Presbyterians Today

JUN-JUL 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | JUNE/JULY 2018 11 Six years ago, Diane Buxton was sitting in the church kitchen pouring out her heart, shedding count- less tears because her son was addicted to drugs. A high school football injury had led to his dependence on prescription painkillers. Jeanette Krohne, a deacon at White Lick, was intently listening because her adult son also suffered from addiction — to alcohol. Both women were familiar with the highs and lows of addic- tion, the failed treatments and the tremendous impact an addicted loved one has on the entire family. While neither knew how to best help their sons, they both felt called to reach out to other parents experiencing the same situation. Churches' response to addiction in many cases has been to remain silent. If churches have responded, it has often been with a program for the addict but nothing for the family. Buxton and Krohne, however, took their idea for starting a parent-support group to their pastor, the Rev. Daren Hofmann. The women's research led them to choose PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones), a national Christian- based group founded in 2006. With the encouragement of their pastor and the blessings of the session, a PAL group was formed at White Lick. PAL meetings last around 90 minutes, beginning with prayer and introductions, followed by an edu- cational component and sharing time, and ending in prayer. Church members pray for the group and for indi- viduals who are encountering particularly tough times. Buxton and Krohne still marvel at how God brought them together, out of a dark time, and in the process presented the opportunity for them to help others. And if one was to ask what their favorite Bible verse was, they would agree on Isaiah 6:8, when God inquires, "Whom shall I send?" Buxton and Krohne have answered, "Here we are, send us." — Virginia Sheets organization, the church's garden contains the neces- sary plants to feed monarch caterpillars, as well as monarch butterflies resting on their migration from the Northern states into Mexico. Not only has the waystation been a delight for churchgoers, the Master Gardeners who are members of the EarthCare Team have used it to teach local students and amateur naturalists about monarch habitat conservation. The team obtained a grant from the PC(USA) to continue and expand its rain barrel program, with the aim to grow the butterfly garden and offer more educational programs for neighboring schools. Webster Presbyterian Church got involved in earth care through the PC(USA)'s Earth Care Congregation certification program. — Anya Ezhevskaya Retiree becomes advocate for others Joe Erickson had retired and was enjoying sitting by his pool and drinking a soft drink. But his life was soon to change when he learned about the Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA) program in central Indiana. Erickson, an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Indiana, said, "I felt like my religion directed me to this program." The VASIA program provides advocates for seniors and incapacitated adults who are unable to make deci- sions for themselves. Most volunteers learn about the program from news- paper articles. There are 18 VASIA programs through- out Indiana. To become a VASIA advocate, one must attend several training classes in mental health and dementia, read a manual and agree to a background check. VASIA volunteers work about five hours a month, Erickson says. In those five hours, one can interact with all sorts of personalities, he said, adding that that's one reason "I enjoy my job." "The most rewarding part of my job is to see some- one's life put in order," Erickson said. "I feel like I am making a difference." — Pat Stackhouse A mother's pain creates space for healing It's a Thursday evening, and people are wandering into White Lick Presbyterian Church in Avon, Indiana. They're not there for a Bible study or choir practice. They're there because they have a family member suf- fering from drug addiction. Churches' response to addiction in many cases has been to remain silent. If churches have responded, it has often been with a program for the addict but nothing for the family.

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