Our ministry with the recovery community began in 2002 at the Watertown site, and this is what it looks like today:
Opening building to the groups
24 weekly and 4 monthly 12-step meetings with close to 1,000 people per week who are seeking to stay clean and sober. Right Turn, an addiction and recovery program for musicians and artists, rents a house we own for sober housing. Our building is home to group anniversaries and 24-hour Alka-Thons on holidays.
Interaction between “upstairs” and “downstairs”
One of the growing edges for us has been and continues to be the appropriate ways for members of the congregation to be part of this ministry, given the preeminent value of anonymity and the obviously confidential nature of many of pastoral interactions with group members.
This experiment has gone well so far and includes:
a. Attending the annual anniversary of the Watertown Men’s Group of NA. There are over 600 individuals who attend this celebration, and it is open to addicts and non-addicts alike. The first year Mike was asked to welcome the participants (as he has been each year since), there was one member of our congregation present. In recent years, as many as 20 people from BWUMC have been present at this event.
b. Offering hot cider and snacks during the week before Christmas. This began 10 years ago as a simple way to offer hospitality and let people know we were glad they were in our building. Group members have been incredibly appreciative of this simple gesture, and have come to look forward to this week-long event. Dozens of church members have volunteered over the years.
c. Consecration Sunday luncheon. For a number of years, our stewardship Sunday luncheon has been catered by members from the Watertown Men’s Group.
d. Open meetings. Most of the various fellowships of the recovery movement (Alcoholics, Narcotics, Gamblers, etc.) hold open meetings on a regular basis so that non-addicts who want to understand addiction can be present in ways that are appropriate. We have helped people to find such meetings.
e. Right Turn concerts. We have taken as many as 10 church members at a time to these events to enjoy music and comedy while supporting folks in recovery.
f. 11th Step Café. In 2014, we organized the first ever small group study involving both members of the recovery community and members of our congregation. Eight members of BWUMC joined 3 members of Narcotics Anonymous to break bread together, study Anne Lamott’s “Help, Thanks, Wow” and pray for one another. We are now in the midst of our 3rd year with 6 church members, 3 individuals in recovery, and 2 church members who are also in recovery.
Rev. Mike Clark is the Recovery Outreach worker of BWUMC. In this role, he works as an ally to those in recovery, connecting with members at the 24 12-step meetings that take place each week.
For the last 15 years, he has offered pastoral counseling and spiritual direction to recovering addicts, he has preached and spoken at workshops around New England and has led retreats for addicts and non- addicts alike, including a half dozen at the Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover. He strives to be a resource to United Methodist Churches in the annual conference as convener of the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Team (APART).
Earlier in his career his time was spent in peace and justice ministry, and worked with the late William Sloane Coffin, Jr. During and following the contra war in Nicaragua, Mike worked on the staff of Witness for Peace, including three years as Executive Director of their program in the US and Central America.
Mike lives in Watertown with his wife, Rev. Christine Elliot, and their cat Chiquita.
Contact Rev. Mike Clark at 617-926-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org