First Regional Oklahoma Faith-Based and Community Partners Conference -- August 5-6, 2004
On August 5th and 6th, 2004, over 100 people from both the faith-based community and drug rehabilitation field, including 20 churches and 25 drug rehab groups from 21 different cities and towns, gathered at the lovely new Reed Conference Center in Oklahoma City for a two-day conference on substance abuse. The conference was co-hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and Narconon International, along with Oklahoma's Narconon Arrowhead drug rehabilitation and training center.
Speakers from around the country conducted workshop and plenary sessions, sharing their knowledge of substance abuse treatment and prevention, coalition building, grant writing, drug-free withdrawal techniques, and other topics.
Clark Carr, Master of Ceremonies opens conference
The theme of the conference, "Faith communities partnering with rehabilitation professionals to save lives," was certainly achieved as many church members and rehab professionals decided to join together to deliver new services and learn and apply new skills for their congregations and communities.
In introductory remarks, Clark Carr, President of Narconon International, stated:
"Why is Narconon here to greet you at a faith-based and community partners initiative conference on drug rehabilitation? First, we are a community partner... someone who works to bring the faith community and professionals in the treatment and prevention community together. Why are we here in Oklahoma City? Here are just some of the statistics necessitating it: 2 out of 3 adults arrested in Oklahoma City tested positive for drug use, according to a 2003 Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse Report. Also, methamphetamine labs are being busted statewide at an alarming rate. In other words, we have work to do.
"Whether or not any of the people above are in your congregation or in your program, let me suggest--they are within your reach. You could help them if you knew more about the subject, if you knew more about each other. And that is our final purpose here--to help introduce you to each other."
~~ Clark Carr - President, Narconon International
Clifton Mitchell, Coordinator, SAMHSA
Faith-Based and Community Partners Initiative
Clifton Mitchell the Coordinator of SAMHSA's Faith-Based and Community Partners Initiative, spoke both days of the conference, encouraging church members to work with rehab professionals and to apply for grants from the government:
"We have a fight on our hands. We have a war going on in our own communities. I mean a real war, a mean war. Unless we become more pro-active, we are going to lose this war.
"Our young people, our future leaders are being caught up in this. We have grandmothers taking care of their grandkids because the parents are on drugs or in jail. The way the economy is now, you can't sit back. You have to form coalitions, become more political. There are organizations that have gotten substantial dollars, providing services--housing, transportation, food services. It is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.... It is your tax money. And all the President of the United States is saying to you is, 'We want you to come to this table because we need you. The government can't do it on its own. We need your help."
~~ Clifton Mitchell - Coordinator,
SAMHSA Faith-Based and Community Partners Initiative
Allow us to share some of the knowledge and experience gained by the attendees, with a few excerpts from speakers' presentations and workshops.
Kyle McGraw, Director of Substance Abuse Services
Oklahoma Dept of Human Services
"Some years back when I ran my own treatment program, I realized that many pastors, perhaps through unfamiliarity or ignorance, did not really know what treatment was. If I could leave you with one nugget to take home with you, it would be 'Get to know the treatment provider in your community.' Sit down with them over a cup of coffee. Invite them into your church study. Some you may like. Some you may not. But some you will find fit with your belief and faith."
~~ Kyle McGraw
Director of Substance Abuse Services
Brad Yarbrough, Director of the Oklahoma Office
of Faith-Based and Community Initiative
Church and State Working Together to Improve Communities and Families
Brad Yarbrough along with his colleague, Russ Urquhart, gave a workshop with the purpose to lay the legal, political and practical foundations for the private sector to be able to work together with government:
"The burden of responding to social need for decades and even centuries has been borne by the faith community. Government in the history of man has been a relative newcomer in providing social services, and we welcome its participation... Some problems are too broad or complex for one church or faith to put their arms around. What is necessary today is for both groups--government and faith--to co-labor to address this problem of alcohol and other drug addiction."
"The government is asking, 'Help us fulfill and satisfy a secular problem we have in society.' As long as you are willing to help us satisfy and address this secular concern--homelessness, poverty, drug addiction--you are welcome to compete for federal funds. Just give us the best proposal to show that you have the qualifications to solve this problem. The funds just cannot be used for inherently religious activity."
