Got a problem? You’re not alone.
That’s the central message of Celebrate Recovery, a program of support and compassion that started at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif. and has spread to more than 20,000 churches worldwide (there are some 15 groups in B.C. alone).
The Semiahmoo Peninsula’s program group – founded in 2010 by Meri Dai Edwards and her husband, Ed – is thriving at South Surrey’s Peace Portal Alliance with regular Monday night drop-in meetings starting at 6:30 p.m.
A mark of that success is that, on Saturday, June 22, the group will host the first Western Canada conference and one-day seminar, together with Peace Portal Alliance, at 15128 27 B Ave.
“There are hundreds of people registered already,” said Edwards. “They’re coming from all over the west – including Washington, Montana, California and Manitoba.”
The event will include advanced leadership training from program founder John Baker, and, for new groups, an overview of the program from his wife, Cheryl.
Also attending and offering advice will be Celebrate Recovery’s Western Canada Director, Glen Hood.
One of the key elements of the program – which follows the 12-step recovery model – is its universality, added Edwards, daughter of popular traditional jazz musician and bandleader Rice Honeywell Sr. and the late Helen Honeywell.
“Everyone’s got something they’re dealing with,” she said, noting Celebrate Recovery’s core aim: ‘Freedom from hurts, habits and hang-ups.’
“We’re not afraid to say it’s a Christ-centered program, based on the Beatitudes,” she said.
Just as the Beatitudes (which appear as eight “blessings” in the account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew) emphasize mercy, love and humility, Celebrate Recovery accepts – in, realistic, non-judgmental terms – that we are all succeptable to addictive, compulsive and dysfunctional behaviours.
“We do not fix people; we’re not counsellors,” Edwards said of the small groups in which individuals can share the nitty-gritty aspects of their ongoing struggles.
“We do not have ‘cross’ talk. It’s open to any faith – we do not proselytize at all.”
Recognizing that the sharing of hurts, habits and hang-ups can venture into some deeply personal areas, Edwards notes that one of the principles of Celebrate Recovery is that it offers a safe and supportive environment.
About the only real rule, she said, is that there is no “offensive” talk.
“When you’re angry, the expletives can often come out, and we meet that with a certain amount of grace, of course,” she said.
“But the guideline is that there is no offensive language.”
Most of those who conduct Celebrate Recovery programs, have their own history of struggles, Edwards said.
They’re not all obvious issues, such as alcoholism, or substance abuse, or even the current, exponentially increasing problems of internet addiction and sexual addiction.
In Edwards’ own case, she had grief issues following the death of her mother in 2000, issues over her feelings of subservience to others’ needs and spiralling family conflicts that led her and Ed to move to the West Coast from their native Ontario for “a fresh start” in 2006.
Those who participate in the program take personal responsibility for their steps toward recovery, she said, but the support and listening of others cannot be underestimated.
“When I was sharing with the small group, I was never interrupted,” she said. “I was able to process what I needed to process, able to handle my grief. No one was trying to fix me.”
For registration and information on the one-day seminar, visit celebraterecovery.com
For information on the regular Monday night drop-ins, contact Edwards at email@example.com or Eileen at 604-538-2426.