Someone, somewhere, always is abusing drugs and drink, and that person and their loved ones are hurt as a consequence.
On the weekend of Sept. 21 and 22, St. John's-Newberry United Methodist Church will hold a "recovery weekend" to help heal those who have seen their lives broken by destructive vices.
Pastor Jay Jones will preach a sermon at all three services (5:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. Sunday) on passages from Jeremiah and Luke titled "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" An anointment with oil will be provided after the service to symbolize the healing power of God, and materials will be available at the church for those who need help finding help to get over addiction.
Above: Pastor Jay Jones, of St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church. Below, members of St. John’s-Newberry hold a banner during a recent walk around the neighborhood.
Jones said the recovery weekend was planned before the recent articles in the Sun-Gazette about the heroin problem in the region, and that he hopes his church can be part of the healing here.
The issue is personal to Jones.
"In a former community I was in, a recovering heroin addict lived with me for a short period," he said. "A short time after I moved out of there, he died of an overdose. This is, maybe, a personal crusade, if you will, and that also helped me realize the impact that addiction has on so many others, too. My hope would be to help somebody else avoid some of the pain I've gone through, and to provide some hope for those who are struggling with addiction, and some direction for some of the families."
One in three families have been affected by addiction nationwide, Jones says, and that number alone should be a call to the church to deal more openly with the issue.
"It's amazing to think about something that has had that much an impact on families is not dealt with more openly in the context of our congregations," Jones said. "We want to create a safe place where people can be real, and talk about some real issues that they deal with on a day-in, day-out basis."
Jones thinks that people are sometimes "hesitant in the context of the church that they don't want other people to know that they're experiencing this, they're afraid of judgment from others."
The St. John's-Newberry congregation is prepared to offer a safe place to those who need some help.
"We have people in the congregation who have struggled with addiction or gone through it with someone close, and they are willing to be mentors," Jones said. "They're willing to communicate to other people who are struggling with the same thing."
The hope is that while one weekend might not change everything, something might begin there that will help push toward a future where less must struggle with the problem of addiction.
"At my last church, we did a similar event and found some direction. At least some beginning points, some needs will come out of this," Jones said. "I went to the heroin task force meeting last week, and counted at least seven or eight clergy there representing other congregations. I'm hoping that may create some additional conversation in the ministerium itself."
For more information or to bring your stories or materials to recovery weekend, contact Jones at 326-5569 or email@example.com.