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Celebrate Recovery invites community to 6th anniversary event

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Celebrate Recovery Clanton will commemorate its 6th anniversary on Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Clanton First United Methodist Church.

Festivities will begin with a meal at 5:30 p.m. and follow a similar format to a Celebrate Recovery meeting.

The celebration is free and open to the public.

The event will feature Retired U.S. Air Force Col. John W. Pearse, now the pastor of Journey Baptist Church, as the guest speaker.

Pearse is one of the leaders of the Celebrate Recovery program at Journey Church and is the Central Alabama director for Celebrate Recovery Inside in regional jails.

“I am really excited about our guest speaker,” Jada Hilyer, Celebrate Recovery co-ministry leader, said. “I think it is going to be something a little different this year.”

Lawrence Bamberg, Celebrate Recovery Clanton co-ministry leader, said he met Pearse at a meeting in Wetumpka.

After dinner, ministry leaders will recognize the volunteers that have made the program possible in the previous year, followed by a greeting from Wes Kelley, co-pastor of Clanton First United Methodist Church.

Music, games and giveaways will also be a part of the celebration before Pearse speaks.

Childcare will be available for children ages 3-12.

The celebration is a good opportunity for someone who might be interested in attending to see what the program is all about.

“Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12-step program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind,” according to the Celebrate Recovery Clanton brochure.

It strives to create a confidential, safe setting “to find community and freedom.”

Hilyer said she is excited to be able to hold the anniversary celebration this year after it was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said in addition to the anniversary, it is “celebrating our success that we have really been able to endure through that.”

The program had to cancel meetings from late-March to mid-August in 2020.

“We started back meeting outside,” Bamberg said.

Kelley said the ministry leaders “were incredible to do all that they did” to have the program meeting again.

“This is so much more than a drug and alcohol program,” Bamberg said.

He said the program is broad enough to help anyone with what they are struggling with. Celebrate Recovery Clanton has had members working through a number of things, ranging from addiction to grief over the loss of a loved one.

“We are not professional counselors, but what we do is we allow people in our small groups to share, and we provide encouragement to those individuals,” Bamberg said.

Bamberg said only about a third of Celebrate Recovery attendees worldwide are dealing with addiction.

“I love Celebrate Recovery because it is 100% volunteer led, and so many people get involved in CR to help out and then they realize they get so much out of the program itself,” Kelley said. “Celebrate Recovery just reflects our church’s heart for the whole community being in recovery. We all need to be in recovery. Every one of our believers that is in our church is in a sense in recovery, so this is just a way that we want to show God’s heart for helping us all heal.”

Celebrate Recovery meets at 6:30 p.m. every Monday at FUMC with a large group service and then small groups.

The small groups are divided by gender and whether the person is dealing with addiction or life issues.

The program follows a set curriculum, however, Hilyer said it is not just about going through the 12 steps but about continuing to grow and have a group to hold one accountable.