I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to the Annual Convention of the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church in Buffalo this June. Trinity Episcopal Church on Delaware Street hosted the conference. It is a fantastic building, or complex of buildings. Being a fan of great architecture, I love Buffalo. From the late 19th to early 20th century, Buffalo was the richest city in the country, per capita, and all the great architects of the time built something there. Then Buffalo fell on hard times, and did not rip down and destroy the great old things like so many cities did. They are now renovating and reviving the downtown. A great setting for a recovery ministry gathering!
I actually had to dig to find out about Recovery ministries, after a suggestion from our Bishop. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church laid the groundwork for this ministry with resolutions in 1979, and has passed additional resolutions at Convention in 1988, 1991, 2003 and 2009, all calling for ministry in this area. Recovery ministries appears to have become a well-kept secret, relinquished to the basement of the church like many recovery groups.
I was also prompted to get involved by my own life experiences, and by an award that Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City, received from the County for our work with the recovery community. I felt we could do far more than act as a place to hold meetings.
Recovery Ministries is an independent, nationwide network of Episcopal laity and clergy, dioceses and parishes, schools, agencies and other institutions – all with a common commitment to address the affects of addiction, in all its forms, in relation to the church’s mission. Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church is an organization with a mission to those who, through addiction, have lost their health and freedom. This ministry seeks to:
- Help the addicted and those who love them connect with spiritual resources and find lasting recovery.
- Witness to Christ’s unfailing mercy by welcoming unchurched members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs into an Episcopal faith community.
- Raise the awareness of bishops, and other clergy and leaders, about the disease of addiction and the redemption and grace found in recovery.
- Strengthen recovering Episcopalians in the work of their recovery and help proclaim the Gospel in the world and carry their recovery into the Church.
I am currently doing at least one service a month at Turning Point, a local recovery center. There are services held at Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City, in the Chapel every Saturday night. These use a general form of the 12 steps, used widely in a variety of recovery programs. The framework of traditional services found in the Book of Common Prayer is also used. Services are open to all in recovery or who wish to use the 12 steps as a spiritual tool.
Mark Elliston, member Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City and aspirant in the ordination process