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Series being offered for pastors: Goal to equip spiritual leaders to help those dealing with addiction

A new Lunch and Learn series is being started to help equip pastors and church leaders as they minister to those battling drugs and their families. The event is free. 

The Hope Network and the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) will be hosting the first of the quarterly meetings geared toward pastors and those in ministry on Aug. 22 at Calvary Baptist Church. The topic of the first meeting will be Treatment, Counseling and Recovery Resources for Pastors and will feature Liz Cook, of Cook Counseling Therapy, LLC.; and Mike Cox, the president of Isaiah House.

The idea to host the series for pastors came out of the Faith Leaders Conference, held in May, said Kathy Miles with the Boyle County ASAP.

“We had people fill out the evaluation and one of the questions was, ‘What more detailed information do you need to help you do this work better?’ We knew that conference was going to be an overview on some things and we wanted to hone in on to help them in their daily work, to deal with this issue,” she said.

So often, Miles said, churches have avoided talking about drug addiction and many pastors have never been trained in how to help those affected. Brent Rowe, vice chair of the Hope Network and pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, agreed.

“A lot of our pastors are just simply not well-enough equipped to try to minister and help. They’re doing the best they can,” he said. “We want pastors to feel more comfortable, more confident, in being able to help.”

As a pastor, Rowe himself knows the type of training many receive in seminary. “When I went through seminary, there was no mention of drug addiction,” he said.

Hope Network, through these events, hopes to change that, and bring the conversations out of the dark.

“I think that’s one of the strengths with what we’re doing with Hope Network: there are no condemnations. We want to meet people where they are, offer them the hope of Christ and help them get help,” Rowe said. “We are removing the condemnation, removing the taboo, saying Christ loves you … the church wants to be a place where people feel they can come to get help.

“We’re trying to create that culture in our own community. Everyone knows it’s a need. We don’t want to avoid it, we want to provide help.”

Miles said the focus of the Lunch and Learn is to provide tools so pastors can provide that help. “We want to give them some much more specific tools,” she said. Tools like knowing what levels of treatment are available, knowing what questions to ask people if they call in need of help for themselves or a family member and paying for treatment.

“It’s really to give them some tools. Some very concrete, down-to-earth tools,” Miles said.

They also want to bring the trainings local and make them free, removing barriers from pastors that might keep them from attending a similar training elsewhere. “We want to offer something relatively brief, chocked full of good information,” Miles said.

The two speakers were selected for their experience — Cook works in an outpatient setting, while Cox manages a residential treatment facility. Both have strong backgrounds, Miles said. 

Preregistrations for the Lunch and Learn are required, Miles said, because they will be providing lunches for every attendee from Melton’s Great American Deli.

Other Lunch and Learn events will be held, one in November, dealing with loss related to drug abuse; and again in January, related to suicide prevention.

The one on suicide prevention was specifically requested, Miles said.

They plan to continue hosting the events, all with a mental health and substance abuse focus. The locations will change each time, too.

Although the events are oriented toward pastors and church leaders, anyone can attend, she said. They are also meant to bridge the denominational divide, she said, which is one of the goals of Hope Network.

“It’s about reaching across the denominational lines. That’s the only way this is all going to get better, is for people to get out of their silos and know we have common needs that we need to work on,” Miles said.

SO YOU KNOW

Treatment, Counseling and Recovery Resources for Pastors will be 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 22 at Calvary Baptist Church, 401 Waveland Avenue in Danville. Register for the free event by emailing Kathy Miles at kathy.miles@centre.edu. Registration must be complete by Aug. 18; preregistration is a requirement in order to provide lunch for all participants.