I know you can hardly see it, but trust me – it’s there. Somehow this one rogue azalea branch avoided the sharp cut of the hedge trimmers! She’s rebounded and reemerged after a harsh “haircut” and I can see her from the window reaching and stretching to soak in the sunlight. When I first noticed her, standing at the sink in the kitchen, I remarked to myself that I would have to fetch the hedge clippers to cut her off. Then, as I gazed out the window for a moment longer, I sensed there was perhaps something greater at work here. Maybe she could stay and grow and be seen and blossom? Maybe she has something to say…???

The past couple of weeks have been hard for me. I have felt sad, confused and conflicted but am also clear that a new season is upon me both in my professional and personal life. I’m growing rouge myself. And as Hope Recovery Church approaches her two-year birthday, she’s continuing to blossom.

Over the past months in my own congregation, I’ve seen an “us” verses “them” mentality of judgement, a hard line of division, and separation among people who are bond together by the common peril of recovering from addictions of all sorts. It wrenches my heart when I see how RELIGION has become more important than RELATIONSHIPs. It’s painful to watch recovering people suffer separation within the fellowship of all recovering people – one that Hope Recovery promotes for “all A’s” (for us, it doesn’t matter what program you attend – what brings us together is that we are all recovering from something.)

So here we are (here I am) at the precipice of a new season and blossoming brightly. In June, at the North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (who has appointed me and of which Hope Recovery is affiliated), in the Executive Clergy Session, in a historic vote, “approved eight candidates for orientation, including the first-ever candidate in a same-sex marriage.” I joyfully affirm this decision both personally and on behalf of Hope Recovery as its pastor.

Friends, our Bishop, the Rev. Connie Shelton, recently preached about how people come to us broken and that our job is not to fix them but to welcome them with openness, welcome and belonging. At Hope Recovery, we say, “If you say, ‘I belong here,’ then you belong here.” We can’t say this and add BUTS, asterisks *** or disclaimers. ALL means ALL.

This is what I know is true for me – that without my personal recovery in tact, there is no Hope Recovery. As a member of the original 12th Step program and a student of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous,” I turn to the wisdom of the first 100 who recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body and wrote a book to show others precisely how they had recovered. (AA, Big Book pg. ix). They also had the wisdom to discern that they must stay focused on their primary purpose, which is to stay sane (clean and/or sober or whatever words you use to define your own recovery) and help others to achieve recovery. To do this we need to stay out of the weeds and find common ground on which to cultivate good recovery.

At Hope Recovery, our purpose is to host moments where anyone is invited to connect with God and/or one other to experience healing. Our task is to support the many varies processes/flavors and expression of recovery so that we can connect in fellowship that ultimately leads all of us demonstration of love and service in our community.

What we’ve done well over this past year is cultivate a culture and a place where welcome and belonging is felt, seen and heard. Our prayer is that love will continue to organically find a Oneness that sees the humanness of each other and grows through support, friendship and WELCOME. (Differences between us shouldn’t warrant a response of fear or condemnation, but a desire to be curious, open and brave to listen to one another, to learn from each other and to walk together with recovery as our centering goal.)

We joyfully share all Hope Recovery has to offer with friends, fellowships, organizations and our community so that people may see their lives transformed. Though we may NOT all think alike, can we not love alike?

At Hope Recovery if you say, “I belong,” then you belong.

in love and service, Pastor Meg McB

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