Bismarck church to launch recovery ministry

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BISMARCK — New Song Church in Bismarck is launching a recovery ministry this fall, aiming to provide a safe place for people recovering from addictions and other struggles.

The Celebrate Recovery community ministry starts Sept. 8, geared for anyone with a "hurt, habit or hang-up."

"It doesn't matter what your hurt is, your habit or your hang-up, the steps to healing and wholeness are really the same," said Jill Becker, a member of the leadership team.

Becker attended a training seminar in North Carolina last year to learn how to launch a Celebrate Recovery program after hearing from a counselor that it would fill a need in Bismarck. She and eight other leaders have spent several months preparing to start the new nondenominational ministry, including going through the program themselves.

About half of the people leading the program have struggled with chemical dependency in the past, including Tyler McKay, of Bismarck. McKay said, after he got sober from drugs and alcohol, he found that he still had to work on anger and other issues.

"When you get sober from the epidemics that are in North Dakota right now, you still are faced with who you are, which is kind of hard to deal with, or was for me," McKay said.

The ministry, founded at Saddleback Church in California more than 25 years ago, incorporates 12 steps that are similar to Alcoholics Anonymous but are Christ-centered. The program also features eight principles derived from the Bible that Becker calls "God's roadmap to recovery."

The program, which is open to anyone, aims to help people who have been affected by a long list of issues, ranging from abandonment to eating disorders to depression.

Each week, the service will begin with a dinner, followed by a large group worship service with teaching and testimony on the 12 steps or eight principles.

"This is a large support group that will happen every Friday night, hopefully indefinitely," Becker said.

Participants will break into gender-specific groups, where people can choose to share personal stories and get support.

The group is bringing brochures to area counselors, AA meetings, parole officers and others to promote the ministry.

"We feel the need is here, so, over time, we expect it to grow," said Greg Molinaro, a lay pastor at New Song and member of the leadership team.

Capital Christian Center in Bismarck also hosts Celebrate Recovery, with men's and women's groups that meet regularly. Bismarck has had other Celebrate Recovery ministries in the past, but those disbanded after leaders moved out of the area, Molinaro said.

New Song, which is also partnering with other churches, plans to continue to train new leaders to maintain the program.

"The whole idea was to make sure that we're always training new leaders, always training replacements," Molinaro said.

As North Dakota faces an opioid epidemic, Pamela Sagness, director of the Behavioral Health Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services, said the faith-based community is a "vital partner."

"There are many paths to recovery, and, for some individuals, their faith is the key," Sagness said. "In North Dakota, the reach of our faith-based partners into rural areas is pivotal in supporting individuals in small communities across the state."

The first meeting is at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 8 at New Song, 3200 N. 11th St. More information is available at the Facebook page for Celebrate Recovery at New Song Bismarck.