United Methodist Churches Reach Out to Addicts

( [email protected] ) Sep 15, 2004 01:35 PM EDT

Saint Paul, Minnesota—Central Park UMC dedicates the Sunday morning service to those recovering from addiction. A suggestion that Campe add a

recovery ministry quickly turned into Sunday service.

The Rev. Jo Campe starts the service by introducing himself as, “My name

is Jo, and I’m an alcoholic.” He has been celebrating nine years of being

alcohol free. His previous addiction “cost him the pastorate at one of

Minnesota’s largest United Methodist congregations and nearly killed him”


The church was dying out, but after tailoring ministry to addicts, it has

grown from 12 elderly members to 250 members reflecting a diversity of

denominations, faiths, ages, races, economic background, and addictions,

such as alcoholism, eating, or gambling. But all were there to heal.

Campe testifies, “I know what it’s like. I had a shotgun to my head, and I

was a drunk driver. So, it’s not a matter of ‘Isn’t it nice that we go to

church and do our prayers.’ It’s a matter of life and death. There’s a

sense of sincerity, which means that our joy is not cheap joy and our

grace is not cheap. We know what the bottom has been like, and we have

chosen to live again.”

Jesus did say that he did not come to call the righteous ones but the

sinners. Terry McKinley, a Mortgage banker and a recovering alcoholic

described the members of the congregation as “the broken, the fallen, and

the sinners that Christ came to work with and to save.”

Many members of the church feel that the new ministry welcomes them, when

they have oftentimes felt rejected by other churches. Through this

ministry, they have had the chance to be reconnected to their faith.

McKinley shows humility in saying, "We’re here showing off our dirty underwear, not

our fancy clothes. It’s the common ground that brings us together and

that’s what makes this place so special”.