God is Key to Recovery
By Lindsay Peyton
FUMC Bryan has a long history for helping individuals recovering from addiction. Now the church is preparing to go a step further and planning for a new ministry “Open Door” to launch in a few months.
Senior Pastor Rick Sitton explained that the church hosted Narcotics Anonymous for more than 10 years, before he ever came to the congregation. There are also Al-anon and AA groups that meet on campus.
Jennifer Webber, lead pastor of contemporary worship at FUMC Bryan, also offers regular sermons at an adult residential and outpatient treatment facility for substance abuse and addiction in the Brazos Valley called BVCASA.
“We want to offer grace to broken people,” Sitton said. “Our world is full of brokenness. It affects every family. When we can reach out and help with the power of the Gospel and the power of Jesus, we want to make it our top priority.”
When Lanny Parker, a longtime addiction therapist, recently joined the church, it felt like a godsend. He connected with member Jim Laird, and together, they wanted to start “Open Door,” a new 12-step program.
Empowering church members to start ministry is exactly what FUMC Bryan is all about, Sitton explained.
“We want to create ministry from the bottom up,” he said. “We’re looking where God is already at work. Jim and Lanny had it in their hearts to do this.”
Parker, Laird, Sitton and Webber put a plan into action and decided to launch Open Door in January.
“Jim and Lanny are called to lead using Biblical principles,” Webber said. ““They’re here to walk with you.”
The group will meet from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays at the Fellowship Hall in the Education Building at FUMC Bryan, 506 E. 27th St.
Parker moved to the Bryan area from Wisconsin about 16 months ago. “For the past 25 years, I had the privilege of working with people that the world has thrown away,” he said. “And I’m not done.”
He spent time as an alcohol and drug counselor, as well as recovery coach. He also has his own history with addiction.
In his previous posts, however, Parker has often felt restricted in his ability to help others, because faith is not always welcome in programs.
With his new concept, Open Door, God is truly allowed to become part of the recovery process, Parker explained. “I can pray, I can love, I can witness and I can serve,” he said. “At the same time, we can build disciples.”
His goal is greater, he explained, than simply recovering old ways of life. “God provides his children with ways for complete transformation,” he said.
Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12 step program, will be the core of a varied curriculum at Open Door.
“We want to make sure our curriculum works for each individual,” Parker said.
His mission is to offer restoration and hope, to assist with life’s challenges. “We want to honor God in everything we do, to be inspired by the compassion Christ offers,” Parker said.
In addition, Open Door can provide fellowship, he said. Members can come together and strive to be more like Christ, free from addiction through the gospel.
He explained that his role is to give hope to group members. “It’s hope beyond recovery,” Parker said.
The symbol for the group is a key, and Parker plans to give each person a skeleton key to hold when they join. That way they can always remember the way to transformation.
“The key is Jesus if you want to change your life,” Parker said. “God wants to help you, no matter where you are. He’s ready and waiting to help. We just need to let him.”