About

The Center of Addiction & Faith is a God-inspired movement to open the hearts and minds of faith communities everywhere to better understand the spread of addiction, its consequences and how to respond.

Addiction is the Number One health crisis facing our society today, and it is continually growing worse. There exists a distinct spiritual facet of addiction recovery that is not fully understood but is much needed for healing. We call that faith. We believe that faith communities, geographically and philosophically well positioned everywhere, can help bring about the kind of transformation we are in dire need of.

The Center of Addiction & Faith is committed to bringing spiritual leaders together, to learn about addiction and how to better address the spiritual needs of those affected. There are so many who need spiritual care, and faith communities can do so much more to help. 

The centerpiece of The Center of Addiction & Faith is our annual, national gathering of ecumenical and interfaith spiritual leaders and many others who are interested in being part of the solution to addiction. Visit the Addiction & Faith Conference. We hope you will attend.

Along with the annual conference, The Center of Addiction & Faith provides extensive resources for leaders seeking to learn about this life-saving ministry and support those who are living in the solution. Please use this Web site as a resource and guide.

 

Our Mission - Our Vision

MISSION STATEMENT

Educating Clergy, Faith Communities and Caregivers About Addiction

Offering the hope of recovery to the addicted, and to those who love them.

Our Mission

The Center of Addiction & Faith works to awaken faith communities to be more fully places of welcome and healing for persons with addiction and those who love them.

The Center of Addiction & Faith is a cross-cultural, inter-faith network sought out and supported by faith communities, mental health and addiction experts, religiously-inclined people who seek recovery from addiction, and change agents, including legislators and philanthropists.

Our vision is a world of human and institutional flourishing that inches closer toward grace and community, away from the brokenness and isolation imposed by addiction and exacerbated by uninformed theology and scapegoat politics. The building blocks of that household are: Faith, Science, Justice and Compassion.

 

Our Vision

Our vision is a world of human and institutional flourishing that inches closer toward grace and community, away from the brokenness and isolation imposed by addiction and exacerbated by uninformed theology and scapegoat politics. The building blocks of that household are: Faith, Science, Justice and Compassion.

Our Goals and Objectives

We aim to do our work with the support of a few principles. We do not live out these principles perfectly. We simply strive to do the best we can in all that we undertake.

  • Theological Humility
  • Addiction as Science, Not Morality
  • Authenticity, Vulnerability and Transformation
  • Treatment Not Punishment
  • Destigmatizing Our Language
 
  • Theological Humility

Theological humility begins with acknowledgement of our brokenness and limitations and is open to new ideas and new ways to think about God.  Ultimately, humility is understanding that our sole purpose and calling in life is to use ourselves and all that God has given us. As the language of the 12 steps puts it: being of maximum service to God and to our fellows. This is achieved by elevating others, by encouraging them, lifting them up. We accept that nobody fully understands God, and our theologies can only scratch the surface of comprehension.

 

  • Addiction as Science, Not Morality

Despite all we have learned, society and faith communities continue to treat the issue of addiction with unfair stigma – addiction is bad – and judgement – you brought this on yourself; and thus shame – you are bad. We do not do this in our culture if someone has cancer or a brain tumor or requires insulin for diabetes. When in fact, addiction is also disease with a physiological pathology, the nature of which is to demand more of what actually causes trouble for or in the body.

The beginning of the healing process begins with this understanding. Until we accept the science of addiction, we will continue to treat the various symptoms instead of the underlying problem, which is often an unresolved traumatic wound to the psyche. The Center of Addiction and Faith is committed to promoting the facts about addiction through the best and most current research in addiction studies. To this end, we believe that many modalities contribute to healing and that there is no one “right” way to recover.

We also believe that every single living soul is a child of God, regardless of race, color, creed, belief and illness. A loving creator known by many names and understandings has made us beings to “be” the best we can be in this lifetime and throughout eternity. God mourns when that which God has created mourns; God rejoices when creation rejoices.

 

  • Authenticity, Vulnerability and Transformation

“I am not being flippant when I say that all of us suffer from addiction. Nor am I reducing the meaning of addiction. I mean in all truth that the psychological, neurological, and spiritual dynamics of full-fledged addiction are actively at work within every human being.” 

 — the late Dr. Gerald May, psychiatrist and theologian

We are all weak. We all struggle. It is human nature to be flawed and to break. It is also human nature to hide our brokenness! It is God’s nature to shine light on brokenness and enact healing. There is no need to hide from something normal. We are free to emerge, transformed by grace. Only with God’s help (however we understand God), is our strength made perfect in weakness. We see it throughout scripture, and we see it today in our modern stories. And we carry hope with us to God’s other children when we describe what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now.

We realize that by being open and authentic—and inviting others to be the same—that there is no more pretending or hypocrisy, which are forms of dishonesty and manipulation.

  • Treatment Not Punishment

Compassion is the natural response and state of those living in the grace of God’s unconditional love. When we are authentic and vulnerable, we are more able to show compassion and understanding. From this love comes great levels of compassion and understanding, which is a true gift to those who live in shame and fear, for whatever reason.

