Missing Peace in Edmond, OK

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Success Stories

MISSING PEACE ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma was initially conceived in February 2013 although the principles did not know they would give birth to a new ministry at the time.

It was then that five members of the church attended their first training program lead by Austin-based FAITH PARTNERS, INC.  Drew Brooks and Jan Tipton introduced our church members to the idea of a team dedicated to helping those in our congregation who struggled with addiction.  It was no consequence that those attending were lead to the training as each had a life-story to tell about how addiction impacted them.  In fact, all those in attendance that day, including churches from every corner of Oklahoma had addiction stories to tell.

Prayer and more consideration led this initial group to feel led by Christ to build upon the concept of a recovery team capable of being the “first-responders” to people in crisis within our church and community and subsequent training pointed us to determining our congregation’s needs in this regard.

FAITH PARTNERS, Inc. provided and tallied the results of a congregation-wide survey which was handed out and collected at one Sunday service.  The results showed a clear need for congregational education and assistance.

The survey also pointed to those who might have an interest in launching such a ministry and they were contacted and we began to meet monthly.  Right now, we have a core group of about 8 who have consistently dedicated their time and skill sets to growing our new ministry.  We sometimes are “feeling our way in the dark”, but have felt that our ministry, in its infancy, is making progressive steps.

To date we have formed a mission statement, adopted a name (MISSING PEACE), continued training with the help of FAITH PARTNERS, had monthly meetings with guest speakers sharing stories of recovery and educating us on the addicted brain, shown an educational video to our core group and to a church and community-wide group of over 70 people.  We are making ourselves known.

We are in the process of refining a resource directory to aid us in pointing anyone coming to us for help to someone who can help them.  The last training session conducted by FAITH PARTNERS, Inc. served to add even more enthusiasm to the core group of individuals in our ministry, but we have much more to do.

The various publications provided by Faith Partners have been instrumental to all we accomplished. The vision and inspiration provided by Drew is priceless.

Gary Underwood
Missing Peace Team Facilitator
First Presbyterian Church, Edmond, Oklahoma
December 2013

Sustaining Ministries of Compassion

March 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Success Stories

Faith Partners ministries have been integral to my congregational experience for several years. Of course, the pivotal tasks involving set up, initiation, constitution (in the United Methodist church) and kick off always create a sense of satisfaction and mission accomplished. Often when I talk to new participants in Faith Partners, who weren’t part of the church back in 2007, I am compelled to impart that same elative sense of marching down a new path with a mission and like-minded,  enthusiastic fellows. That task is the goal of and met through “sustaining ministries.”

After the initial and advanced training, group coordination, congregational buy-in, and delegation of responsibilities, we began to see not just group cohesion, but individual interests develop and nurtured. Our team helded twice monthly meetings where outside speakers from a variety of disciplines could instruct the group on various facets of addiction, the psychology of recovery, the role of faith, community services, legal strtcures, amd even non-traditional approaches. funeralSome team members began to deal with daunting challenges – family dynamics, legal consequences of substance abuse,  and referral to helpful community resources – and as a group all learned simple lessons in the complexity of the problem and diversity of creative responses. The team also realized that after focusing so much energy on internal issues and needs, maybe it was time to also look outward. In fact, much of our group’s sustaining ministries have been a direct result of our engagement with the local community.

Dinner with recovery residents - Our community has separate long-term, residential recovery programs – 20 women at one, 50-55 men at the other – for a unique population coming in off the street or out of incarceration. The newer women’s  program sought out support from the surrounding community. Our Faith Partners team made a commitment to dinner1provide dinners on a monthly, then twice monthly for the residents. We discovered that this regular kind of committment gave a unique opportunity to not just serve, but to also break bread, share, discover and laugh with a fascinating group of residents newly on the road the recovery.

Transitional needs -  From interaction through the dinners, the team discovered that many who were completing the residential recovery program – 12-14 months – had shown up with virtual nohing and were leaving with little more. The group began making special drives to help meet some of transitional needs – servicable furniture, small used appliances, groceries, and the like. Of course, the priorty placed job, housing, and transportation needs first, but having a decent bed to sleep on, a couple chairs and some groceries in cabinets places a pretty close second. The residents were especially appreciative of the gesture as a way of welcoming them back into the communty.

Community service - From another source came the impetus to provide community service opportunities to participants in the local DUI and Drug Court programs run through the county judicial system. For a few, connections were made via 12 Step meetings and the many requests to sign “court chits” for mandatory meeting attendance. It was soon discovered that these judicial programs carried with them not just substantial fees, drug testing, counseling, 12 step meetings, but a hefty community service requirement. In response, an effort was made to establish standards, construct the proper documents, obtain authorization from church board members, and recruit the labor for small church projects. The “talent pool” was extensive. A painter recruited, also had years of plumbing experience. Another recruited for food service, had computer programming experience as well, and wound up joining the congregation a few months later.

Sustaining ministries are the result of compassion, determination, and earnest effort to connect directly with the least, the last, and the lost. I’m always interested in hearing what other Faith Partners teams are doing once their teams are pulled together and starting to reach out.

