Episcopal Diocese’s Recovery Ministry Committee Offers Hope

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“Spirituality is important in recovery because addiction can take away one’s ability to be spiritual.  One’s only concern becomes oneself — there is a “disconnect” from everything else. When recovering from an addiction, spirituality helps us to change, to be able to have honest, compassionate and loving relationships with others.”Suzanne Fisher, Clinical Addiction Counselor, member of Recovery Ministries

The Episcopal Diocese of Easton established the Recovery Ministry Committee in 2011. This ministry grew out of the work of the national organization Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church (RMEC). The formation of this local ministry was under the leadership of Father Kevin Cross, Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity, Oxford and who was then president of RMEC. The initial focus of this ministry was to spread the Good News of God’s compassion and healing to communities.

At the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Fr. Kevin Cross represented Recovery Ministries and successfully advocated for major changes in church policies on healthier church practices around the use/non-use of alcohol at church events and creating a safe, welcoming environment at our churches for those in recovery.

At the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Fr. Kevin Cross represented Recovery Ministries and successfully advocated for major changes in church policies on healthier church practices around the use/non-use of alcohol at church events and creating a safe, welcoming environment at our churches for those in recovery.

This ministry began by offering monthly Eucharist celebration services that incorporated the use of 12-step programs into the Eucharist service central to their faith. This work has its historical roots in the ministry of the Episcopal priest, Father Sam Shoemaker, who was the spiritual director of Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step tradition. The 12-Step Eucharist service was originally developed by RMEC. These services draw a wide circle welcoming all members of the community suffering from the disease of addiction — believers and non-believers alike — who seek healing, compassion and understanding.

The Recovery Ministry Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton grew to include laity and clergy from around the Eastern Shore composed of professionals in the field of addiction treatment, individuals personally impacted by this disease and others who felt called to ministry. As the committee and its mission grew, the focus turned to addressing issues surrounding alcoholism and drug dependency and the use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs in relation to the church’s mission. According to Jim Proctor, committee member and president of Health Enhancements Center, the message is that “the addict is a very precious human resource who is worthy of compassion and support in his or her recovery.”

Whether in the workplace, which is Proctor’s area of expertise, or anywhere else in society, “we have a mission to those suffering and ourselves to help them reach their full potential.”

The Recovery Ministry offered a conference, Spirituality, Addiction and Recovery, in the fall of 2014, featuring the Rev. Dr. John MacDougall, Spiritual Director of Hazelden and author of the book, Being Sober and Becoming Happy. It also included members of the local recovery community who affirmed the importance of a strong spiritual foundation to support the work of recovery. This ministry has also facilitated the introduction of education on addiction to the diocesan youth retreat.

Upcoming Recovery Ministry Events

The Diocesan Retreat House in Hillsboro, Maryland is launching a series, Recovering a Spirit Filled Life: Freeing Ourselves Saturdays, October 22, 2016, February 11, 2017 and April 22, 2017.  Each session will focus on specific steps of the 12-Step program. This series is built around the touchstone that a life recovering from addiction is a healthy and active spiritual life.

In the coming year, the Recovery Ministry will offer a conference, Recovery and Co-Dependence March 25, 2017 and Bishop Chilton Knudsen, a well-known speaker and author on recovery, will be the keynote speaker.

In 2016, the Recovery Ministry Committee offered a retreat in partnership with the Diocese of Maryland. This diocesan partnership has continued. The Second Annual Recovery Retreat, April 28 – 30, 2017 will take place at the Claggett Retreat Center in Adamstown, Maryland. The retreat facilitator will be The Rev. Stuart Hoke, an Episcopal priest who pioneered a course of study on the Church’s role in the treatment of alcoholism and addictive illness. Stuart is a well-known national speaker and retreat leader.

The Recovery Ministry Committee’s other purposes are:

  1. Developing and implementing an effective diocesan policy on substance abuse and addiction
  2. Assisting the Bishop of Easton and staff in education of and interventions for diocesan clergy and employees who face alcoholism or other chemical addiction.
  3. Raising awareness about the disease of addiction and the redemption and grace found in recovery
  4. Strengthening those in recovery in the work of their recovery, helping proclaim the Gospel in the world, and carrying their recovery into the Church.

The committee commends and encourages the many programs offering treatment and support to persons suffering from the illnesses of alcoholism and drug addiction. Included among these programs are: Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, AlaTeen, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Narcotics Anonymous and various chemical dependency treatment programs and halfway houses. Most of the churches in our diocese host regular 12 Step meetings.

The Recovery Ministry Committee encourages parish and diocesan clergy, employees and leaders to become knowledgeable concerning local resources that offer education, intervention, treatment and continuing care for alcoholism and other chemical addictions.  For more information about this ministry and programs, please visit http://dioceseofeaston.org/our-ministries/recovery-ministry/

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