We would never punish our loved ones for getting cancer or diabetes. Yet our nation’s War on Drugs pursues punishment rather than treatment as a response to addiction and drug use. It is the responsibility of advocates, especially people of faith, to promote a different approach.

The single most prominent national response to drug use and addiction has been a failed War on Drugs, implemented in 1971, to combat illegal drug use by greatly increasing penalties, enforcement, and incarceration for drug offenders. This tragic effort has been based on premises that have no discernible relation to addiction and its causes. It has destroyed countless lives for no recognizable purpose, at a cost of over $1 trillion since 2001. 

Simultaneously, the War on Drugs has led to the mass incarceration of African-American and Latino individuals, and has militarized police departments in cities and towns across the country. It has also failed to reduce drug use. 

Meanwhile, treatment for addiction remains a luxury for the rich. State hospitals are egregiously underfunded and beds are limited for people with mental-health emergencies. Those with ongoing mental-health difficulty requiring psychiatric treatment often also have problems with addiction, and they have few places to turn.

  • Destigmatizing Our Language

Little progress has been made in removing the stigma around substance use disorders. People with addiction continue to be blamed for their disease. Even though medicine long ago reached a consensus that addiction is a complex brain disorder with behavioral components, the public, including the Church, and even many in healthcare and the justice system often continue to view it as a result of moral weakness and flawed character.

Stigma on the part of healthcare providers who tacitly see a patient’s drug or alcohol problem as their own fault leads to substandard care or even to rejecting individuals seeking treatment. People showing signs of acute intoxication or withdrawal symptoms are sometimes expelled from emergency rooms by staff fearful of their behavior or assuming they are only seeking drugs. People with addiction internalize this stigma, feeling shame, and refuse to seek treatment as a result.

To do our part in reducing stigma, we need language that’s unified. The Recovery Research Institute has published an A to Z list of terms, their level of provoking stigma and preferable terms to use. It will take time for us to incorporate these terms into our vocabulary, but we must be part of the change we seek. https://www.recoveryanswers.org/addiction-ary/

 

History

The Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy (FRLC) is a national fellowship with the mission to support clergy in recovery and in need of support. It also advocates for good health policies around addiction. 

As clergy we believe faith communities are in an ideal position to make a significant difference in healing addiction, and yet they do very little to address it. For way too long, religions of every kind have avoided this issue, and it’s time to stepped up. We want to help teach them what they can do.

In 2018, in response to the opioid epidemic (the biggest health crisis facing our country at the time), the FRLC held a conference to teach faith leaders more about addiction, and how their communities can better respond. We pulled together the best scientists and theologians on the topic, and prayed we would get at least 50 local leaders to attend. We were pleasantly surprised when we had to cut off the registration at 200, and had leaders from 22 states and 7 denominations (including a Pastor from Canada) attend the conference. Our second conference in 2019 was even a greater success! We had an significant increase in attendees, with 34 states represented (and another Canadian Pastor) and 12 denominations.

Spring-boarding from highly successful annual Conferences, and continuous interest in healing addiction, The Center of Addiction & Faith was born. The Center of Addiction & Faith provides a desperately needed resource for faith communities, healthcare professionals, and those struggling with, or in recovery. The Center of Addiction & Faith plans to continue to feature an annual conference. The Center offers a robust website that is evolving with up-to-date education, guidance, tools, best practices, and wisdom from industry leaders on addiction.

We believe the time is now! We imagine a whole army of caregivers out there waiting to be shown what to do. We believe The Center of Addiction & Faith has been called to lead this movement.

Addiction is the number one preventable killer of people of every age, race, and nation. We can never stop it, but we can reduce it, and mitigate the terrible impacts on families and communities. We ask that you will share this opportunity with some who might be interested. We can save lives, with the faith communities help.

Leadership

Executive Staff

Pastor Ed Treat

Executive Director & Founder

I’ve been many places in life. Spiritually I’ve been all over the map – my faith is being transformed continuously. I was a full-blown drug addict the first third of my life, then an ordained pastor for the second third, and now God is calling me to be an addiction crusader.” Learn More About Pastor Ed

Leadership

Board of Directors

Drew Brooks

Board of Directors

Mr. Brooks is the executive director of Faith Partners, a non-profit organization providing leadership, administration, and training for a congregational, addiction-team ministry model. He has worked in the prevention, treatment, and public health fields for over thirty-four years. Mr. Brooks has worked with Hazelden and the Johnson Institute, among other organizations providing training, and has consulted with faith communities, schools, and community organizations across the country. [email protected]

Harriet Rossetto

Board of Directors

Harriet Rossetto is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who formed Beit T’Shuvah in Los Angeles, in 1986, with a tremendously humanizing task: to help broken souls and change a broken system. Harriet’s belief that addiction is a malady of the soul requiring spiritual healing inspired her to create a thriving community that supports addicts of all kinds, wherever they are in life. Her greatest reward is witnessing and participating in the miracle of transformation. Her view that everyone is capable of redemption is at the core of why she empowered the residents of Beit T’Shuvah with employment, hiring 90% of her staff from within. Today, Harriet is a sought-after speaker in synagogues and community groups worldwide, discussing recovery from the human condition. She received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota and teaches classes about the treatment and philosophy of the “dis-ease” of addiction. Harriet is also an author of Sacred Housekeeping: a spiritualmemoir.

timothy-mcmahan-king

Timothy McMahan King

Board of Directors

Mr. King is a nonprofit professional and the owner of Vagabond Strategies. He is a writer, and author of the book Addiction Nation: What the Opioid Crisis Says About Us. His work has been published in Christianity Today, Sojourners, CNN.com, and the Wall Street Journal. Mr. King has worked as a community organizer in Chicago, a chief strategy officer with Sojourners, and as a consultant for the Center for Action and Contemplation. Mr. King is a graduate of North Park University with degrees in theology and philosophy. He lives with his wife, Hannah, in New Hampshire.

