Alternative ‘church’ for those recovering

Reverend Ian Meredith of St Mary's Portchester runs weekly recovery group meetings
Reverend Ian Meredith of St Mary's Portchester runs weekly recovery group meetings
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MY name’s Ian, and I’m not an alcoholic – but I do like hanging around with them on a Tuesday evening at St Mary’s Church in Portchester Castle.

Just over a year ago, Tim, a recovering addict and alcoholic began attending our church.

He had found great support and fellowship through groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), CA and other recovery groups. He invited a couple of friends who found St Mary’s to be a welcoming and a safe place to be.

This challenged me to look again at AA’s recovery programme, The Twelve Steps. I had helped facilitate the setting up of an AA group in a former church and had been impressed back then with their approach.

On reading them again I was struck by the similarity between The Steps and ideas in the Bible about living free.

Further research uncovered that their compilers and the founders of AA, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith were committed Christians who had known a deep ‘spiritual experience’ which transformed their lives.

Since then, the Twelve Steps programme has developed to be non-dogmatic and even non-religious, but spiritual, in order to attract as wide as possible a membership who can subscribe to simply ‘God as you understand him.’

However, this does not take away the fact that originally, this ‘higher power’ was believed to be God – God made known in Jesus, although those who took the programme would always have to find God in their own way.

In the past few years many Christians have been rediscovering the Twelve Step programme, and realising that it is not just for recovering alcoholics, but for everyone who wants to ‘live freely.’

So it was that a group of us decided to start a recovery group based on the Twelve Steps – but with a difference – a decidedly Christian approach to the spirituality of the steps.

Our initial group of six has now grown to 15 members with new friends coming each week. It is in fact turning into a little fellowship – and even a ‘church’ for those who may not easily fit into main stream church life.

If this is an area you would like help in, please ring our parish office on (023) 9232 1380 for full details.

ST MARY’S CHURCH, Portchester Castle, Castle Road, PO16 9QW

Main service: Sundays, 10am (including Junior Church)