Celebrate Recovery is a newer 12-step approach, established in 1991, that recognizes Jesus Christ as the “higher power” needed for recovery. It links its 12 steps with the beatitudes taught by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.
The program founder was John Baker, who is affiliated with Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life.”
First Christian Church in Carrollton started its Celebrate Recovery program June 1. Meetings are held every Friday from 6:30 to 9:15 p.m. The coordinators are Billy and Cyndi Ressler. Attendees can start in the program at any time.
“It will be held every Friday, no matter what date Friday falls on,” Cyndi Ressler said. “Our hurts and hangups don’t go away just because it’s a holiday.”
She said Celebrate Recovery is changing lives everyday, with meetings being held in thousands of locations around the world.
“Our program is for any hurt, habit or hangup,” said Ressler. “It deals with those things that stop us from having healthy relationships, with each other, as well as our savior, including anger, depression, divorce, alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, co-dependency, sexual addiction and pornography.”
She said everything discussed in the meetings is confidential. Anybody is free to attend the program and many who come are court mandated.
“The courts recognize that Celebrate Recovery is a good place to start,” Ressler said.
She said the Friday meeting starts with a 6:30 p.m. dinner.
“Then we go to a 7:15 p.m. worship time,” she said. “From there, we go to either a lesson or testimony, it varies from week to week.”
About 8:15 p.m., the meeting breaks into gender specific groups, where people give their testimony, she said. This continues until around 9:15 p.m.
“After that, we have a time of fellowship with coffee and cookies,” she said. “We hang out and talk some more. We’re there until the last person leaves.”
She said free childcare is provided for children ages 5-13.
Ressler said she and her husband, Billy, are both recovering people.
“Billy has been a recovering drug addict for 25 years and has struggled with alcohol,” she said. “I am co-dependent and have multiple abuse issues. We’re both at the point to wanting to reach out and help others. We want to let people know there is a way out and we don’t have to live with our hangups and hurts. We’re both believers in Jesus Christ.”
Ressler said Celebrate Recovery will do the following things:
• provide a safe place to share your experiences, victories and hopes with others going through a Christ-centered recovery;
• provide you with a leader who has gone through a similar hurt, hangup or habit and who will facilitate the group as it focuses on a particular principal each week;
• provide you with the opportunity to find an accountability partner or sponsor;
• and encourage you to attend other recovery meetings held throughout the week.
Ressler said Celebrate Recovery will not:
• attempt to offer any professional clinical advice, since Celebrate Recovery leaders are not counselors;
• or allow its members to attempt to “fix” one another.
She said Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to share, a refuge, a place of belonging, a place to care for others and be cared for, a place where respect is given to each member, a place where confidentiality is highly regarded, a place where you can take off your mask, a place for healthy challenges and healthy risks and a possible turning point in your life.
She said Celebrate Recovery is not a place for selfish control, a place for therapy, a place for secrets, a place to look for dating relationships, a place to rescue or be rescued by others, a place for perfection, a place to judge others or a quick fix.
Celebrate Recovery was started in 1991 at Saddlebrook Church, when the church was meeting in a gymnasium. John Baker wrote “Pastor Rick” Warren a now-famous 13-page, single-spaced letter, outlining Baker’s vision that he said God had given him for Celebrate Recovery. After reading the letter, Warren said, “Great, John, go do it.”
The program began with only four Open Share groups, for men’s and women’s chemical dependency, and men’s and women’s co-dependency, but has grown to 14 groups today. More than 8,500 people have gone through the program at Saddlebrook Church.
Since then, the program has not only grown in churches, but in recovery houses, rescue mission and prisons around the world.
New Mexico became the first state to adopt Celebrate Recovery into its state prison system. In August, 2004, California announced that Celebrate Recovery was a state approved program for its prisons.
“By working the Christ-centered steps and applying their biblical principles, found in the Beatitudes, we begin to grow spiritually,” Ressler said. “We become free from our addictive, compulsive and dysfunctional behaviors. This freedom creates peace, serenity, joy, and most importantly, a stronger personal relationship with God and others. As we progress through the principles and the steps, we discover our personal, loving and forgiving Higher Power, Jesus Christ.”
Additional information about Celebrate Recovery can be found at the church website, www.1stchristianchurch.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church phone number is 770-832-3974.
Information about the national Celebrate Recovery program is available at www.celebraterecovery.com.