The Reverend Don Burket, pastor since June, says of the Faith Partners ministry, “I learned about this ministry from the committee who met with me before I came to serve these two churches. It is a unique and awesome ministry and I look forward to seeing it go beyond our churches.”
Rev. Burket serves two small United Methodist churches, Grace and Faith, which form the West Davenport Alliance in Davenport IA. Grace averages 100-125 in worship weekly and Faith 30-50. Working together they began to address alcohol and drug issues after receiving funding for a project from the Iowa United Methodist Annual Conference in January 2006. At about the same time they learned of the Faith Partners approach through a colleague who attended the Rush Center Summit in Texas. In August 2006 several members from the Alliance team traveled to Lincoln NE to attend the Faith Partners team training.
The Founding Pastor
The Reverend Doug Reynolds, pastor of the West Davenport Alliance when the Faith Partners ministry was initiated, says, “Addiction is an epidemic health problem in America. One in ten people suffer from alcoholism alone. But the odds are 50-50 that you or someone significant to you is a ‘holic of one kind or another. At the core of the problem for all ‘holics who struggle with addictive or compulsive behavior is a pattern of continually misusing something or someone in order to avoid emotional pain and difficulties.” Doug continues, “Alcoholism is just one of many addictions. Chemical dependency, eating disorders, co-dependency, and other obsessive and compulsive behavior patterns are equally as ‘serious and destructive.’”
Mission and Vision
The mission of the West Davenport Alliance Faith Partners ministry is to provide support through education, intervention, and recovery to those afflicted or affected by addiction. Their vision is to first reach out effectively to the alliance churches, then to the greater Quad Cities church communities. They are starting with United Methodist churches and then want to expand to other faith traditions through Churches United, an organization that serves “Quad Cities” (Davenport IA, Bettendorf IA, Moline IL, and Rock Island IL.)
Mike Salter, team facilitator, says, “We want to promote the idea that churches can be places of healing and hope. By working with the community resources the Faith Partners team does not need to offer treatment but can offer support through education, intervention and recovery.” He and his wife, Willo, are very active church members. They are also good at getting others involved. A goal is to continue to recruit people from the congregation to participate in specific projects, thus extending the reach of the ministry.
Making the Congregation Safe through Personal Testimonies
Marti Crane, the newest team member, says the positive congregational response keeps her involved and committed, “We have many members in recovery and several have given their testimony in worship. I personally shared how AlAnon had been a life saver for me after growing up with an alcoholic father. I had no idea how much alcoholism was continuing to affect my life until AlAnon”. Marti says there is more openness to this issue in the congregation because of the team activities and testimonies.
Trained Team Members create new Projects
Nancy DeHaven became a team member because she accidentally signed the wrong clipboard. She stayed because she saw the potential for this ministry. “I went with others to the team training and the light bulb went on. We got it. We came back and told the pastor we lay people are on fire and ready to carry the ministry.”
The team influenced the church to offer the effective LOGOS after school program not just to member’s children but also to children in need in the community. Here the children experience several hours weekly with caring adults who eat, play, study and sing with them. Nancy tells about two other ministries that originated out of the Faith Partners team ministry.
Youth in Need of Justice
One such ministry is called the “Youth in Need of Justice Ministry.” Willo Salter provides leadership for this effort. Team members decided to have a “presence” at a large skate park in Davenport. They started by giving away bottles of water at the park and just “hanging out” with the kids. When the kids called them the purple shirt people the adults embroidered PSP on their purple shirts.
Trusting relationships between church members and the young people have grown because of this presence. When the youth realized the adults did not have an agenda other than to get to know them and be with them they opened up and began having conversations, even asking the adults to pray for them. This relationship has led to a powerful alliance between the PSP adults and the youth. They have gone together to the local alderman and city council to ask for restrooms, lighting so they can skate at night, and refreshment stands. Early signs of graffiti were converted to murals. This caring supervision has been so successful other churches now want to participate.
Team members are preparing to carry prevention messages through a new puppet ministry. The stage and six puppets will be used initially for a presentation on peer pressure. Members say that the adults as well as youth and children are excited about this project.
Importance of Capturing Team History and Activities
Nancy and Marti Crane gathered pictures, articles, and stories of their team activities. They made a three ring notebook, capturing their history.
Mike Salter, the team facilitator, said putting together the notebook rejuvenated the team. They were amazed at all they had done which included:
- Wrote a grant proposal and received funding from the annual conference;
- Conducted a congregational survey and shared the results;
- Asked community mental health specialists to speak to team/congregation;
- Developed a mission statement, brochure and a call referral list;
- Created nametags, banners, Sunday video clips, monthly newspaper articles;
- Gave several personal testimonies during worship and team was dedicated;
- Press release to community with follow up newspaper article;
- Worked with youth at a large skate park;
- Started a women in recovery Bible study; and,
- Writing to prisoners and preparing to support them upon release.
This compilation of activities both renewed the team and sustained them as they began to plan for the next year. Congratulations to the West Davenport Alliance Faith Partners team!