By Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball
The Day of Hope continues a commitment to days, weeks, months and years of The United Methodist Church, in concert with other faith communities in West Virginia, to bring hope to families and communities dealing with issues of substance abuse.
As United Methodist’s, “We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons. We support abstinence from the use of any illegal drugs. Since the use of illegal drugs, as well as illegal and problematic use of alcohol, is a major focus in crime, disease, death, and family dysfunction, we support educational programs as well as other prevention strategies encouraging abstinence from illegal drug use and, with regard to those who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, judicious use with deliberate and intentional restraint, with Scripture as a guide. … We commit ourselves to assisting those who suffer from abuse or dependence, and their families, in finding freedom through Christ and in finding good opportunities for treatment, for ongoing counseling, and re-reintegration into society.” (Paragraph 162 (L) pages 120 – 121 The Book of Discipline 2012)
The Day of Hope reminds us that we need solution-oriented discussions in every congregation that will create a climate of support for families and individuals. My hope is that these discussions will lead to actions that seek to support those who are in recovery and sustained abstinence from substances of abuse. My hope is that in raising our levels of awareness and education that we will see that we can do something to support our youth and assist them in active ways to live drug-free lives.
Our faith and our belief that all persons are individuals of sacred worth calls for an active response to drug epidemic in our state. As a people of faith, we are to offer compassion for those suffering, ministries of healing for those who are sick, and hospitality within our sanctuaries for those seeking comfort and hope.
The Substance Abuse Prevention agencies across the state of West Virginia stand ready to assist you and your faith community with resources, information and workshops to assist all of us in creating a true day of hope. My prayer is that each faith community will find a way to respond and support those families and individuals who need help and support because of substance abuse or addiction.
You can find West Virginia Council of Churches resources and Substance Abuse Training information here: http://www.wvcc.org/substance-abuse-initiative-trainings.html