The Church Responds to the Opioid Crisis


The statistics tell a disturbing story: 70,237 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017 - 47,600 of them opioid-related. Can the church respond to this national emergency and help save lives as well as souls?

Parishes in West Virginia are doing just that through ministries as diverse as clean needle exchange, prayer and mentoring with former addicts.

Read all the stories in the UMNS special report on the opioid crisis and learn how churches are providing caring connections for substance abuse sufferers. 


The Rev. Jeff Allen walks through the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston. Allen, executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches, says it's important for the faith community to be heard in matters of public policy. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Pastors push to help addict offenders rejoin society

Some say religion should stay separate from politics. Others feel the church is called to advocate for mercy and justice.

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Kate Rhodes (left) leads students from House of the Carpenter back from a field trip on Wheeling Island in Wheeling, W.Va. Rhodes was serving as youth coordinator for the program's Pre-Work Camp, which teaches basic employment skills to middle school students. House of the Carpenter is a mission project of The United Methodist Church's West Virginia Conference. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Churches embrace becoming foster parents

West Virginia has one of the highest rates in the nation of children removed from homes due to drug abuse, and one of the lowest rates of new homes for them. Clergy felt called to respond.

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Kate Rhodes (left) leads students from House of the Carpenter back from a field trip on Wheeling Island in Wheeling, W.Va. Rhodes was serving as youth coordinator for the program's Pre-Work Camp, which teaches basic employment skills to middle school students. House of the Carpenter is a mission project of The United Methodist Church's West Virginia Conference.

Ministries help children affected by addiction

Children in addicted households are in danger of falling into the same cycle without support. One devoted mentor can make a world of difference.

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Wayne Worth (right) embraces Roger outside his home in Fisher, W.Va. Worth, a member of United Methodist Temple in Clarksburg, was passing out flyers containing information about local resources for anyone struggling with addiction, when he met Roger. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Outreach ministry for addiction is simple, effective

For the cost of a ream of paper and some printer ink, a United Methodist layperson in West Virginia is confronting his state’s opioid epidemic one door at a time.

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Ann Hammond (right) tells the Rev. Barry Steiner Ball of her plans for creating a recovery house for women living with addiction in an older home on the grounds of United Methodist Temple in Clarksburg, W.Va. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Conference asks 'What If' the church confronted the opioid crisis?

Constant media coverage of opioid epidemic makes it seem hopeless, but churches in West Virginia are offering hope instead.

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Program director Caitlin Sussman (left) joins in singing with the Voices of Hope choir at Friendship House, a mental health drop-in center in Morgantown, W.Va. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Relationships key for churches to help addicts

It's said the opposite of addiction is connection, and making connections is helping West Virginia churches be in ministry with substance abusers.

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Andy, a recovering addict, gets a smooch from guard dog Tundra while feeding chickens at Brookside Farm, part of the Jacob's Ladder rehabilitation program in Aurora, W.Va. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Churches walk with addicts on recovery journey

West Virginia United Methodist churches find numerous ways to support people in recovery from addiction. Just being there may be most important.

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The Rev. Paula Napier lost her 32-year-old son, Lincoln Nutter, to a drug overdose in June 2018. Napier, who pastors Canaan United Methodist Church in Charleston, W.Va., says she lives in the midst of the opioid crisis. “I think people need to know it hits everybody,” she said. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Pastors cope with sons’ overdose deaths

Pastors are expected to care for their congregations. When two United Methodist clergy lost sons to overdoses, their congregations helped care for them.

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Jim (left), a resident at Jacob's Ladder recovery home, checks in with Mark Utterback, director of farming. Residents help with livestock, bale hay, collect firewood and maintain machinery during their six-month stay. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.
Jim (left), a resident at Jacob's Ladder recovery home, checks in with Mark Utterback, director of farming. Residents help with livestock, bale hay, collect firewood and maintain machinery during their six-month stay. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

 

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Daily digest - August 23, 2019

Filipino United Methodists condemn latest violence; Church rises from ashes of 2016 wildfire; Bishop tours struggling Illinois farms
Social Concerns
Norma P. Dollaga, a United Methodist deaconess, joined other religious groups during an Aug. 20, 2019, protest decrying the killings and violence on Negros Island. Filipino United Methodists have strongly condemned the bloodshed. Photo courtesy of Tetang Dollaga, UM News.

Filipino United Methodists condemn latest violence

State terrorism prevails on Negros Island, the Philippines Board of Church and Society said in condemning the latest killings.
Social Concerns
Anti-extradition demonstrators march to call for democratic reforms, in Hong Kong, China, July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu.

As Hong Kong protests continue, so do prayers

Methodist resident says Christians reach out to both protesters and the government in a spirit of prayer.