Program to help fight addictions through faith

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — Next week, New Life Church will become one of 35,000 churches worldwide to offer Celebrate Recovery, a faith-based program designed to combat addiction of all types.

Established 25 years ago by the Rev. John Baker of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and evangelical Christian pastor and author Rick Warren, the program claims to have helped release tens of thousands of people from their addictions through what are called “open-share groups” and a reliance on faith in Jesus.

That makes the 12-step program different from such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, who — although they may meet in local churches or have religious-sounding names — profess belief in a curative but unspecified “higher power.”

“Celebrate Recovery is very close to my heart,” said Beth Taylor, a church member, former victims’ advocate and recovering alcoholic who says faith ultimately is what ended “seven years of severe alcoholism and … has restored me to a right mind.”

Taylor’s husband, Brian, a probation officer, will facilitate the program at Place of Grace alongside her.

Meetings will be at 6:30 Mondays in the sanctuary of the church on Airport Road, so they don’t conflict with another faith-based addiction program that meets Tuesdays at The Wellspring church. Meetings will occur weekly, with dinner served this coming Monday and once a month thereafter, in keeping with the theme of celebration.

“There’s such a great need for these programs that there needs to be something accessible every night of the week,” Taylor said.

The program will address both addictions and “hangups,” she said: alcohol and other drug abuse, divorce recovery, domestic violence, gambling or pornography addiction, and sexual abuse and addiction. Both addicts and family members affected by the addictions will be welcomed, she said.

“Jesus didn’t come to save the saints,” Taylor said. “He came to save the sinners” — without censure or judgment. What is said in open groups will stay in open groups, she said, with emphasis on the Beatitudes: Jesus’s eight demands that Christians love one another, not just follow the letter of religious law.

“You don’t have to be a member of a church to attend,” she said, not even a Christian, although the program does credit Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the power to “lovingly see someone through” addiction and its various behaviors.

If people attend and leave, she said, they can always come back: “The doors open both ways.”

“This is going to be a celebration,” she said of the program. “This is a time for (people) to step forward and be happy.”

By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

CELEBRATE RECOVERY

What: a faith-based program designed to address various types of addiction

When: 6:30 p.m. Mondays, starting next Monday

Where: sanctuary, New Life Church, 575 Airport Road, Rockingham

Cost: free

Other: The program will use a curriculum created by its founders: the Rev. John Baker of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and evangelical Christian pastor and author Rick Warren.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]