~~ Brad Yarbrough
Director of the Oklahoma Office
of Faith-Based and Community Initiative
William E. Link, Ph.D.,
renowned national lecturer on grantwriting
The grant writing workshop (4 sessions) delivered by William E. Link was very popular. One attendee was amazed to learn how government welcomes prevention programs.
"I've been working for the last 10 years on the Community Building Initiative and I am completely passionately sure that if we don't do something about substance abuse, we can't rebuild communities. You cannot rebuild a community when the residents of a community are poisoned.... Until we do something about this issue, the kind of things that we have as dreams for the community, I don't think they will happen; so as far as I'm concerned, you guys are on the front line."
~~ William E. Link, Ph.D.
Don Coyhis, President and
Founder of White Bison, Inc.
The Wellbriety Movement--Coming Together Time
Don Coyhis, member of the Mohican Nation, presented White Bison, an organization serving the Native American community. He gave an inspiring talk about his program based on the wisdom of Native Elders. The concept is to achieve 'Wellbriety,' a coined English word to mean not just sobriety, but living in sober and dignified wellness:
"White Bison has been in existence 16 years. We have a Council of Elders including people from the white, red, yellow, and black races.... From our Elders we have learned that we are given 4 gifts for healing: The gift to forgive the unforgiveable (our ancestors within must forgive); Healing power; Unity; and Hope (the ability to dream)."
~~ Don Coyhis - White Bison, Inc.
David Whiters, Level II Addictions Counselor
and Founder of Recovery Associates of Atlanta
Developing Faith-Based, Peer-Lead Recovery Support Services
David Whiters' workshop taught community-based organizations how to partner with faith institutions to provide collateral social services to benefit individuals and families impacted by substance abuse:
"We learned that a coalition of a small number of churches with the same goals and objectives would be far more manageable and far more effective than a coalition of 60 churches.... Our federal grant does not allow us to proselytize, but we are allowed to have all Christ-centered staff. What we can do is provide services that help people to be more effective in their recovery. Some churches wanted only to preach the Gospel and, therefore, did not want to be involved, but others did realize they wanted to be part of a program that would simply provide services that would help people turn their lives around--housing, transportation, etc.... Some people ask us why we are so committed to helping them. They can come to our churches to find out that answer, but we do not preach in the program."
~~ David Whiters -
Level II Addictions Counselor
Rev. James McLaughlin, Houston Greater Ward AME
Church Pastor, Certified Pastoral Counselor
Narconon First Step Program Workshop
Rev. James McLaughlin, along with Clark Carr, described the Narconon First Step method of drug-free withdrawal and demonstrated its hands-on, physical assist techniques used to help another through voluntary, step-by-step drug withdrawal.
"My faith was tested by the demon of drug addiction in my congregation. I learned that tools existed where I could do something both practically and spiritually helpful to the addict, helping confront taking that terrible first step--coming off drugs. The Narconon First Step has taught me how with the resources my church and I had, not more, but just what already existed, and skills that I can apply with my own hands and with the help of a friend or family member of an addict, to help that addict voluntarily to confront stepping down off drugs, with the help of natural vitamins and minerals and hands-on techniques that allow him or her to feel that it is going to be okay, one step at a time..."
~~ Rev. James McLaughlin
Houston Greater Ward AME Church Pastor,
Certified Pastoral Counselor
Attendees Talking Between Workshops:
"The conference was fabulous! I learned a lot and would love to return."
"This was inspiring, educational, developmental. What a great way to see what we are doing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"Excellent! Very helpful skills taught that can be used right away."
~~ Conference Attendees
Dr. John Martin, Professor of Psychology and Family and
Preventive Medicine at San Diego State University
Dr. John Martin's workshop brought together scientific motivational counseling with spiritual/religious approaches to the problem of motivating addicts to reach for treatment:
"Motivational interviewing is really a way of being with people, not labelling them or trying to force them out of denial. We don't use that term 'denial' so much anymore. People know they have a problem whether they admit it or not. And people don't have to label themselves to change....
Studies have shown that a therapist's empathy can be a core predictor of change--empathy, not sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for a person and is never helpful, but always destructive. Empathy is a loving, standing with them. We don't want to push them or drag them. We want to be with them, love them, and we want to listen to them. We're good listeners and helpers, and we provide resources when they are ready and would like that."
