About a year ago, Faith United Methodist Church in Tiffin began offering a weekly recovery program for teens called "The Landing." Facilitator Greg Glover said the largest group he had at one meeting was 19, but the average attendance is 8-10 teens. So far, 65 individuals have participated,
"It's for recovery from any addiction - chemical, pornography, sexual addiction, kids recovering from abuse, or if they're the abusers," Glover said.
Now, he is conducting make-up sessions for individuals who have missed a lesson here and there. A new 52-week session is to begin Dec. 4 and meet every Wednesday from 6:15 -8:30 p.m. The group is open to males and females ages 13-19. The evening begins with a hot meal for the teens. Glover said he ordered pizza for the first several weeks, but participants asked if they could have something else.
"We went to our church and St. Paul's and asked for volunteers to cook food on Wednesdays. That's been really neat. The kids have absolutely loved the home-cooked meals," Glover said.
After dinner, everyone interacts in a large-group format to become acquainted and socialize. Glover then leads a brief time of worship with music chosen by the leaders or the teens. Next is "teaching time," which incorporates Scripture and discussion about what has brought each of them to this point in their lives. The girls and boys then separate into small groups that also are divided into middle school and high school age groups. Conversations are kept confidential and anonymous.
"In the small groups, we build on what happened in the teaching time and do a little more introspection," Glover said.
The Landing is an outgrowth of "Celebrate Recovery," an adult program from the Saddleback Church of pastor Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." Adults were having such good results that it was adapted for use with teens. Glover said Scott Blevins of Tiffin conducted a Celebrate Recovery group for several months. Glover and five other church members participated in the group to receive training for The Landing. Each week has a scripted lesson for the leaders to follow. A local counselor, Julie George, has instructed the facilitators on skills for communicating with youth.
"The program has specific questions to ask as the day goes on," Glover said. "We currently have six full-time 'associates' and four more in training. (Those in training) come for everything up to the small group segment."
The Landing is not an ongoing support group. Individuals are not expected to stay in the program after completing the year-long course, but Glover said he would like some of the "graduates" to be trained as instructors or to serve as mentors for participants.
"You can start anywhere in the program, so if you start at week 26, you go through until week 25. It's not important where you start as long as you go through it all," Glover said. "But we're not kicking anyone out after their 52 weeks. There's more to learn. They can always repeat a lesson or whatever."
There is no need to belong to any church, and there is no cost to participate. Juvenile Court Judge Jay Meyer gives out information about The Landing in packets for youth who must take part in some kind of program as part of their probation. The lessons are Bible-based, and participants are asked to respect whatever beliefs other people may have. The Landing has eight principles based on the Beatitudes.
"A lot of the other programs cost money, but ours is free," Glover said.
Faith United Methodist Church is located at 75 N. Sandusky St., Tiffin. To learn about the local program, call (419) 455-6050. More information is available online at www.celebraterecovery.com.