Blessings,

Rick Drewien
Faith Partners/Recovery Ministry Coordinator
Sacred Tapestry United Methodist Church,
Marietta, GA

Bay Harbour Recovery Sunday

July 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Success Stories

October 14, 2012 was a milestone event for the church and community served by the Safe Harbour Recovery Ministry of Bay Harbour United Methodist Church in League City, Texas. The church’s fifth annual Recovery Sunday featured a speaker who had formerly served on the church’s staff even as she became addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs. Speaking with courage and integrity to some 400 persons in three worship services, she described her struggle, her surrender and her five years of sobriety, captivating the listeners and marking the most powerful Recovery Sunday event the team can remember.

After thanking the visiting speaker, a Safe Harbour team member in long-term recovery led a time of invitation for others to come forward to stand with them. First came the Safe Harbour team along with their family member, then others in recovery – both members and visitors – who were willing to stand at the front of the church. The energy in the worship center was palpable as men and women called out personal milestones of recovery – 37 years, 25 years, nine years, two and one-half years – repeated into the microphone so the congregation could acknowledge and celebrate with them. The final invitation asked those present to stand as a symbol of their willingness to support the efforts of the Safe Harbour team toward education, prevention and early intervention relating to alcoholism and other addictions.

Since trained by Faith Partners in 2007, the Safe Harbour team has averaged ten to twelve members, including therapists, addiction professionals, many family members of alcoholics and addicts, and youth. Asked about its ongoing success, the team first credits the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit, followed by the essential, dedicated support of Senior Pastor John Newsome, who speaks of addiction-related problems in his sermons and prayers throughout the year.

Another vital element of the team’s effectiveness is the participation of team members on Recovery Sunday. “I believe that our willingness to speak out about our own lives and how alcoholism and addiction have affected us and our families gives our congregation permission to become more forthcoming about their own problems,” says Don Oden who, with his wife Margie, facilitate the Safe Harbour team. In previous years, some Recovery Sundays have included team members’ brief verbal testimonies of five to ten minutes, while other years have featured “cardboard testimonies” in which men, women and youth have stood silently before the church holding hand-lettered signs that speak of their recovery and God’s grace. Besides the pastor’s support, the music ministry is a key element, with music specially selected to highlight the message of God’s grace.

“It’s hard for me to articulate what I was feeling during the service on Recovery Sunday,” wrote one new church member in an email to the team after this year’s event. “It’s rare to see such honesty and openness towards recovery and 12 step work in a church setting. It gave my heart great joy knowing the church I’m a member of acknowledges recovery and offers a place where people can find a solution. It was simply the most beautiful hour I have ever witnessed in a church service. It’s a blessing to know I am not alone.” She and her husband, both in recovery, have joined the Safe Harbour team.   Another woman who has been leading a women’s Bible study at Bay Harbour found herself on Recovery Sunday seated next to a visiting friend from her Alcoholics Anonymous group.

When recovering persons were invited to come forward, her friend stood up to answer the call and she froze with fear. “But I finally said to myself, be proud of what you’ve done! So I got up in front of a packed church and revealed that, yes, even a Bible study teacher can be an alcoholic and survive it. I never thought I would be proud of being a sober drunk, but I was that day!” She, too, has become a member of the Safe Harbour team.   As is typical for many church settings, the Safe Harbour team most often serves family members, but has also helped those suffering from alcoholism and addictions into recovery by connecting them with local 12 step meetings, even taking them or meeting them at their first meeting. That individual’s team contact continues to provide ongoing support and encouragement, keeping identities confidential even among team members. It is totally up to recovering persons if and when they feel comfortable revealing their struggles either in an annual Recovery Sunday service or in any other church setting, such as small study groups.

Currently the Safe Harbour team sees a growing edge in more intensive work with the thriving youth program at the church. In 2008, Bay Harbour and the Safe Harbour Team received a Community Champion award from the Bay Area Alliance for Youth and Families, an organization that unites more than 60 community resources in efforts directed toward the prevention of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among young persons. But there are always new generations of young people growing up.

Constance Bovier
Safe Harbour Team Member

 

Our Stories Have Power

April 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Success Stories

Our stories have power — to offer hope to the millions of Americans who have yet to find recovery — and to convince elected officials to invest in recovery.

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With a generous contribution from an anonymous donor, when you give to Faces and Voices of Recovery this season, your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar until DECEMBER 31. That means your donation will be worth twice as much.

Our stories of recovery from the ravages of alcoholism and substance abuse carry power out in the parking lot, in our church community and in our homes.

I’m Kathy Drewien and I am in long-term recovery, which means that I have not used alcohol for more than 30 years. I am committed to recovery because it has given me and my family new purpose and hope for the future, while helping me gain stability in my life. I am now speaking out because long-term recovery has helped me change my life for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same.

You are not alone

If your late night internet search has led you to this post, welcome. You can send a confidential message at any time. We’re listening.

Walk Demonstrates Faith Community Support

September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Success Stories

A weekend walk organized by Faith Partners ministry teams in the Paducah, KY area brought attention to supporting local recovery efforts. Recovery WalkThe walk was held along Paducah’s floodwall and participants included representatives from multiple church teams. The effort was intent on both drawing attention to and celebrating the successes of people reaching out for help in dealing with problems of alcohol and substance abuse. Turnout was impressive, and the event was reported on bt the local media.

Click on Recovery Walk for more information on this event and comments by participants

Article by Lauren Adams, WPSDLocal6 News, Paducah, KY

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