Faith Community Taking on Addiction Crisis

September 20, 2016
New Partnership to Provide Education and Peer Support through Local Congregations

SIOUX FALLS, SD –- On Sunday, September 25 a group of leading churches will kick-off a groundbreaking initiative to tackle addiction in their congregations.

The South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has partnered with Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls in a new initiative -- “Communities Facing Addiction” -- to help drug and alcohol addiction sufferers get well.

The goal of the partnership is to create a culture of care, openness and support for those impacted by addiction in our community’s faith organizations.

“Communities Facing Addiction” currently includes 7 local congregations and is expected to expand to others.


The initiative will include ongoing educational activities and outreach, including presentations and speakers, to reduce stigma and shame so more people feel comfortable seeking help. Research shows that only 1 in 10 of those suffering from addiction will seek help in a given year.

The initiative will also include direct support. Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls has already trained 42 volunteer advocates in the participating churches to serve as peer supporters for those impacted by addiction in their congregations. The advocates will serve as a “safe landing place” for those suffering and help navigate them to resources and long-term, free peer recovery coaching provided by Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls.

“As Christians we are called to love our neighbor in ways that make a real difference.  With Communities Facing Addiction we are dedicating ourselves to removing the roadblocks to people getting well, and that, in itself, is an act of love,” said Bishop David Zellmer, The South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“The faith community has tremendous power to help those suffering from this devastating disease,” said Monique Johnson, Executive Director of Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls. “We know that many families will find great comfort in hearing messages of support from their faith leaders and getting access to the support that they need.”

The initiative began in August with a survey of the congregations to assess current attitudes and knowledge around addiction. A total of 455 surveys were collected from four congregations. Among the highlights:

  • More than 60% of respondents had a loved one (family or friends) impacted by addiction.
  • More than 23% of respondents had no life experience with alcohol or drug addiction.
  • About one in four (26%) believed that addiction is a personal weakness.
  • More than 94% agreed that addiction to alcohol and/or drugs can affect anyone.



“Communities Facing Addiction” kick-off in 7 local congregations. Participating churches will be rolling out the initiative with special sermons, outreach and announcements.

When:             Sunday, September 25, 2016

Where:         Gloria Dei Lutheran
                        Our Savior’s Lutheran
                        First Lutheran
                        Westside Lutheran
                        Brandon Lutheran
                        St. John American Lutheran
                        Holy Cross Lutheran
                        Renner Lutheran