Annual Conference is a time when United Methodists from around Indiana come together to learn about the many ways the Church serves the communities around us in its mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This year’s conference created the opportunity for Hoosier United Methodists to give in support of organizations that are helping those facing various forms of addiction, including the fight against opioids.

United Methodist Churches around Indiana donated more than 1,200 lap blankets during Annual Conference to be distributed to different chapters of A Better Life — Brianna’s Hope (ABL-BH). Brianna’s Hope is a faith-based organization committed to assisting individuals and communities “battling addiction, using support, encouragement, and collaboration.” The organization has shared longstanding relationships with United Methodist churches throughout the Conference. Blankets will be donated to new participants during their first meeting to remind them of the new community they have entered and will support them as they take their next steps in recovery and life.

Randy Davis, Founder of A Better Life — Brianna’s Hope and former Assistant District Superintendent, shared that the blankets were donated to 30 Brianna’s Hope chapters throughout Indiana and parts of Ohio. According to Randy, recipient churches are located in “Redkey, Dunkirk, Portland, Albany, Montpelier, Hartford City, Muncie, Anderson, Union City, Winchester, Cambridge City, Liberty, Rushville, Connersville, Decatur, Van Buren, Mentone, Gaston, New Castle, Knightstown, Celina, St. Mary’s in Ohio, and other locations.”

Randy shared about a recent occurrence at the Redkey chapter in which the lap blankets played a significant role for a family working their way through recovery.

“A mother and father were there to celebrate that they had just been reunited with their five kids after more than ten months of them being in five different homes. Each child received a blanket. As they were leaving, their three-year-old son stated, ‘This is the womast (warmest) blanket in the whole wold (world).’

He added, “This has allowed us to share hope, warmth and a ‘we care’ with many strugglers.”

Robert “R.C.” Muhlbaier, Associate Director of Leadership Development – Laity and Discipleship, was inspired to establish the blanket collection after learning that Brianna’s Hope would be a part of the Annual Conference session. Muhlbaier was familiar with the reach and impact the organization has made in the lives of people battling addiction, as well as its long-term involvement with the Church.

“It seemed like the natural move was to reach out to Randy and ask how we might be able to support Brianna’s Hope,” said R.C. “He immediately responded that blankets were a large material need, so we decided that our collaboration would be the collection of blankets that would be distributed.”

The Annual Conference Missional Offering also focused on Lucille Raines Residence, a longstanding ministry with a mission focus of “Rebuilding Lives – Committed to Addiction Recovery.” The organization is owned and operated by United Methodist Women of Indiana and receives monthly support from the women-led ministry. At its core, the organization operates as a ministry, providing opportunities for its residents to learn about and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and as stated on the organization’s website, “many are finding Christ to be the source of successful recovery.”

This year’s missional offering collected over $7,000 to go toward supporting Lucille Raines Residence and Brianna’s Hope in their effort to counter the opioid crisis in Indiana.

“Yes, there is a growing crisis,” shared Lucille Raines Executive Director Carolyn Marshall. “Alcohol was the primary drug of choice during the early years and often remains a gateway drug. Various primary drugs of choice have evolved, with heroin addiction being rampant currently.”

Carolyn shared that the offering will go toward making recovery assistance a reality for many. Currently, rent received from residents only covers half the cost of the program. The nonprofit organization relies on monthly support donated by United Methodist Women, as well as Conference Advance donations, to continue serving communities.

“The missional offering will assist with subsidizing rent for folk who, through no fault of their own, need assistance in order to continue living in this safe, clean, and sober environment,” she added.

Do you wish to learn about how your church can respond to the needs of those dealing with the realities of the opioids crisis? Join us for a learning opportunity designed to equip local churches to be responsive and missional in this effort. Register for “Opioids & The Church” today