Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Shorter sessions widen reach for addiction program


Two Conference groups—the Commission on Religion & Race (CORR) and Addiction Ministries—combined efforts to present an educational workshop about chemical dependency, held March 5 at OKC-Quayle church. Shown are some of the participants in "Back to God," designed to help groups begin outreach on addiction issues.

In June, a new option will expand access to the comprehensive education gained in the Summer School on Chemical Dependency.

Learning modules are being introduced, to accommodate people unable to attend the traditional 12-day school. Annette Harper, Oklahoma Conference director of Addiction Ministries, recently provided details.

The 2011 Summer School will be held June 19-30 at Oklahoma City University.

That schedule will be subdivided into three shorter sessions. People may choose to attend only Module I this year, and then complete Modules II and III in following years.

A student also may enroll in two of the three modules. Module I is a prerequisite for II and III.

"We’re trying to accommodate everybody’s needs," Harper said. "There are people who just can’t give up 12 days."

The school—and Module I—begin at 6:30 p.m. June 19. On weekdays, "you are there from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.," Harper said.

  • Module I concludes at noon June 22.

  • Module II: from 1 p.m. June 22 to noon June 25.

  • Module III: from 5:30 p.m. June 26 to 4:30 p.m. June 29.

The program is open to both clergy and laity, and classes are in the OCU Meinders School of Business. Housing for participants is available in Oklahoma United Methodist Hall, the newest dorm at OCU. Harper noted another program change this year permits students to stay off-campus.

The Summer School on Chemical Dependency offers clergy and laity an opportunity to understand the addictive mind, the spiritual dynamics of addiction, and the impact chemical dependency has on faith communities.

Harper said one affirmation pervades in past student evaluations: It changed my ministry.

Summer School seeks to address addictive behaviors within congregations, Harper explained, recognizing that the disease of addiction is a spiritual issue.

"Spiritual leaders can be better equipped to offer hope and healing if they recognize the nature of the addictive mind and how it affects us all," she said.

She urged training for laity as well "because the pastor can’t be everywhere, and pastors move."

The school is an in-depth educational program in a safe environment, Harper emphasized, not a therapy group or a simulated treatment center. Curriculum involves lectures, group processing, visits to 12-Step programs, and building a network of resources.

Clergy and mental health professionals earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs). Students who complete the full school earn 80 CEUs; Module I, 20; Modules II and III, 25.

Registration fee is based on credit hours. Early-bird discount ends April 30. A new grant is providing full scholarships for ethnic minority participants. Register online: www.addictionministries.org


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