Samaritan Counseling will hold Conference For Clergy
Newman Center at the University at Buffalo, North Campus
495 Skinnersville Rd, Buffalo, NY 14228
Applying a spiritual solution to the opioid epidemic is not a strategy employed here locally.
Other parts of the country, however, have begun using “spiritual weapons of warfare” to help the addicted and their long-suffering families.
The Samaritan Counseling Center (SCC) is exploring techniques used in other areas in an effort to help those affected by the opioid epidemic.
A key piece of SCC’s approach is to gather the local religious community—of all faiths—to determine what they can do to help.
On March 28th, SCC will hold a multi-faceted conference designed to help clergy members work with their congregations and members to address addiction within their families and among their loved ones. The conference will specifically provide strategies to assist clergy in supporting those with substance abuse disorders and their family members. Clergy may then follow up by starting support groups for their congregations if none currently exist. Counseling will be made available to those in need through the Samaritan Counseling Center and clergy will be encouraged to make referrals. Resources and support services for families suffering addiction will also be given to clergy for future use.
“The truth is, most local churches in America, big or small, are as woefully unprepared to handle this problem as most other institutions of society,” says Rev. Richard Cizik of Celebration Anglican Church in Fredericksburg, VA and president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, who himself lost his 23-year-old son to an overdose.
“Our entire community—civic leaders, clergy, educators and law enforcement—needs to respond to this epidemic. That begins by acknowledging it,” continues Rev. Cizik. “Our churches should be at the forefront of a campaign that says clearly and unequivocally: There is no shame. Not in having an addiction. Not in seeking help. But for most white churchgoers (conservative and liberal), let’s face it—drug abuse is not even on the radar screen. That’s what happens somewhere else. To someone else. On the other side of town. No more. The real-life consequence of a failed 40-year drug war is a kind of pain that is unimaginable until it happens to you. Pray that it doesn’t.”
The SCC held their first conference—Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: An Education, Engagement and Empowerment Workshop for Clergy—in January. The response was so great, with demand so high, that they decided to hold this March conference, with new speakers and new panelists.
Clergy throughout the country are grappling with addiction. This past October, Reverend Scott Ciosek of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Dartmouth, MA held a service of hope and healing for those struggling with addiction which brought about 40 people together. Rev. Ciosek said he thinks a lot of people may feel like God has shut them out and due to their life story or self-image feel like they wouldn’t be welcome in a church. “But the church isn’t a club for the perfect,” he wants people to know.
“We are so open and welcoming and we have proven that sense of welcome to people that are struggling with addiction,” he continued. Rev. Ciosek, is also the executive director of the (church related) The Bridge: a Center for Hope and Healing which facilitates grief groups such as Healing Broken Hearts for those who have lost loved ones to addiction or overdose.
Reverend Jan Hubbard of the Samaritan Counseling Center and the Hamburg United Methodist Church is coordinating our local conference. A big advocate of clergy supported recovery assistance, she lists three main goals for the conference:
- To Educate clergy with knowledge and tools necessary to address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components of addiction and so support individuals and families in a recovery process.
- To Engage clergy with 12 step and other recovery models and programs that address addiction in our community.
- To Empower clergy to utilize tools of scripture, meditation, prayer and small groups to address issues of shame, guilt, grief and low self-esteem in individuals and families struggling with addiction and to support them in the recovery process.
As an anonymous clergy member stated, “Most of us as church leaders have felt the Spirit convicting us to do something to help, yet we’ve felt underprepared and unsure of what exactly to do.”
9:00 am—4:00 pm
Cost $10—Lunch Provided
8:30 am, Registration
8:55 am, Welcome and Brief Overview of Samaritan Counseling Center
Dr. Frank Bartscheck
Education: Avi Israel – an introduction to the Problem of Opioid Addiction in America and a personal journey
9:45 am, Chris Frigon-Understanding Addiction and the Road to Recovery
11:15 am, A Look At Addiction—One Addict’s Story—Tracy Diina
11:30 am, Lunch
12:15 pm, Engagement: with the 12-step recovery program:
Theresa Walker and Penny McKenna
1 pm, Break
1:10 pm, Clergy Tools for support of Individuals and Families:
Dealing with the Addiction- Loss Cycle- Building Resilience – Jan Hubbard
2:00 pm, Empowerment: Panel Presentation and Q&A
Mary Kelly: Recovery Group at Central Park UMC
Cheryl Moore: Erie County Health Dept.
Kenny Smith: 2nd Chance Ministries
Traci Archer: In His Name Outreach
Molly Clauss: Save the Michaels of the World
3:50 pm Concluding Comments
For further information about the conference: contact Rev. Jan Hubbard at 868-2408.
Space is limited so participants should register as soon as possible at www.sccwny.com/events or by calling Rev. Jan Hubbard at 868-2408 or the Samaritan office at 743-9117.
The Samaritan Counseling Center has provided the community with life-changing interventions and the resources for ongoing recovery and resiliency for the past 60 years—in a spiritual, faith oriented context–in 15 satellite locations in Western New York. The SCC focuses on the mental health of people who are lower income and underprivileged—and thereby, unable to afford more expensive types of counseling. Assistance is targeted toward those who are at risk, have limited funds and/or lack insurance coverage for counseling. Community members who might normally fall through the cracks receive the helping hand and assistance they deserve.
In addition to counseling services, the center provides consultations, training, workshops, and educational programs for physicians, clergy, agencies, congregations, and groups.
Funding for the conference was provided in part by the Lutheran Church Extension Society.