MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Area churches are responding to the opioid epidemic, making recovery one of their missions. It’s possible through money they raised, which normally would go to missions overseas, as congregations want to offer support for people facing addiction.
The impact of opioids is still visible in East Tennessee. The latest figures from the Knox County District Attorney’s Office show 102 suspected opioid overdose deaths so far this year.
More than 800 United Methodist congregations that make up the Holston Conference have raised $100,000 this year to create recovery ministries in their community.
“Every week when we meet together there’re so many new faces and a lot of familiar faces. It’s a blessing to see people come in and come back to life as they start from day one,” said Matt Hall, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church Maryville.
Hall leads the Celebrate Recovery program at the church.
“I’m in recovery myself so it’s something that’s very personal to me,” he said.
Leadership within Holston Conference say opioid addiction became the focus this year with mission grants because a number of congregations voiced the opioid epidemic was impacting many families in their communities.
“When I think about the ministries that we’re getting ready to launch, my heart is both saddened and overjoyed. I’m overjoyed that the churches are wanting to come together and do something to end this epidemic but I’m saddened we have to address this,” said Tim Jones with Holston Conference.
The Celebrate Recovery ministries focus on a faith-based curriculum including preventing drug abuse, supporting families struggling with addiction and inspiring people to seek treatment and counseling.
“The spirit is alive and it’s making a difference,” said Belit Garland.
Garland says she’s celebrating four years of sobriety and is in recovery for a substance use disorder. Every week she comes to worship at Celebrate Recovery, “It has to be more people like me, like Matt and the community as a whole getting together and doing something about the problem. People are dying daily, and we gotta rise up and help one another and it starts with us.”
First United Methodist Church of Maryville started holding Celebrate Recovery worship services on Wednesday nights six years ago.
“I started coming because my son was in active addiction and I wanted to do something to help,” said Jan McCoy.
McCoy says seeing other Methodist congregations in the area get the opportunity to start similar ministries is exciting.
“I didn’t know who to turn to and it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to go somewhere where somebody understands what you’re going through, who can walk with you through it,” said McCoy.
There are a number of Methodist congregations in Knoxville already participating in Celebrate Recovery programs including: Central, Christ, Cokesbury, Concord, Ebenezer, Fairview, Fountain City, New Salem, Powell and Trinity.
In most cases, Celebrate Recovery worship services begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays with a meal, all are welcome to worship. If you can’t make the service, you can watch the livestream by clicking here.
For more information about Celebrate Recovery ministries through the Holston Conference, click here.