The North Carolina Council of Churches began addressing the issue of substance-use disorder and overdose response before its Oklahoma counterpart.
Elizabeth Brewington joined the council in 2018 specifically to work in this area of ministry, focusing on the overdose response component for the organization’s Partners in Health and Wholeness program. She said the council is working to help faith communities navigate the complexities of substance-use disorder — gratifying work that can lead churches to become more involved in combating the overdose crisis.
Clergy breakfasts have been an integral part of the program, Brewington said, and they have continued, primarily virtually, during the pandemic. When in-person, the events are held at local houses of worship. Spiritual leaders are invited for information gathering and training. The events provide opportunities for council staff and volunteers, clergy, and lay leaders to get to know one another. Over these informal meals, conversations about each community’s particular needs and concerns seem to flourish.