Worship music filled the air as the sun set Friday outside St. Mark United Methodist Church, where the Greenwood Abbeville Coalition was hosting one of its Faith to Faith Friday events.
The coalition was formed at the end of 2017 to educate people and spread awareness about substance abuse and mental health, especially amid the opioid crisis, said Teresa Roy, who works at Cornerstone.
“We very quickly realized we can’t focus only on opioids,” she said. “We want to promote recovery and break down stigma so that more people would seek help.”
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, Roy said she realized substance abuse issues were on the rise, along with people being isolated from the social groups and support networks to which they had grown accustomed.
“Folks were very isolated, and we saw that overdoses were increased and suicidal ideation was increasing,” she said.
Betsy Royal, who also works at Cornerstone and with the coalition, said Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were being canceled because of the pandemic, and relapse rates were increasing. To get people out of isolation and promote social interaction, the Faith to Faith events became the solution.
Friday’s event, on the front lawn at St. Mark UMC, was the fifth the group had hosted — one every other Friday. Royal brings her children out, and besides meeting with people outdoors in a setting that supports social distancing, the live music and testimonials from people in recovery help bring the crowd closer together.
“People tell their stories of recovery and salvation,” Roy said.
Brandon Henson, associate pastor at West Side Baptist Church, said Friday was his first time attending one of these events. He was asked to come out to read scripture and share God’s word.
“I want to bring hope to people who aren’t quite sure hope is for them,” he said.
The next Faith to Faith Friday is Sept. 25 at the River Street St. Mark campus. For information about the events or the Greenwood Abbeville Coalition, visit wespreadhope.com.