New England United Methodist Churches Gain Strategies to Launch Alcohol and Drug Team Ministries
Nearly 20 participants representing seven congregations across the New England annual conference gathered for a two-day training in North Andover, Massachusetts, on launching Alcohol and Drug Team Ministries in their local churches.
The training, held on February 12-13, was organized through a special partnership between the United Methodist Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV), and the Austin, Texas-based Faith Partners, Inc.
A 2001 Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse survey revealed that 94% of clergy consider substance abuse to be an important issue that their congregations face; and 38% found alcohol abuse involved in half or more of the family problems they confront. Yet only 12% of the clergy reported learning about substance abuse in their seminary training.
SPSARV has partnered with Faith Partners to equip local churches to respond to the adverse effects of chemical dependency on individuals, families, and communities. This model provides the denomination with an effective model for addressing drug and alcohol addiction in a congregational setting.
The Faith Partners Alcohol and Drug Team Ministry model is a laity-led ministry that provides new or strengthens existing congregational teams with a process for developing effective prevention, recovery, and public policy advocacy ministry responses to alcohol and other drug addictions.
The model features a three-part series of trainings, including a one-day leadership training. Most importantly, the Faith Partners model helps congregations realize their role as a healing place in communities.
The training, led by Drew Brooks and Jan Tipton of Faith Partners, addressed specific prevention, recovery, and advocacy strategies; team functioning; connection to community resources; and an initial plan of action.
On the first training day, the group learned about forming and building a team and the important roles of different team members. Next, participants developed their teams' mission statements.
The group reconvened on the second day to learn about prevention ministries, the importance of early intervention, recovery support, referral assistance (i.e., community resources), advocacy and systemic change. Finally, the teams began development of their team ministry plans to be enacted upon at the training's conclusion and return to their local congregations.
As part of a deeply moving closing session, several members of the group shared their experience, strength, and hope from either their own personal experience of addiction or that of family members.
"Hearing these poignant stories of struggle and survival served to take the group from a learning experience, which can sometimes feel remote, to a grounding in real human depravity and search for redemption that the training and their burgeoning ministries are all about," said Rev. Cynthia Sloan, SPSARV's program associate.
Sloan added that the New England churches are now far better prepared to address the drug and alcohol addiction issues within their midst.
For more information on the SPSARV-Faith Partners training, please visit SPSARV's website, www.umspsarv.org and click on the "training" link or contact Rev. Cynthia Sloan at 704-882-0282; email email@example.com.
Date posted: Jun 02, 2010