Celebrate Recovery is 12-step program centered on Christ

  • Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, May 31, 2009 9:06 p.m.

The Celebrate Recovery ministry is celebrating six years of helping people with addiction and substance abuse issues find their way back to peace through Christ, according to ministry directors Ray and Claire Levesque.Celebrate Recovery, the nation's only Christ-centered 12-step program, was founded in 1993 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., home parish of "The Purpose-Driven Life" author Rick Warren, and was adopted at Cedar Creek Church in 2004. The program meets from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and has a dinner, a worship service and several small-group meetings beginning at 6 p.m. Fridays at Cedar Creek."Eric DeBeaugrine started the program here, and we got involved in 2004. We had been running the Celebrate Recovery youth group called Life Hurts, God Heals, for middle and high school students," said Ray. "This is the only Christ-centered 12-step program in the country. There are a lot of lay programs like AA, but we use the same 12 steps, only with Christ as the higher power. Anonymity and confidentiality are absolutely essential to the program, and we remind people of that every week.""We do suggest people come for at least six or seven meetings," said Claire. "If they feel it's not for them after that, they're free to come and go as they please, but because every meeting is different with different people sharing their stories, six weeks is a good chance to see if something makes a connection with them."Meetings average about 60 people a week, according to Ray, usually a mix of long-term members and newcomers. They have a core group of about 26 members who serve as small group leaders. Typically a Tuesday night meeting will start with a short prayer session then break into small groups; there are groups for men on chemical dependency, sex addiction, A-to-Z for multiple addiction issues and the 12-step group, and groups for women on chemical dependency, codependency, A-to-Z and 12-step. The groups use Celebrate Recovery guidebooks which provide discussion topics for each meeting, mixed in with open discussion sessions, the couple said."The model we use is 'You Are Not Alone,'" Ray said. "One of the big things with addiction is the feeling you're the only one going through it. When we're discussing addictions and you realize other people are struggling with the same kinds of issues, it makes it easier."Friday night begins with dinner from 6 to 6:30 p.m., a worship service from 7 to 8 p.m., Life Hurts God Heals from 7 to 9 p.m., Newcomers 101 and other small-group meetings from 8 to 9 p.m., and the Holy Grounds Cafe for socializing from 9 to 9:30 p.m. The program is open to anyone, whether unchurched or Christian, and whether a Cedar Creek member or not, the Levesques emphasized. There are no dues or fees for the support group, just the occasional passing of the basket for voluntary donations."We hope people will come away from the meetings with sobriety, serenity and a new way of life," Ray said. "We absolutely have seen it happen.""It's the greatest miracle to see when it does," Claire added.More information about Celebrate Recovery and meeting schedules are available online at www.cedarcreekchurch.net in the site's Ministries section, or call 599-1503 for meeting information.Contact Suzanne Stone at sstone@aikenstandard.com.

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