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SPSARV The "Speak About It" podcast series profiles people from communities that have received SPSARV grants.

MP3 Audio FileMr. Jack Fryer (MP3, 11:15, 128 kbps, 10.3mb)

SPSARV Podcast Highlights Mr. Jack Fryer, Who Helps Local Churches Engage in Recovery Ministries

As anyone who is working the 12-Steps knows, part of one's recovery is to commit to helping others who are trying to begin recovery from chemical addiction. Mr. Jack Fryer founded Addiction Treatment and Transition Support Ministry (ATTSM) through the Arkansas Conference as part of his own recovery from addiction to alcohol. ATTSM is a coalition of faith-based partners who support the Sugar Loaf Center, a transition house just east of Heber Springs, Arkansas, for those recently released from prison.

When those formerly incarcerated leave prison, a variety of factors can contribute to recidivism, or re-offending. Some of these factors include the lack of additional treatment, appropriate housing, and employment. Additionally, caring people who can provide the necessary kind of skills and environment are crucial for a person to begin supporting themselves and their families again. The Sugar Loaf Center provides just this kind of supportive environment, offering low-cost housing and food, so that clients' basic needs are cared for, and they can focus on longer-term goals for their lives, eventually supporting themselves again.

Mr. Fryer's vision for supporting those who, like himself, had been formerly incarcerated and chemically dependent involved the collaboration of local community partners--especially area churches. Arkansas Conference and Pulaski Heights UMC provided seed money for ATTSM. Then, working with First UMC of Heber Springs and a grant from the United Methodist Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV), Mr. Fryer expanded his efforts to open an additional transitional living facility using the Oxford House model. An Oxford House is a "democratically run, self-supporting and drug-free home." Oxford House, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit, networks and connects all Oxford Houses and "allocates resources to duplicate the Oxford House concept where needs arise."

Though many United Methodist congregations support the recovery community by providing free space to12-Step groups, Mr. Fryer recommends that local congregations look into the Oxford House, Inc., and/or develop a relationship with a local transitional housing facility to expand their ministry. His heart is in this work, and SPSARV is pleased to offer you this opportunity to hear the passion in his voice.

Information for this article was compiled from "Ministry starting to support those recovering from substance abuse," (PDF) by Heather Hahn in The Arkansas United Methodist and oxfordhouse.org.

After listening to this episode of SPSARV's "Speak About It!" series, start your own conversation around issues of homelessness, addiction, and the church's mission in our world. SPSARV Program Associate Juliana M. Mecera offers the following questions as discussion starters.

Podcast Study/Discussion Questions

It is likely that multiple families in your congregation have an immediate family member or relative who has been addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Consider setting up safe space (PDF) ground rules for discussion.

1. You may wish to start your discussion with prayer and/or with Scripture. Have a volunteer share a prayer. Then, begin by reading Romans 8:37-39, taking time to reflect for a few moments of silence after the reading.

2. Jack Fryer's story is one of hope and recovery. In considering your current challenges, how is Romans 8:37-39 a word of hope for you?

3. What was your favorite part of Jack Fryer's story? Why?

4. Consider popular stereotypes about people who suffer from addiction and/or are incarcerated. What words and phrases come to mind? Brainstorm freely as a group, out loud. Have a volunteer record your thoughts on a large easel or dry-erase board.

a. Then look back at the second paragraph in the article above, which names a few factors that contribute to re-offending. Discuss why these factors coupled with stigma and stereotypes make transitional housing and other supportive services so important.

b. How might your church help decrease stigma?

c. What can your church community do to support people who are trying to get into recovery?

5. Talk with your pastor about exploring the specific needs of your local area and reaching out to those affected by addiction. Meet again to follow up on your interests. Reach out to SPSARV staff or umspsarv.org for assistance if needed.

6. Close in prayer.

You can learn more about substance abuse at umspsarv.org, through a SPSARV-sponsored training, and through other websites such as samhsa.gov, aa.org, and al-anon.alateen.org. Consider expanding this discussion with people from other local churches or begin setting up a ministry to support you own local treatment facility.

The monthly "Speak About It!" SPSARV podcast series offers an opportunity to hear the voices of the many ministries throughout The United Methodist Church where people are working to create healing from substance abuse and addiction. The SPSARV office offers hope and healing for all people, families, and churches that are living with diseases of addiction.