“When God moves, it seems best to follow.” That is the conclusion we have come to here at Liberty UMC in the Corbin District. And that is why we are starting a Celebrate Recovery ministry this year.
Pastor Bruce Hiner was appointed here in July 2011.
“When I started talking to people in Casey County, drug abuse was always listed as the biggest problem we have here,” said Rev. Hiner. “It seemed clear to me that if drug dependency is such an overwhelming issue, then we as the Church ought to be involved in doing something positive about it. I mentioned to a few people that I had heard of a program that might be helpful called Celebrate Recovery, and the results were amazing.”
By September, Pastor Hiner and a couple of other interested people had visited Russell Springs UMC, about 25 miles away. Under the leadership of Senior Pastor Jim Kingry and Associate Pastor Dennis Price, Russell Springs has been offering Celebrate Recovery for over 10 years, with scores of people finding freedom from all kinds of “hurts, hang-ups and habits” that prevented them from living healthy lives. Jim and Dennis were very helpful in sharing ideas and resources, so that the leaders from Liberty could have enough firsthand information to decide if Celebrate Recovery was a possibility for them.
“That was when God started moving in a powerful, visible way,” said Pastor Hiner.
After mentioning the idea to just a few people, several members of the church stepped forward to become the leadership team for this new ministry, without really even being asked. There was a lot of passion about helping people find the freedom that Celebrate Recovery seemed to offer.
In addition, money started becoming available to fund the ministry. In a church that has struggled financially for several years, this was an incredible blessing. The highlight of this phenomenon was when the church was awarded a grant of $1,600 from the United Methodist Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV), a ministry of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. This grant has made it possible to purchase all of the things the church needs to get started.
“In combination with private donations and the commitment of the congregation, we believe the ministry can sustain itself for the foreseeable future,” Rev. Hiner said.
The leadership team has been going through the program together since January, and will continue as a small group even after the ministry is opened to our community. According to Rev. Hiner, “We all have hurts, hang-ups or habits that Celebrate Recovery will help with, and we want to have gone through the experience we hope to guide others through.”
The community is invited to take part in this ministry beginning April 15, the Sunday after Easter.
“We are excited, and I am also a bit scared,” said Rev. Hiner. “The way God has brought all this together tells me the need is even greater than I imagine, and I feel like I am in way over my head. I keep reminding myself that is when God does his best stuff.”