Celebrate Recovery helping those in need

by Renee Hunter

OneChurch in Conway is one of 15 churches in the 501 that offers the national Celebrate Recovery program.

“At some time, everyone’s going to go through a hard situation in life,” said Allison Kerr, Central Arkansas State Representative and OneChurch Ministry leader, explaining that Celebrate Recovery’s aim is to give people a safe place to deal with their issues.

“It doesn’t really matter what your issue is,” she said, adding that the group welcomes co-dependents and enablers as well as addicts.

Besides the commonly thought-of addictions — alcohol, drugs and gambling — the group has reached out to those dealing with financial issues, pride, anger or depression.

The program offers small groups for children and teens as well as adults, since children can have issues too — divorcing parents, for example.

“We would like Celebration Place (the children’s group) to put Celebrate Recovery out of business,” Kerr said.

OneChurch Celebrate Recovery meets on Thursday evening, but there is a group meeting every weeknight held in various places in Central Arkansas.

The OneChurch group averages about 15 people a week, Kerr said, although it has had as many as 40. She estimated that the group has helped about 150 people since its formation in January.

People come and go, according to Kerr. Some leave once their issues are resolved, and some stay to serve as mentors for others. For those, the group becomes a discipleship group. Newcomers are welcome at any time.

Celebrate Discovery is a Christ-centered program begun 25 years ago at Saddleback Church in California. The name is a registered trademark, and any group that uses the name is required to commit to seven stipulations:

1. Jesus Christ is the Higher Power.

2. The Bible and Celebrate Recovery curriculum are to be used exclusively.

3. Groups must be gender specific.

4. Groups must be face-to-face.

5. The Celebrate Recovery “Five Small Group Guidelines” must be followed at each meeting.

These guidelines are:

Individuals are expected to focus on their own feelings and thoughts.

There is strict anonymity/confidentiality.

Group members don’t “fix” others, only themselves.

“Cross-talk” is not allowed; each participant is to be a respectful listener.

No offensive language is allowed, neither obscenities nor graphic descriptions.

6. Each group is accountable to Christ, the local church and the Celebrate Recovery model.

7. Celebrate Recovery does not dictate doctrine or policy to a local church.

Celebrate Recovery uses a 12-stage recovery program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, with each step backed up by specific scriptures, and focuses on one step each month. The steps include admitting powerlessness over one’s addictions, believing in a higher power (Christ), willingness to turn one’s life over to God, making a fearless moral inventory, admitting wrongs to God and others and asking God to remove defects of character and shortcomings, and using prayer and meditation to improve relationship with God.

Because following these steps sometimes leads group members to need outside help, Kerr said her group is seeking to “beef up our resources” by gathering information on rehabilitation centers, therapists, food banks and transitional living facilities to suggest to members when necessary.  

“This truly has changed my life,” said Kerr, who has been involved in Celebrate Recovery for about eight years. She began in the program at New Life Church, and brought the program to OneChurch.

“I’ve known for the last six years that this is what God has called me to do as a ministry; I’ve found a family — a group of people to help.”

People who think that Celebrate Recovery can help them just need to show up, Kerr said. To find a group, visit celebraterecovery.com.