How does a church support recovery?
An important first start is becoming a member of the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church. From their website: “Recovery Ministries serves as a voice of conscience to Episcopalians throughout the world, building awareness of pastoral and spiritual ministry to those addicted. The original concept for Recovery Ministries’ mission dates from the landmark 1979 General Convention resolution on alcohol. Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church’s mission is to serve all those affected by addiction who have lost their health and freedom. Our ministry seeks to:
- Help the addicted and those who love them connect with spiritual resources and find lasting recovery.
- Witness to Christ’s unfailing mercy by welcoming unchurched members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs into an Episcopal faith community.
- Raise the awareness of clergy and other leaders about the disease of addiction and the redemption and grace found in recovery.
- Strengthen recovering Episcopalians in the work of their recovery and help proclaim the Gospel in the world and carry their recovery into the Church.”
My experience with Recovery Ministries is a group of people helping us with literature and national meetings to strengthen ourselves and our church in supporting those seeking recovery. These are some ideas for your church:
- Have a yearly recovery Sunday where you have recovery literature from the Recovery Ministries and a speaker on recovery.
- Have a monthly 12 step Eucharist where the 12 steps are a part of the Eucharist. This helps those in recovery know that the church supports their recovery and lets people not in recovery know that recovery from addiction is a spiritual process.
- Have people in your congregation in recovery known by the clergy so that when people come asking help, there is a referral pattern.
- Those in recovery should have contact with a therapist who can help the person seeking help know whether he or she needs to go to treatment or can just start going to 12 step meetings and have a sponsor.
- At all church functions where alcohol is served, an adult should be at that table at all times. There should be a place where nonalcoholic beverages are served that is as equally attractive.
- Have speakers come and talk about the opioid crisis and how someone can become addicted in just a few days as opposed to the addiction to alcohol which usually takes years.
- Welcome and Support 12 step groups to come and meet at your church.
- Consider having your church be a location once or twice a year where people can turn in unused drugs. This is one of the most common places where family members and friends go for drugs in your medicine cabinet.
- Let people know that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing.
Dr. Joanna Seibert is an emeritus professor of radiology and pediatrics at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences and has been an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas for sixteen years. She has served as a deacon at St. Margaret’s, Trinity Cathedral, St. Luke’s North Little Rock, and presently is assigned to St. Mark’s Little Rock. Her website is joannaseibert.com.