The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and substance abuse services along with other non-profits hosted a faith-based forum for religious leaders in Sevier County. The purpose was to provide information on the drug epidemic in Tennessee and encourage churches to provide recovery resources to their community.
Monty Burks, the director of faith based initiatives for the state agency, said there are about 12,000 institutions of faith across Tennessee. There is one in every county, he said. He believed they are strategically located to be on the front lines of this drug epidemic.
“It gives people in that community some hope. They don’t have to drive three counties over to have a recovery meeting or get information. They have stuff in their backyard,” said Burks.
Burks was all too familiar with breaking the cycle of addition. He’s been clean for almost 18 years.
“Someone introducing me to a fellowship, a recovery centered step program. That is what it took for me to figure out there was something out there for me,” he said.
Burk used his story to help other people. He hoped churches in Sevier County can connect addicts with treatment programs, a recovery community and criminal justice community. It’s help others in recover, like Tina Sands, wish they had. She came to this meeting after addiction controlled her life for 35 years.
“If I would have had some resources like they are trying to put out today, maybe I would have been in recovery a long time ago,” Sands said.
The pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Seymour also went to the meeting and plans to partner with Recovery at Seymour to help members of his congregation if they need it.
Burks has traveled to more than 70 out of the 95 counties in Tennessee. He plans to host faith-based forums in all of them.