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Hope for the Holidays

'It's not church': Faith-based addiction recovery program in Sumter offers safety from loneliness during holiday season

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 11/22/19
The holidays can be an especially tough time for people struggling with addiction, according to John Sellar, ministry leader for a 12-step recovery group that meets at a church in Sumter, and he would know. The 59-year-old was an alcoholic before …

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Hope for the Holidays

'It's not church': Faith-based addiction recovery program in Sumter offers safety from loneliness during holiday season

Posted

The holidays can be an especially tough time for people struggling with addiction, according to John Sellar, ministry leader for a 12-step recovery group that meets at a church in Sumter, and he would know.

The 59-year-old was an alcoholic before entering the faith-based Celebrate Recovery group associated with Salt and Light Church, which meets every Friday, about 10 years ago. September marked 10 years of sobriety, he said.

"I think at times, the holidays can be a depressing time for people," Sellar said. "And, if they're struggling with addiction, then it really kicks in with the whole idea of 'This will get me over the hump; this will get me through the holidays.' It can be anything, but alcohol and drugs are usually the go-to things. I just think it's that sense of isolation and loneliness."

Salt and Light has a dinner that begins at 6:15 p.m. each Friday before the recovery meeting starts at 7 p.m. at 360 Miller Road.

The first hour of each meeting consists of a teaching from the 12 steps or an individual testimony time, depending on the week, he said. At 8 p.m., participants divide into small groups for discussion.

In part because the holidays can be a difficult time for some, the church will maintain its Friday group meeting schedule throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas and will even offer a couple extra opportunities, Sellar said.

On Friday, Salt and Light will offer a free Thanksgiving dinner at 6:15 p.m. for everyone who wants to attend before the 7 p.m. Celebrate Recovery meeting.

The Christian-based recovery program takes the Biblical teachings of Jesus Christ and applies them to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, he said.

It is not just for people who struggle with alcohol or drugs. Sellar said Celebrate Recovery is also for anyone who is struggling with life issues such as relationships, eating, smoking, divorce, codependency.

"At the end of the day," he said, "they're all the same thing. It's things that kind of weigh us down in life. That, to me, is one of the most unique things about Celebrate Recovery because it's not a specific issue - like Alcoholics Anonymous or just drugs - it's really any hurt, hang-up or habit you can think of."

Salt and Light's program also plans to have a gathering on New Year's Eve, he said.

Sellar emphasized Celebrate Recovery is open to everyone, regardless of church affiliation. Dress is come as you are, he said.

"This is not church," he said. "It's a recovery program, and it's faith-based, but it's not church. We try to stress that."

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Alice Drive Baptist Church, at 1305 Loring Mill Road, also has a Celebrate Recovery chapter on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. with the same programming schedule as Salt and Light.

The church's outreach pastor, Jock Hendricks, helps coordinate the program. It is held directly behind the main church building in The Studio, which is the student-ministry building, he said.

Coffee, water and snacks are provided.

Regular Celebrate Recovery programming will continue through the holiday season, Hendricks said.

"It's good to let people know they're not alone, but there are at least two different groups of people at two different churches on two different nights that can offer a safe place for people to deal with the things of life that a lot of folks deal with," Hendricks said. "They don't have to be alone in it, in the middle of the holidays."