'Come if you want understanding of how our merciful God can love us even when we cannot love one another.' – David Gordon
A significant format change is planned for the 2013 Summer School on Chemical Dependency.
Dates will be June 16-22. The school will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday and conclude at noon Saturday in Oklahoma City.
This shorter, one-week program is a change from the previous 12-day schedule.
Ed Cook of Tuttle said planners believe the new format will assist with attendance. Rev. Cook said clergy especially will benefit, because the school will not include a Sunday morning session.
During the school, classes will begin at 8 a.m. and run until about 10 p.m. Participants may choose lodging at Oklahoma City University, in Methodist Hall. Those who live nearby may commute from home, although Cook noted the daily schedule is a lengthy one.
Meals will be furnished for all.
Participants continue to affirm the value of the school, first offered more than 30 years ago.
Two of them shared their experiences, excerpted for this story.
Pat Meyer of Weatherford wrote:
"I was new to addiction ministry. I had no painful past; I did, however, know something about the physical and emotional toll of addictive chemicals. As an emergency and critical-care nurse, I had cared for addicts at physically perilous points in their addiction.
"As a nurse and educator, I was a perpetual student. Not only did I attend continuing education courses, but I had worked my way through a master’s and a Ph.D. program. I wasn’t sure what I would gain from Summer School, but I was eager to see.
"Even for someone with a doctoral degree, the classes were full of new knowledge from a new perspective, keeping me engaged and wanting more.
"The 12-step meetings we attended really affected me. Those meetings with addicts in all stages of recovery brought all the theory and emotion into a clearer understanding and commitment to minister to addicts and their families.
"I began to understand that the daily work of recovery takes courage and faith. The recovering addict is not a weak person but a brave soul, who recognizes he/she needs God, because he/she cannot recover without God’s help.
"Summer School changed my life. It changed a ministry I thought I might be able to help with, occasionally, into a lifelong commitment."
David Gordon, pastor at Broken Bow/Eagletown, attended Summer School in 2011.
Rev. Gordon wrote, "The intent of the course is to equip and empower those attending to return to their local communities with the message of hope and healing.
"Personally, I have been in recovery for 22 years, so much of what was presented I was very familiar with, especially 12-step programs. However, the materials that I received regarding community support for recovery ministries and the newer counseling concepts were quite valuable.
"My hope was to find ways to encourage and support local congregations to understand the disease of addiction as something other than a moral failure that can be cured through willpower and repentance. I also wanted resources that would help me show addiction touches more families within our communities than most of us are willing to admit.
"The school provided the resources that I was looking for, in a superior way. I was able to return home and begin a 12-step program in the community.
"To peel the onion of community awareness can be frightening. To enter into the ministry of addiction ministry is a brave journey and not one for the faint of heart.
"But when blessed to see a life reclaimed from the prison of addiction, set free from self-loathing and despair, released to good purpose and happiness, the reward is great."
Meyer urged, "Come to Summer School if you want a glimpse into the lives and souls of some of God’s lost and miserable. Come if you want understanding of how our merciful God can love us even when we cannot love one another.
"Come to experience the richness of loving the unloved, and to gain the skills and courage to support them as they struggle with accepting that love."
The Summer School is taught by licensed professionals and sponsored by the Conference’s Addiction Ministries.
Register online at www.okumc.org/Addiction_Ministries . Fee: $200. Scholarship inquires: Ed Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org. Total CEUs available: 40 contact hours.