Wild Rose United Church & Simon House turn a ‘New Leaf’ with recovery day program

“Our decision to move forward to provide space and financial resources for this program is our next right action as a congregation that believes in social justice.” –
— Barbara Grant, Wild Rose United Church

Recovery ministry has always been a priority for Wild Rose United Church, Calgary. When the church sold an adjacent property, congregational leaders worked with Chinook Winds Region to discern that part of the sale proceeds be invested to further recovery programming in Calgary. Late last month, the pilot phase for New Leaf Recovery Program began at the Wild Rose location.

Chinook Winds Strategy Consultant Joel Den Haan worked with the congregation’s sustainability committee to explore the needs and issues for recovery in the community. Extensive research and consultation identified that a long-term, day program was a gap to be filled, for people who are unable to adapt their life situation to a residential program. That ultimately led to conversations with Simon House Recovery Centre’s Executive Director Dr. John Rook.

The New Leaf Recovery program comes about in partnership with Wild Rose and Simon House. In late May, the first cohort of 10 participants began the 12-week program at the Wild Rose church location with others already on the waiting list for the next session that begins late August.

You’ll find below three short articles on the New Leaf Program:

  1. New Leaf program coordinator David Reize gives voice to addiction’s complexity and the beautiful potential for recovery.
  2. Wild Rose member Barbara Grant highlights how recovery ministry has been rooted in the congregation’s wellness priorities.
  3. David Reize further outlines the New Leaf program.

The complexity of addiction:
returning to ourselves through recovery

By David Reize

Tom enters my office with timid and unsure steps in spite of his imposing figure. His gaze follows the lines on the floor, and rarely meets mine; there is a heavy weight about him as he slumps down in the chair across from me. I know he has been through much just to get here. If I told him how profound I find his courage and determination to walk through that door, I know he couldn’t receive it beneath the layers of heaviness he holds about him. His story breaks my heart, though he tells it with a striking lack of expression – the numbness that has given him relief from endless waves of shame and self-loathing. With time this man may come to tell fuller and fuller versions of his own story; to feel and to heal the hurt beneath the numbness; he may come to recognize his own incredible journey of survival. With time, and with care, Tom may one day see himself as he is – as God sees him –and the outcome of this can only be Love.

Tom’s story is one of many emerging all around us. Within addiction, there is much that is unspoken and unspeakable: trauma, shame, grief, pain, fear, abandonment, abuse. These are all the things that we politely avoid in casual conversation, hiding them away in the shadows, denying them voice to be heard. The shadows of our collective neglect make heavy burdens that are carried alone – even if many others carry similar burdens. Being alone in the dark with these terrible burdens is terrifying and escaping them NOW becomes the highest priority.

Addiction is the escape hatch, the surefire silver bullet.
Leading people through these shadows, into places where their unspeakable stories can be heard by their own ears, and by caring people in an atmosphere of hospitality, means their burdens lessen. Working through the isolation, shame and hard-wired survival patterns is a complex and delicate endeavour and must be approached with care and responsiveness.
The complex task of returning a person to themselves is neither easy nor direct. But it is one of the most beautiful things that can ever happen in this world.
New Leaf Holistic Recovery is a long-term, abstinence-based holistic treatment centre hosted in collaboration with Wild Rose United Church for those who are seeking recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. “Holistic” means programming that features a balance of mind, heart, body, and spirit-based learning and growth experiences. For this reason, New Leaf programming hosts a diverse range of class types, including psychoeducation, recovery topics, nutrition, life skills, financial literacy, individual and group therapy, body-based movement, Wellbriety, and expressive arts. Recognizing each person’s uniqueness, participants will have the opportunity to experience multiple modalities of recovery (Dharma, Smart, and 12 Step) to select the best fit for themselves.

Recovery ministry: Our radical welcome at Wild Rose Church

Barbara Grant, a longtime leader in building community ministry focused on wellness, tells us:

I am a retired adult educator, school principal and spiritual health practitioner. I am also an adult child of alcoholism and a member of Wild Rose United Church. I had the privilege of giving the blessing to the first cohort of the New Leaf Holistic Recovery Program. I happened to catch the eye of one of the program participants while blessing the group and I saw in her eyes hope and gratitude. She was Indigenous and I found myself speaking to those eyes about the wind, the sun and the rain and about standing on holy ground as she entered into this thing called recovery.
        The Church is taking the next right action as it believes in those who may not yet be ready to believe in themselves as they enter this daytime program. This is our Radical Welcome. The New Leaf Holistic Recovery is the best example of a Theology of Hope, which is our Progressive Theology. We know as a congregation that the divine presence works in us, through us and all around us. Our decision to move forward to provide space and financial resources for this program is our next right action as a congregation that believes in Social Justice. We know that we are all blessed, loved and set free to become the people God wants us to be.

An outline of the New Leaf Recovery program:
support from all angles of the recovery journey

New Leaf Program Coordinator David Reize writes:

At our Wild Rose location, we now have a group of 10 participants enrolled for the initial 12-week program, and the courage, openness and commitment they are displaying is truly inspiring. This is the first cohort to participate in a new initiative in which ongoing support from a local congregation adds healing, hope, and hospitality to the expertise of an accredited, professional addictions-treatment organization. There is a wonderful diversity in our group, with a range of differing age, culture, socio-economic status, and gender. Our participants are connecting very naturally to our holistic approach, and many are expressing that what we are offering is engaging them on new and different levels.
From psychology to life skills, neuroscience and yoga to expressive arts, group and individual counselling, New Leaf recovery programming aims to support our participants from all angles on their journey to a fulfilled and addiction-free life.
Our philosophy is that when we set up conditions in our lives that are balanced and healthy – inwardly and outwardly — growth and healing are in our nature and will take place on their own accord.
Looking ahead, we already have a waitlist of participants for further cohorts, and long-term funding initiatives are in full force.
We are deeply grateful for our team, and all those who came together to make this launch possible and successful. Many have worked tirelessly to bring this program to life. I am especially thankful for our front-line staff, who are adaptively and creatively navigating each new day of this pilot; to Simon House, for their support and resources, and to Wild Rose United Church and Chinook Winds Region for their generous offering of this beautiful space, heartfelt relationship and personal, spiritual, and financial support.