worship pastor who wears more hats in a day than most people do in a year. Since 2012, Ben has served full-time at TFAB, and has had to be flexible from the get-go.
“Loren approached me the summer of 2012 and asked me if I wanted to be the part-time worship leader,” explains Ben, in reference to Loren Anderson, teaching pastor here at TFAB. “I’d already been in a rotation—three of us were running the worship ministry here—but they wanted to simplify and make it one person.” Although Ben was interested, with a house and new baby, he needed something full-time.
Luckily, “Right about that time the administrative pastor decided to go back into his former career. So Loren asked me if I would take that job too,” says Ben. “So that began my accumulation of the many different hats I wear at TFAB.”
In fact, trading hats is not a new development for Ben. Professionally, he has spent time in a variety of fields, from aspirations of attending a musical conservatory out of high school to running his parents’ Salsa business (O’Hana) for three years to getting his private pilot’s license to working for the FAA. Spiritually, he also spent time in a variety of denominations before finding TFAB.
“When I was born, both of my parents were Catholic. I remember going to the Catholic Church in Bend one time,” says Ben. Shortly after moving to Bend from Honolulu, Hawaii when Ben was two (a move they made for Ben’s health), his parents joined the Assemblies of God Church, which infused his upbringing with a charismatic side. “There was one lonely stoplight in Bend then,” he recalls. “My dad worked at the Old Mill when it was a mill. My mom worked as an accountant at St. Charles.”
They stayed in the Assemblies of God Church through his early childhood, but decided to leave that church when Ben was just entering middle school (actually, his three-year-old sister answered the phone and made an impromptu announcement of their decision to the pastor!). From there they joined a Quaker church, where they stayed through Ben’s high school years. “That’s actually where I started playing music in the church,” says Ben. “The choir director found out that I’d taken a couple years of piano lessons—I’d since quit because I hated it—so I started learning how to play at the Quaker church and that prompted me to begin taking piano lessons again.”
His transitions through different churches created a shifting sand for developing Biblical knowledge. “I would say I’ve ‘known’ Jesus since I was a young kid, probably like 1st or 2nd grade,” says Ben. “But my relationship with him was very much based in fear and what I’d describe as ‘pop culture Christianity.’” Ben’s perceptions first started shifting in the early 2000s, starting with a pastor on the radio, who was a future member of Acts 29. “I heard a man teaching, I believe from Revelation, and he was preaching in a way I’d never heard before,” he says.
A while later, a friend encouraged Ben to play on the college worship team for TFAB, where Ben heard Loren and Brett teaching in a similar style. “It was just an awakening to what scripture actually said,” he recalls. Ben stuck with the Friday night college group for a while. During that time, he and his friend made a move to Florida to study to be airline pilots. Unfortunately, the Great Recession hit and Ben lost his financing. He moved back to Bend in 2008, and resumed attending TFAB, now on Sundays too.
“It wasn’t until I was 27 and I went through Redemption Group that I experienced the freedom—from guilt and shame—that comes from confessing sin,” says Ben. “I’d never felt freedom like that and I was 27. That was a pretty huge moment in my relationship with the Lord.”
After moving back to Bend, Ben met his future wife Heidi, and in the tough economic times took whatever paying gig he could get. After stints at T-Mobile and Sears Automotive, he landed at Northrop Grumman from 2010 to 2012, the first two years of his marriage. Ben knew he needed to move on from the stress and travel that came with that position, which was when the opportunity at TFAB opened up.
Just as God guided Ben to freedom from fear-based religion, He also utilized all of the career changes to cultivate skills Ben has found useful in ministry. “Each time, even though I felt like a failure at many of these things, as I look back, now I see God shepherding me with a stick,” says Ben wryly. “He trained me how to get things done in the church through running the salsa business. He made sure I had ample knowledge to lead music and musicians. He taught me how to be a student through training to be a pilot. He taught me how to write and have an appreciation for rules through the federal government.”
But like all of us, Ben has dealt with obstacles too. A stray comment from someone about his singing kept him clear of the microphone for years. “It was a long journey to finding any sort of confidence as a musician and I still have to fight for that pretty regularly,” says Ben. He and Heidi have both also struggled with health issues. “The year that Heidi and I got married, 2010, Heidi was diagnosed with a very serious case of melanoma,” he says. “Later that year I had a blood clot in my right leg. I’ve had multiple since then.”
Their brushes with these illnesses were sobering, and shaped the direction of their family. “We were going to just be together for five years, travel, have fun and then have kids, but then we thought, ‘Why are we waiting, really?’” They welcomed their daughter Gretchen into the world five years ago, and their son Owen two years ago.
When Ben decided to complete his college education in 2013, he and Heidi also faced the task of balancing life, work, and family. “I worked full-time here, had a family, and went to college full-time. I could not have done that without my wife. She basically took care of everything else while I worked and did school. That’s the biggest hurdle I’ve overcome in ministry and I could not have done it without her,” says Ben.
Through head spinning career changes and journeys in different denominations, God has been present. And from airline pilot to pastor, Ben has seen that consistency even when everything else seemed in flux.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.