Woodlands Methodist Church in Glasgow supporting people struggling with addiction

recovery-church-glasgowWoodlands Methodist Church in Glasgow is pioneering several programs to help people struggling with addictions to alcohol, gambling and/or drugs. 

It started three or four decades ago with the organisation of several Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. All of them are now bringing between 400 and 500 people to meet within the Church every week.

“Some people found a new life in this place through the different groups, so this church is an important place within the city,” starts Revd Laurent Vernet, Minister at East Kilbride and East Glasgow.

Woodlands Methodist Church makes people its priority and it was the only church in Glasgow that stayed open at all times during the pandemic. 

Building on these initiatives, Laurent is starting several recovery programs like Recovart in collaboration with a local professional artist. The pilot was a success, joining people in recovery with people who know someone in recovery and people with no link to recovery whatsoever.

They come to the church and work in groups of two to create a piece of art, the process helps them to communicate without using words. Some of the elements – the tree, the bird, the fish and the bell – created during the pilot are a reference to the legend of Saint Mungo and used for the coat of arms of Glasgow. The project will continue.

Another pioneering initiative is coaching sessions for people in recovery which has just started. The pilot has six young ex-offenders who themselves are in recovery and will last for six to nine months during which time they will learn how to become recovery coaches alongside learning skills such as public speaking, writing reports and teamwork.

“Maybe they will help us in our coaching once they are done, maybe not. Our aim is to train and empower ex-offenders in recovery to help people in recovery,” adds Laurent. 

From September, Woodlands Methodist Church will start a recovery church inspired by a similar initiative in Newcastle. They will have Bible recovery, Bible studies, recovery and worship. 

The final, and by far the most ambitious project will start in September as they embark on a New Place for New People. After the recent sale of the church building in East Glasgow, the proceeds have gone to the recovery project.

The long-term plan is to buy a new place in the area to welcome people suffering from addictions. People who live in east Glasgow have an average life expectancy of between 10 and 15 years lower than the national average because of drugs and alcohol.

“We want to offer a Christian community, working with them but not judging them and not telling them what to do”, says Laurent. One of their partners is an organisation that helps ex-offenders and they will share the building.

As funding in the church is limited, all of this work is made possible by grants and generous donations. At the heart of the project, the Strathclyde circuit voted unanimously for Laurent to be freed from usual ministry work from September to focus on the recovery projects. 

“I see ourselves as a church becoming smaller and smaller. I see ourselves as a small dog and small dogs bark. So if that's what God wants us to be let's bark, bark mad, but bark the good news in this world,” concludes Laurent.