Saint Paul, Minnesota—Central Park UMC dedicates the Sunday morning service to those recovering from addiction. A suggestion that Campe add a
recovery ministry quickly turned into Sunday service.
The Rev. Jo Campe starts the service by introducing himself as, “My name
is Jo, and I’m an alcoholic.” He has been celebrating nine years of being
alcohol free. His previous addiction “cost him the pastorate at one of
Minnesota’s largest United Methodist congregations and nearly killed him”
The church was dying out, but after tailoring ministry to addicts, it has
grown from 12 elderly members to 250 members reflecting a diversity of
denominations, faiths, ages, races, economic background, and addictions,
such as alcoholism, eating, or gambling. But all were there to heal.
Campe testifies, “I know what it’s like. I had a shotgun to my head, and I
was a drunk driver. So, it’s not a matter of ‘Isn’t it nice that we go to
church and do our prayers.’ It’s a matter of life and death. There’s a
sense of sincerity, which means that our joy is not cheap joy and our
grace is not cheap. We know what the bottom has been like, and we have
chosen to live again.”
Jesus did say that he did not come to call the righteous ones but the
sinners. Terry McKinley, a Mortgage banker and a recovering alcoholic
described the members of the congregation as “the broken, the fallen, and
the sinners that Christ came to work with and to save.”
Many members of the church feel that the new ministry welcomes them, when
they have oftentimes felt rejected by other churches. Through this
ministry, they have had the chance to be reconnected to their faith.
McKinley shows humility in saying, "We’re here showing off our dirty underwear, not
our fancy clothes. It’s the common ground that brings us together and
that’s what makes this place so special”.