Rabbi Mark Borowitz

Board of Directors

A spiritual leader, author, senior rabbi, ex-con, recovering alcoholic and overall anomaly, Rabbi Mark’s mission is to de-stigmatize the life-threatening disease of addiction After being released from prison in 1988, Mark began his work at Beit T’Shuvah; a non-profit, non-sectarian, Jewish addiction treatment center and synagogue in Los Angeles, offering one the most exceptional approaches to addiction treatment and criminal rehabilitation and reintegration in the world. His biography, The Holy Thief: A Conman’s Journey from Darkness to Light (Harper Collins), tells the story of his life from hopelessness to redemption. He is also author of Finding Recovery and Yourself in Torah: A Daily Spiritual Path to Wholeness (Jewish Lights Publishing). He was officially ordained in 2000 at the University of Judaism with a master’s in Rabbinic Literature.

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp

Board of Directors

Rev. Sharp is executive director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, which mobilizes clergy nationally to end the war on drugs. He served for 15 years as the founding executive director of Protestants for the Common Good, an Illinois-based faith advocacy organization. He was also vice president for business and finance at the University of Chicago 1980-1993. Rev. Sharp graduated from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1996. He became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ in 2007. [email protected]

Rev. Dr. Ed Treat

Board of Directors

Rev. Dr. Ed Treat has a Master of Divinity and a Doctorate in Ministry from Luther Seminary and has been a parish pastor for 25 years. He has served four different congregations, including one he started as a mission developer. In 1990 he joined the newly formed Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy (FRLC), a non-profit joint effort between pastors of the LCMS and ELCA to provide recovery support to professional clergy and their families. In 2001 Pastor Ed became the director of the FRLC, and has been its leader for the past 19 years. In 2018/2019 Rev. Dr. Treat (with the support of the FRLC and in partnership of the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopalian Church – RMEC), launched the highly successful Addiction & Faith Conference to educate, inspire and equip congregations in addiction ministry. Rev. Dr. Treat currently serves on the Boards of the FRLC, RMEC, and The Center of Addiction & Faith. Rev. Dr. Treat is blessed to have 24 years of recovery from addiction.

D. Richard Wright

Board of Directors

Mr. Wright is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Bear Clan, Pillager Band. He was raised on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in North-Central Minnesota. Mr. Wright attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Community Technical College, and the Archbishop Harry F. Flynn Catechetical Institute, Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota. He is Licensed as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor with the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Therapy. He has an active interest in drug addiction, as he has worked in the field since 1986. Mr. Wright started his career in the Hennepin County, MN 4th Judicial District Court, adult probation, and has since worked in residential treatment programs including Hazelden-Betty Ford as a clinician. Mr. Wright has spoken on both an International and National level on drug studies. He has authored three books, “Mukwa and Adjidamoo”, “The Way of Our People”, and “From Wine To Mouthwash”. Mr. Wright is currently a supervisor of drug addiction programs at the Indian Health Board, and is also a consultant in the Chemical dependency field. Mr. Wright is the proud father of nine children, eighteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren

Stephanie Werner

Board Chair

Stephanie Shareck Werner does her best to be a spiritual being in a deeply human world. A retired marketing communications professional, Stephanie shares her gifts of creativity with people and organizations that value transformation. Whether doing strategic planning, writing, speaking, mentoring, learning or serving, she filters her worlds through the Gospels and the 12 steps. In 2022, Stephanie is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Baptism, which took place at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Penfield, New York, by seeking postulancy as a vocational deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. With her husband of two decades, she lives just far enough outside the quaint train town of Ashland, Virginia, that she gets to drive by cows on her way home. Her biggest accomplishment, however, is that three grandchildren call her “Phannie.”

Louise Olson

Secretary & Treasurer

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Minnesota with degree in mathematics, Louise worked as a Computer Systems Analyst for Control Data Corp. She has spent lifetime volunteering at schools, church and camps and in the community. She serves enthusiastically at Transfiguration Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minn., where she is also a Stephen Minister. She has accompanied Pastor Ed through the transition of his church ministry into building the Center of Addiction & Faith, where she is secretary and treasurer. She is happily married, the mother of two sons and grandmother of four boys.

The Center of Addiction & Faith 

is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
All donations to this mission are tax deductible

The Center of Addiction & Faith is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. All donations to this ministry are tax deductible.

The Founding Board for the Center of Addiction & Faith