~~ Dr. John Martin
Wayne White, Certified Advanced Substance Counselor, "Footprints"
Twelve Steps to a Spiritual Journey
Wayne White's workshop taught how people can do 12 step programs while still participating in their own religious group--loads of data with practical application"
"The 12 Step principles can apply to anything in life!... The 12 Steps were designed to establish a foundation where a person, if he practiced those principles in all his affairs, would get right with God and get right with others. There are principles in the Steps that would allow him to stay right with God, self, and others, a check and balance system, if you will.... Laws change because man makes laws. But principles don't change.... It doesn't make any difference how you got there to become an addict, it is what has to happen to get out of that place.... And where do you start with someone? 'If this is causing you a problem, it is a problem.' You start from there."
~~ Wayne White
Certified Advanced Substance Counselor
Rev. Alfreddie Johnson, Pastor, A True Faith Christian Center
Founder, World Literacy Crusade
Thursday's luncheon speaker, Rev. Alfreddie Johnson, talked about the World Literacy Crusade and the importance of handling illiteracy. His words inspired responsibility and the willingness to DO something about it!
"One of the causes of pain--pain is caused by having your reality shattered. Pain is caused by having your reality overwhelmed by some other's reality. When our reality has been overwhelmed by another person's or another group's reality we become that which we are overwhelmed by. If we are overwhelmed by a bully, most times we become a bully. ... If we allow our nation, our communities and our education to be overwhelmed by drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies, we will become a nation of drug addicts and drug pushers."
~~ Rev. Alfreddie Johnson
World Literacy Crusade
Drug Prevention Panel
During lunch on Friday, a drug prevention panel was hosted by:
- Joan Hastings, former State Representative
- Lisa Stein, Director of Wichita Mountains Prevention Network
- Bobby Newman, Drug Prevention Specialist, Narconon Arrowhead
"To ensure diversity in your organization, you should ask "Who's not here?"... Another rule of thumb in prevention: I ask myself, "If I had been told that, would that have helped me?" If not, it's not useful.... Look at the Search Institute's website and their "40 Things to Do."... Don't do programs to kids. They won't like it. They won't come. It won't keep them off drugs. Do them with kids. Invite them in up front. Recruit kids to work with you, and train them. These are future doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, ambassadors. We get them when they are 17 or 18. You can't believe the scholarships these kids are getting. They get them because they go in for their college interviews and, when asked "What's your community service?", they can talk for hours....
"Keep positive. Research shows that prevention CAN and DOES work. Drug prevention affects many things in the world of kids--school attendance, kid pregnancy, many things."
~~ Lisa Stein
Director of Wichita
Mountains Prevention Network
OCARTA (Oklahoma Citizen Advocates for Recovery and Treatment Association), Parents Helping Parents and OSASA (Oklahoma Substance Abuse Services Alliance) all had booths with useful material for the attendees:
"Would love to see a 2nd conference here in Oklahoma with more Oklahoman involvement so that Oklahoma can build relationships together to fight the war on drugs."
"Great resources to agencies which are motivated and ready to help promote change."
"God Bless You for your passion and your commitment!"
~~ Conference Attendees
SAMHSA Conference Closing Remarks
Conference Closing Remarks
Clifton Mitchell, Brad Yarbrough, Clark Carr
"I came wanting to help instruct and teach, but spent my entire time learning. I leave knowing much more than when I came. I want to thank you for that."
~~ Clark Carr
President Narconon International:
"In today's war, as Clifton says, we can afford to have only one attitude--that we are brothers and sisters. We are co-laborers who need to collaborate with one another. We are soldiers fighting a war.... The government does not want to run the church's shop.... I see a movement afoot where we are learning to work together without compromising. The church has a divine mandate, and the government has a political mandate--to reach the men and women who are struggling and need our help. I am here to say that these kind of conferences are needed and helping us to do that."
~~ Brad Yarbrough, Director of the Oklahoma Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative:
"Thank you for being here and making this commitment. Thank you on behalf of Charles Currie, Administrator of SAMHSA, and Dr. Westley Clark, Director of CSAT. I want you to know that those two gentlemen support you. And, yes, we will have another conference. Thank you."
~~ Clifton Mitchell
Coordinator, White House
Faith-Based and Community Partners Initiative:
Narconon® International and Narconon Arrowhead wish to thank SAMHSA for the funding support that allowed this important conference to be put on. We hope indeed that more lives will be saved from this opportunity taken to bring the faith community and drug rehab organizations together to meet and learn from one another.