Church seeks to expand healing ministry



It’s not always the alcoholic or the opioid addict who reaches out for a 12-step recovery program to help get back on track.

Sometimes, it’s the depressed nursery school teacher, the codependent mom who feels constantly down because her husband is unhappy, or the son who suffers from anxiety.

During the past few years, Miami Lakes United Methodist Church has focused on helping those with addictions to heal. This year, it is expanding its Celebrate Recovery program with a hope that others will realize they, too, can find healing.

Miami Lakes rang in 2019 with a New Year’s Eve service called a Night of Healing. That led in to a 12-week sermon series and Bible study based on the 12 steps of recovery.

“We have been ministering to people suffering from addictions through Celebrate Recovery for two years and believe that it will be really beneficial to help the whole congregation heal, not just those that suffer from addictions,” said LeeAnne Delgado, the church’s communications coordinator.

Miami Lakes United Methodist Church is expanding its Celebrate Recovery program to include not just alcohol and drug addicts, but also those who suffer from anxiety and depression or other types of addictions. The church began a 12-sermon series on New Year's Eve about the 12-step Christian-based program. -Photo by Yvette C. Hammett

“Basically, it was an augmented version if Celebrate Recovery that happens on Monday nights, anyhow. We wanted to have something for everyone,” she said. “And New Year’s Eve is a huge trigger for those with addictions.”

Only five people showed up for Night of Healing, but they were five people who really needed it, Delgado said.

During the New Year’s Eve program, Delgado spoke, sharing testimony about her own depression and how she turned from being concerned with her husband’s opinions and trying to please him, to working to please God, she said.

“We had sharing of testimony, worship with our leader and choir director. They sang and played. There was a little message from our choir director; and we recited the 12 steps and serenity prayer, then broke in to small groups and had sharing time and a delicious pot luck dinner,” Delgado said. “We talked about issues” each one is facing.

The Celebrate Recovery ministry draws about 20 people each week.

“That has inspired us to do the sermon series, kind of more geared toward the whole congregation,” Delgado said.

Many church members think it is only a program for alcohol and drug addicts, even though there are regular announcements about Celebrate Recovery’s purpose.

“We are breaking it down, talking more about healing instead of recovery,” Delgado said. “It is more packaged in a way that everybody can realize it may be for them.”

During Celebrate Recovery weekly meetings, men and women meet in separate groups. People can be more open when separated by gender.

“Once someone has gone through 12 steps, they can share with everyone. But as far as weekly sharing, it stays separate,” she said.

The goal is really to help the whole congregation understand what benefits they can receive from working a 12-step Christian-based program whether recovering from eating too much chocolate to something deeper.

“We are making it accessible to everyone,” Delgado said. “People might run in to a friend or neighbor and they can tell them about the program. Everyone is welcome.”

—Yvette C. Hammett is a freelance writer in Valrico



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