On Friday nights after the PrayerWorks supper at St. Faith’s Anglican Church in Edmonton, a Christ-centered support group led by Bliss Robinson and Don Halvorson gathers for a time of Christian worship, biblical learning and personal sharing.
Celebrate Recovery is a national, 12-step recovery program based on the principles of the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew. After worshipping together and reading the 8 principles and 12 steps, people divide into small groups for intimate and open sharing.
“We all have stuff that we struggle with,” says Robinson, whose husband attended a Celebrate Recovery program with Halvorson at the Fort Road Victory Church in north Edmonton. She and Halvorson have developed a leadership team to facilitate the St. Faith’s Celebrate Recovery program which also includes an in-depth study of the 12 steps on Monday nights.
“We explore how God uses his word to lead us out of our hurts and bad habits which put a strain on our relationships and cause us to struggle,” she says. “People often come here looking for answers and find all the answers they need are in Jesus. It makes all the difference when we know God loves us.”
The program is for people struggling with anxiety, low self-esteem and co-dependency, broken relationships, you name it, says Halvorson who recovered from his addiction to internet pornography seven years ago with the help of Celebrate Recovery.
“When you have any kind of addiction you believe you’re not going to be accepted. That you’re going to be judged, even ridiculed,” he says. “To be heard by others is extremely powerful, as is hearing that you’re not alone, that there are others with the same struggles. Christ is with us all.”
“I find so much of what is said by others in an open share group applies to me, too, in one way or another,” says Robinson. “We are all much more alike than we are different. I see people relating all around the circle. The Lord helps us sort our troubles as we think out loud, and we also gain understanding and clarity by listening to other people.”
Throughout the pandemic and winter months, the average attendance at Celebrate Recovery gatherings has held steady at between 15 and 20 people on Friday nights. This, Halvorson says, “really speaks to the times we’re in, especially when you consider that many folks rely on public transportation to get here.”
“People know that help is here at St. Faith’s,” adds Robinson who came to know the community well over the past few years as a volunteer with the PrayerWorks ministry. “We move among the people who come for community meals,” and St. Faith’s regularly highlights Celebrate Recovery in its church bulletins displaying information both at the back of the church and on the tables in PrayerWorks Hall.
The St. Faith's group has welcomed people from Fort Road Victory Church, as well as the Beulah Alliance program. In all, there are about 11 Celebrate Recovery groups in Alberta.
Robinson and Halvorson would like more people to know there is support available to them at St. Faith’s. Part of their focus is on extending their community outreach. While there is a core leadership group of eight people, Halvorson says, “we hope to connect with Indigenous elders and invite them to attend and be part of the leadership group.”
We encourage everyone to contribute, says Robinson. “The Lord wants us all to encourage and serve each other.”