Of the 18 churches now in the Network, at least four Farragut-area churches — Christ Covenant PCA, First Baptist Concord, Shoreline Baptist and Faith Promise — are key players in its initiative, providing both financial and volunteer support to the clinic.
“(The public officials) expressed to us the need for help regarding the opioid and drug crisis in our community,” recalled the Rev. Seth Hammond, senior pastor of Christ Covenant and chairman of the Network. “They said they had kind of hit a wall regarding how to address this complex issue and (said), ‘we are calling on you, faith-based leaders, to help us.’”
Since that meeting, Hammond said the pastors continued to meet and pray.
“We came up with the Knox County Church Network,” he said. “The Network had been working for that two years on what would become the best solution that we could offer to help with the drug and opioid crisis, and we came up with the new clinic, which is an intensive outpatient treatment center.”
“Renew Clinic is Christ-centered and clinically-informed,” said Sarah Keel, Renew executive director. “We believe Christ is the answer to addiction and He is Lord and Savior.
“We know that it is very spiritual in nature, but we also understand through the scientific and medical communities and research that there are biological components as well as spiritual,” Keel added.
“I am very grateful for churches to be involved. There needs to be a level of accountability since it is Christ-centered.”
“I believe (the center) is a huge win that our community has needed for a long time, and the fact that you have churches of different denominations that are willing to unite together and serve together and gather our resources — share our staff and our volunteers — that speaks volumes,” Hammond said.
The Rev. Dr. John Mark Harrison, senior pastor of FBC, and the Rev. Dr. Chris Stephens were unavailable for comment.
Hammond said the Network’s church members have raised more than $225,000 as of the second week in May.
At Christ Covenant, he said his whole church congregation has been involved, giving both time and money.
“Several (CCC church members/volunteers) have had previous experience with drugs or opioids, whether themselves or family members, who had struggled with it,” Hammond said. “Those folks have definitely been a part of this.
“We also have others who just have a heart for the struggle of addiction, and they want to help,” he added. “We have 20 people who have been involved in the volunteer capacity so far … that’s only going to grow.”
For more information on the Network, visit knoxcountychurchnetwork.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Renew, e-mail SarahKeel@RenewKnoxville.com.
Hammond said volunteers have going through a coaches’ academy training, which they will use to coach, guide and mentor assigned participants going through the 12-month program, and Jim Coffield, a CCC staff member and the Network’s board of directors member, helped write the curriculum for the clinic’s program.
Keel said the clinic’s groups hold 12 people maximum.
“We plan to build up to three groups total in this building, which would be 36 participants going through 12 weeks of IOP at any given time when we reach our max capacity,” she added.
Along with the trained volunteers, the CCC will be providing free childcare for participants and supporting the clinic financially and through prayers, Hammond said.
Additionally, “we are going to offer a scholarship fund for people who have a hard time affording going through treatment,” he said.
Hammond pointed out Farragut’s FBC and Shoreline Church also have been key players in the Network’s initiative.
“Shoreline Church, as well as other churches, individuals and companies in the community have committed a substantial financial amount as well as roughly 10 to 15 people from our church that will be serving the population at Renew,” Bieber said. “We have a few folks involved that have addiction in their family or have experienced addiction personally who want to help others walk through it.”
“All of our churches in this Network are saying we’ve got this problem, and it’s not getting any better … so we really have a heart for those struggling, and that’s what the church is all about,” Hammond said. “We’re here to provide hope and healing to those really struggling.”