Addiction and Faith - Recovery Ministry - Transfiguration Lutheran Church - Bloomington, Minnesota

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Addiction and Faith - Recovery Ministry

For Congregations, Clergy, & Care Givers.
The 2018 Addiction & Faith Conference held in Bloomington, MN September, 2018 was designed out of an urgent need for congregations, clergy and care givers to address addiction in every form, including the current opioid problem, that is ravaging our world. ​
This web page is designed as a followup and continuation of the program into 2019 and beyond.
A letter of thanks from the FRLC to Transfiguration
Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy
               “…forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases” Psalm 103:3

Beth Mercer, Church Council President   
Transfiguration Lutheran Church
11000 France Avenue So.    
Bloomington MN 55431

October 1, 2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

   We want to take this opportunity to share our deep gratitude and appreciation for your partnership with us, the members of the Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy (FRLC). Our Fellowship shared in the leadership of the first Addiction and Faith Conference in Bloomington this past weekend.   Over 200 participants, clergy and lay, professionals and folks from the recovery community, came together from across the country to seek ways to address the challenges of addiction, and its impact on our congregations and communities. The Conference unleashed amazing energy and hope for so many; it has filled our group with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency for our mission to support clergy in recovery.  

    None of this would have happened without the vision, leadership, and effort of your pastors, Ed Treat and Arthur Murray.  Thank you for your supporting and upholding them in this work sharing the healing power God brings in the gift of recovery.  Through them, you are sharing the Gospel’s promise of new life and hope. We are blessed to have them as colleagues, friends, and partners in this work.

    Our prayer for you is that Transfiguration Church will continue in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, as your faithful and fearless commitment to those seeking the gift of recovery has shown.  You have truly blessed us.

The Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy

Rev. David Connor, Lakewood, Ohio
Rev. Tom Martin, Kensett, IA
Rev. Dan Gibson, Torrence, CA
Rev. Dorothy Sandahl, Hastings, MN
Rev. Robert Nedbalek, Deer Lodge, MT
Rev. Kenneth Rutherford,  E Wareham, MA
Rev. Roger W. Griffiths, Jr., West Seneca, NY
Seth Rumage, awaiting first call, E WA ID Synod
Rev. Beth Walch, Bismarck ND
Rev. Al Dungan (ret.), Edina, MN
Rev. Gretchen Enoch, Fergus Falls, MN
Rev. Melanie Martin-Dent, Polson, MT

TLC Members Attending the 2018 Addiction & Faith Conference
Standing LtoR: Herb Bolin, Bob Taylor, Louise Olson, Zac Schnedler, Jenn Herron, Arthur Murray, Laura Thelander, Karen Treat, Ed Treat, Patti Weichselbaum, Al Dungan. Seated: Nora Beall, Linda Meyer
Recovery Ministry at Transfiguration Lutheran Church (2001-2018)
Beginnings: In 2001, TLC’s parish nurse, Sue Ann Glusenkamp, initiated the formation of a relationship with Faith Partners. Faith Partners is a non-profit organization that helps congregations support those who struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol.
With training provided by Faith Partners, a TLC team was formed.  Early members of TLC’s Faith Partners Team included Ron Schultz, Gail Kleven, Al Dungan, Connie Anderson, Marian Congdon and Denise Durban. At that time, the issue of addiction and how it affected individuals and families, was not very well understood. TLC utilized a congregational survey to gauge member awareness. Because of the survey results, TLC became much more open to how the disease of addiction affected people and how to become more welcoming to those struggling with this deadly disease.

Pastor Vern and Faith Partners: The TLC team worked in conjunction with the pastor at the time, Vern Christopherson. Pastor Vern relied on the Faith Partners Team as a resource and place of referral for those who were struggling with addiction. This was a successful relationship that helped a good number of people find recovery. The Faith Partners Team also introduced TLC’s annual Addiction Awareness Sunday. One of the highpoints over the years was a dramatization produced by TLC’s resident playwright, Shelley Smith, which shared stories of addiction and recovery from people in our own pews.

When Pastor Vern left, TLC’s commitment of ministering to people in recovery took another step forward. The congregation called Pastor Ed Treat as senior pastor. Pastor Ed at the time of his call to TLC had been in recovery from a drug and alcohol addiction for many years, and clean and sober for over 20 years. Ministry to recovering people was a part of Pastor Ed’s calling since seminary and he brought that commitment and experience with him to TLC.

Pastor Ed and Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy: Since Pastor Ed’s call to TLC, he has continued his commitment to ministering to people in recovery. He has been the Executive Director of a group called the “Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy” (FRLC) for over 20 years. FRLC is an independent volunteer organization that is known and respected throughout the ELCA and is looked upon by bishops as a primary resource for pastors who are struggling with addiction of any kind. FRLC has a weekly call-in 12 Step meeting joined by pastors from all over the country. The FRLC has also historically hosted a week-long spring retreat each year.

