A United Methodist congregation in Columbia, Tennessee invites those dealing with addiction to be part of their community and find "solutions that aid in recovery from all your hurts, habits and hang-ups." At their FreshSTART ministry, church members welcome and walk with families struggling with the effects of addiction, alcoholism, poverty, incarceration, mental health issues and abuse.
Pastor Angy Trimmer says there is a need for programs like this everywhere. "This solution is not going to come from law enforcement, it's not going to come from incarceration, or stricter laws...The church has the answers, and the programs that are working are spiritually-based. As United Methodists if we pull together the strength of our connection, every church can do something."
(Annie Hardison hands out medallions) "Brown, for 7 months."
(Voice of Megan King) "I see people that I used to use with coming into the doors of church."
Stephanie Young: "It's really changed my life. I have not been able to remain clean and sober but nine months out of my whole adult life until now."
The Rev. Angelia Trimmer, Pastor, Craft Memorial United Methodist Church: "Beyond this drug epidemic, there's a spiritual crisis. There's something that the church could do and should do."
The Rev. Angelia Trimmer: "I'm Angy Trimmer and I'm the pastor of Craft Memorial United Methodist Church. I'm also missional director of Fresh Start in Columbia, Tennessee. No matter where your church is, addiction is an issue that faces your community. The jails are packed, the morgues are full."
Stephanie Young: "I had this place inside where I was empty, and I tried to fill it at first with alcohol, then with meth, marijuana, cocaine, relationships, but nothing could fill that hole. Nothing but God."
The Rev. Angelia Trimmer: "We don't just look at the person needs to stop using drugs and that's the solution. The solution is this person needs to be spiritually healed, and they need to find community, and a place to belong and a purpose that they are searching for. And when they can't find it in the world, they turn to a needle. But maybe they could find it if they looked in the church, and maybe if they don't find the church, the church can find them."
Derik Hayes: "It's bringing Jesus to us and helping us surrender our will and recovery in that way. The longer I'm here, the more active I become in this church."
Derik Hayes : "I just feel like it's our job, to go out and show people."
Timothy McGowan: "The program also gives me the ability to talk to other people about attending a different style of worship. I'm working with a couple of people at work trying to get them to come here."
Stephanie Young: "I'm involved in this church several days a week and that's what's saving my life. I have a relationship with my family now, with my children. I'm working everyday and I wasn't able to do that."
The Rev. Angelia Trimmer: "You know we're firmly convinced that this solution is not going to come from law enforcement, it's not going to come from incarceration, or stricter laws. And I believe that the church has the answers, and the programs that are working are spiritually based. As United Methodists if we pull together the strength of our connection, every church can do something. And if every community had a ministry, and all the churches pitched in, it could change the world."
(Annie Hardison hands out medallions) "Teal, for 4 months."
For more information, contact FreshSTART ministry at 931-505-2387.
This story was produced by United Methodist Communications. Contact is Fran Walsh at 615-742-5458.