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Why Would a Nonprofit Recovery Organization Host a Worship Service?

6/19/2013 8:00:00 AM
Written By:
Lauren McDonald

"Keep coming back. It works if you work it and it won't if you don't." If you attend a 12-step meeting you will most likely hear these words at the end of each meeting. Jan Brown, Founder and Executive Director of SpiritWorks Foundation Center for Recovery of the Soul, used to wonder what "it" was. She came to believe that "it" is "spirit." In 2005 she decided to create a community recovery organization in Williamsburg to be a safety net for those coming out of treatment for addiction. The name SpiritWorks seemed perfect. What works? Spirit works.

The second half of SpiritWorks' name is Center for Recovery of the Soul. Addiction is a brain disease, and it is a disease of the soul. It has been said that there is a God-shaped hole in our hearts, and many of us try to fill that hole with our addictions. Instead of seeking spiritual nourishment for our emptiness and instead of filling our hearts with our higher power, we try to stuff that empty hole full of alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, work, sex, people, internet, television, busyness, or whatever person, place, or thing we believe will take away the pain, hurt, and loneliness that we carry around inside of us. Those things do not fill us, though, and we are left just as empty as before, frequently with big messes to clean up.

At SpiritWorks we believe that working a spiritual program is an essential part of recovery, and we help people find the spiritual program that works for them. It may be a 12-step program or Celebrate Recovery. It may be a faith community or a support group. The important thing is that the program helps us to do our inside work. Being clean and sober is not enough. We have to learn to fill our emptiness with God as we understand God instead of people, places, and things. We need a community of support around us to encourage us and hold us accountable, to cheer us on when we are challenged, to lift us up when we're struggling, to celebrate our accomplishments and to tell us the truth, even when we don't want to hear it. The SpiritWorks community offers a safe place for people to get the support they need as they recover from addiction and its counterparts, mental illness and trauma.

There are a variety of ways to explore spirituality at SpiritWorks. Some 12-step groups hold their meetings at our center. We have an all Recovery group that incorporates Native American spirituality. Occasionally we offer labyrinth walks. Our wellness compass helps people integrate spirituality into their weekly schedule. Most recently we have begun offering a Recovery Worship Service on the first Friday of each month. It is a Christian service held at Bruton Parish Church incorporating prayer, music, scripture and spiritual readings, communion, and fellowship. Those who have attended have found it to be a service of healing and hope to which all are welcome. It is intended to offer an opportunity to worship with other members of the recovery community and to grow closer to God.

So, why would a nonprofit recovery organization host a worship service? Because… Spirit works!

For more information about the First Fridays Recovery Service or other SpiritWorks programs, please visit our website, www.spiritworksfoundation.org or contact us at 757-564-0001.

Rev. Lauren McDonald is the Director of Community Programming for SpiritWorks Foundation and the Episcopal Chaplain to Christopher Newport University. She earned her M.Div from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Chicago and has a Certificate in Spiritual Care-giving for Addicted Persons and their Families from NACOA. She is in recovery from codependence.

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