After leading this group for 20 years, Pastor Ed shared with FRLC leadership (Board of Directors) two years ago that he believed that there are many more Lutherans than just clergy who could benefit from this fellowship and support in recovery. With the approval of that board, the FRLC retreat of 2017 had a specific focus, to explore in consultation with experts in the field, the viability of a 2018 retreat that would be open to all who have an interest (in place of the annual retreat that had been limited to clergy).

This exploratory retreat resulted in FRLC leadership giving their blessing to a 2018 retreat that would be broader in scope. This 2018 retreat became known as the Addiction and Faith Conference and took place at the Hilton Doubletree in Bloomington September 28-30, 2018.

TLC and the Current Addiction Crisis
We at Transfiguration Lutheran Church are part of a “Kairos” moment. That is, a moment in which the Holy Spirit of God is moving in a very particular and noticeable way. The crisis of addiction in this country has never been worse. The current opioid epidemic is taking record numbers of lives. Internet addiction is rampant. Pornography addictions, food addictions, and gambling addictions ruin the lives and relationships of countless people. Many are looking to the church to help and few are finding much help there. The Addiction and Faith Conference could not have taken place at a more opportune time as its primary focus is to better equip pastors, lay leaders, counselors, and congregations to do this vital work.

When the leadership team of FRLC gave the green light to this project, no one knew how quickly it would grow. We were all surprised. The conference filled to capacity with 200 people in attendance from around the country. In addition to attendees, God brought together an amazing team of conference organizers, all volunteering their time. No one was paid for this project, including Pastor Ed, with the exception of the keynote speakers.

None of this would have been possible without Transfiguration Lutheran Church’s strong commitment to recovery ministry dating back many, many years. This congregation has consistently made choices to open their doors and hearts to all who hurt, all who suffer, all who need healing. It is because of this open heartedness and willingness to be active disciples of Jesus Christ that the first Faith Partners Team was formed all those years ago, that Pastor Ed was called as senior pastor, and that more recently TLC’s Church Council voted on the request of TLC’s Addiction Awareness Team (formerly the Faith Partners Team) to support this conference by sponsoring five scholarships to enable more people to attend and receive training in ministering to addicts of every kind.

What might be the future for Recovery Ministry at TLC?
The FRLC, TLC and the Addiction and Faith Conference: Expanding a new ministry like this conference requires great labor, great faith and great sacrifice, first on the part of the leadership, but also by all those who are in relationship with them. Pertinent questions at this time include: Where does the FRLC and the Addiction and Faith Conference go from here? Will it become an ongoing ministry? Will the expanded conference become an annual event? Is God’s Spirit continuing to call TLC into ministry with people in recovery?  What does this look like for TLC and the current division of pastoral needs and responsibilities?  These questions remain to be answered. What we can be sure of is that God is doing a new thing. It is a needed thing. But is it something that the TLC community is being called to be involved with? And, if so, how?

Next Steps
A leadership team made up of the council president, the strategic planning chair, a member of our mission and outreach team and our three rostered leaders has been meeting and working with an outside consultant since July of this year. This team is called the Pastoral Leadership Team and is integrated into the overall Strategic Plan under the key area of Leadership Development.
The Pastoral Leadership Team began meeting in July of 2018 with a mandate to explore the following questions which were first presented at TLC’s Annual Meeting in January 2018:
  1. How can we ensure that the combined pastoral leadership of TLC best serve the mission of the congregation?
  2. How can the pastors’ responsibilities best be divided in order to make the most effective use of the skills, interests and passions of each?

A specific, urgent question emerged as the Addiction and Faith Conference neared:

    • Given the unexpected and significant blossoming of this new ministry, how might Pastor Ed’s responsibilities as convener of Addiction and Faith and facilitator of the FRLC impact his role as senior pastor at TLC? In which ways are these multiple responsibilities and callings compatible, complementary and/or competing?

At this time, we are asking all TLC members to keep the questions outlined above in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray for the Pastoral Leadership Team as we seek to discern God’s voice and follow God’s will. The team will make recommendations to the Church Council and the congregation. If you are interested in deeper conversation on this topic, please contact one of us. We invite your input, questions and ideas.

With hope and faith in a God who desires healing and wholeness,

The Pastoral Leadership Team
  • John Lindell, Pastoral Leadership Team Chair, member of Mission and Outreach Team,
  • Beth Mercer, Council President,
  • Jeanine Brown, Strategic Planning Chair,
  • Deacon Renee Jefferson, Director of Education,
  • Pastor Ed Treat, Senior Pastor,
  • Pastor Arthur Murray, Associate Pastor,

Outside Resources

Mark Betley, consultant
Synod representative, TBD
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