Recovery at Maryville launches Wednesday evening
It was standing-room only, from what I hear, for the dry run of Recovery at Maryville, a new program that launches in earnest this week at First United Methodist Church.
A Christ-centered recovery program based on Celebrate Recovery that started in the East Tennessee area at Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Knoxville, “Recovery at Maryville” is the newest offering of a program for chemically dependent men and women seeking freedom from addiction through Jesus.
Celebrate Recovery began more than a decade ago at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and grew into a national phenomenon that offers a religious approach to helping addicts and alcoholics overcome their respective diseases. In East Tennessee, Celebrate Recovery traces its roots to 2003, when Gil Smith — himself in recovery — started a program based on the principles and guidelines that had worked so well at Saddleback. It’s since grown into a ministry that meets in several different locations throughout the area.
Recovery at Maryville isn’t the first Celebrate Recovery effort in Blount County; back in 2005, three local churches came together to start a Celebrate Recovery chapter at Embassy Christian Center on Old Niles Ferry Road, and since that time, other local religious institutions have started their own programs — some tied to the Saddleback method pioneered by the Rev. Rick Warren (author of “The Purpose Driven Life”), others tailored to their own specific denomination — Faith Promise Church and RIO both have their own programs that promote a religious approach to recovery, and the Salvation Army at the Cherokee Sports Complex in Maryville offers a Thursday night Celebrate Recovery meeting.
According to Al North, one of the scores of volunteers who have been organizing Recovery at Maryville since January, First United Methodist hopes to take a comprehensive approach to combatting addiction that will allow facilitators to work with other Celebrate Recovery programs, 12 Step groups and the local judicial system.
“You don’t have to be a member of the church to be a part of this,” North told me a few months ago. “Part of the ongoing effort is that every member on the leadership team is given a list of people to talk to — other churches in Blount County, the Drug Court, law enforcement. We’re encouraging people across the board to give this a try. It’s Christ-centered, but it’s nondenominational.”
The evening begins with a meal at 5:30 p.m., followed by a worship service that has a recovery focus — “We’ll bring in Scripture as it relates to the recovery process,” North said.
Afterward, the assembly will split into smaller groups, starting with Chemically Dependent Men, Chemically Dependent Women and a Family Support Group. There will also be an orientation group for newcomers, as well as a Co-Dependency Group for men and women, a Young Adult Group for teens and young people to open up about bullying and other issues and a “Life Hurts, God Heals” group for those dealing with grief and other emotional troubles.
“We’re looking at all the hurts, habits and hang-ups of life,” North said. “That’s why we have the variety of groups that we have.”
Childcare will also be provided for families with young children.
Churches are in the business of ministering to everyone, but I know from personal experience that many religious leaders have little experience with lost sheep who enter their houses of worship and talk about craving drugs and being so overwhelmed by those cravings that they’re willing to rob, cheat, lie, steal and hurt others to get those drugs. By the same token, there are those who are devout in their faith yet find themselves caught up in addiction or alcoholism, and the spiritual-not-religious direction of most 12-Step programs leaves them feeling less than fulfilled.
Celebrate Recovery is designed to bridge that gap. It doesn’t seek to replace traditional 12-Step programs; but where those programs encourage members to find a loving, caring Higher Power, Celebrate Recovery is decidedly Christ-centered and religious-based. Organizers hope it works in conjunction with other 12-Step groups, offering recovering Christians a place to go to find spiritual strength in addition to the unity and acceptance that comes from the power of one addict helping another.
Recovery at Maryville begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. First United Methodist Church is located at 804 Montvale Station Road in Maryville. For more information, call 982-1273 or visit http://www.recoveryatmaryville.com .
Steve Wildsmith is a recovering addict and the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at (email@example.com) or at 981-1144.