Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church

Rev. Stuart Hoke at St. Paul's

Rev. Stuart Hoke at St. Paul's

What is the problem?

Addiction is a disease. It is a primary illness, not caused by some outside circumstance. It is progressive, incurable and fatal. Addiction is a problem of brain-chemistry; it is a medical issue, not a moral problem. Because of it, alcoholics and addicts have lost the power of choice in the matter. Addiction is a progressive, fatal, incurable disease characterized by compulsive use, loss of control over use, and continued use despite negative consequences.

What's that got to do with us? 

Alcoholism afflicts approximately one adult out of ten people sitting in your pews. The greatest cause of death among young people is traffic accidents; half are alcohol related.

  • Alcohol is a factor in nearly one half of homicides. The average reduction in life span of a person who dies of alcohol related causes is 26 years.
  • Alcohol plays a part in at least one out of every three failed marriages.
  • 25-40% of general hospital admissions are for alcoholism and related causes.
  • Some 18 million people in the US need alcohol treatment, less than one-fourth will get it.
  • Alcohol abuse costs the nation untold millions.
  • Alcoholism kills about 100,000 people each year
  • Between the years 2001 and 2005, the number of Americans between the age of 50 and 59 who were using illegal drugs rose from 2.5 percent to 4.7 percent.
  • Over six million children in America live with at least one parent who has a drug addiction.
  • Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 percent.

The most commonly abused drug (other than alcohol) in the United States by individuals over the age of 12 is Marijuana, followed by prescription painkillers and over the counter medications. Addiction can affect persons of any age, gender, economic status, race or religion; it affects the people in your pews.

What can we do?

Alcoholism and addiction are recognizable by those who are adequately informed. The clergy are uniquely related to the delivery of appropriate care to the specific needs of those who are stricken because the clergy are sent to search out the sick and needy and to minister to them.

The nature of the disease of addiction is such that those who are its victims are incapable of recognizing the severity of their symptoms. Clergy and laity alike must learn enough about what the disease looks like, how it manifests, and what its impacts are, so that an effective pastoral response can be made and meaningful support offered.

Get acquainted with recovering people in your parish; find out what Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs are; know about treatment facilities in your community; locate resources.

Encourage an informed congregation. Start a Recovery Ministries Commission

How do we support recovery?

Schedule recovery events such as talks in your education program by recovering people.

Insure that clergy are knowledgeable about alcoholism and substance abuse, symptoms, intervention, and treatment. This includes knowledge about the increasing problem of prescription drug/pain killer addiction.

Plan and implement an educational effort in your parish so that every person knows some basic facts about alcoholism and addiction and its terrible cost to affected individuals, families, the Church and society.

Make sure everyone knows this is a disease, not a moral failing.

And do this:

You and your parish become an active, participating member of Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church.

What is Recovery Sunday?

Recovery Sunday is a celebration of the deliverance by God’s grace of persons who have been imprisoned by a punishing and bewildering illness.

Many nonprofits share their missions with St. Paul’s.

Some contribute financially for shared space; others use space for free or provide free services to St. Paul’s, such as harpsicord tuning or advertising in community newsletters. We are blessed to have such a beautiful facility and volunteers to help manage and oversee the use and stewardship of the building at St. Paul’s.

This year we welcome back Classical Conversations (a Christian home school association) on Monday during the day, and Our TreeHouse on Monday and Tuesday nights (Our TreeHouse provides resources and support to children, teens, and their families who are grieving a death. They have two support groups: one for families and one for teens.) Our TreeHouse will also share office space in Room 203 Mondays and Thursdays.

They join Maple Alley Café, which serves breakfast on Tuesday mornings in the Old Parish Hall to those who are hungry and homeless in our community.

In addition, we will welcome Whatcom Learning Lab (which offers tutoring assistance for dyslexic and reading challenged learners) on Monday and Wednesday afternoons in the OPH.

Other nonprofits using space at St. Paul’s include:

  • Bellingham Chamber Chorale

  • Columbia Neighborhood Association

  • Oldtimers AA

  • Salish Sea Early Music Festival

  • Whatcom Chorale

  • Community Resource Network

  • Maple Alley Inn/The Opportunity Council

  • WhatKnots Quilting Group

  • 4th Corner Rug Hookers

  • NW Church Librarians

  • Bellingham Friends

  • Girl Scouts

  • Peace Corps

  • Faith Community Nursing/Parish Nursing Program.

  • Old Town Thanksgiving Meal

  • Venture

  • Skookum Kids

  • Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center

  • Homeless Support Coordinators, Whatcom County School district

  • SOS men’s group (AA)

  • Rotary Clubs of Whatcom County

  • Columbia Neighborhood Association

In addition to sharing space, we often share announcements, volunteer opportunities, and opportunities to support these and other nonprofit community partners, such as Interfaith Coalition on this website.

We hope these nonprofits will have your prayers and support as they start up this fall, especially those we are fortunate to host at St. Paul’s.  

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD)

Episcopal Relief & Development works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs that utilize local resources and expertise. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities rebuild after disasters and develop long-term strategies to create a thriving future. In 2014-15, the organization joins Episcopalians and friends in celebrating 75 Years of Healing a Hurting World.

ERD Website

Angel Tree - Salvation Army

The goal of the Angel Tree program is to get new toys and clothing into the hands of needy Children during the holiday season. Families who are eligible to participate in the program submit requests for items that each child in the household needs to the Salvation Army in advance of the holiday season.

The Salvation Army relies on St. Paul's to display angel trees in the back of the church. An angel ornament is made for each child that includes details about the requested items. Each ornament includes the first name of the child who will benefit from the donations, his or her gender, and their age. The angels may also include clothing and shoe sizes, particular items requested, and other information.

Salvation Army Angel Tree

Gifts donated by St. Paulites for Christmas 2016. Way to go!

Gifts donated by St. Paulites for Christmas 2016. Way to go!

Maple Alley (opportunity council)

Feeding the Hungry

St. Paul's parishioners prepare and serve hot, home cooked meals on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church (2750 McLeod Rd., Bellingham) and on Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at St. Paul’s Episcopal Old Parish Hall (2117 Walnut Street, Bellingham, across from the main church).

(360) 734-5121 (Whatcom County)

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County offers a hand-up, not a hand-out, to families striving for a path out of poverty.  We work in partnership with low-income families to build simple, decent homes where they can live and grow into all that God intends.

We volunteer, donate, advocate, pray, and work in partnership with our community.

With hands and hearts, hammers and nails, we are building a world where everyone has a safe, decent, affordable home. Join us!


Habitat for Humanity Whatcom County

Interfaith Coalition

We are 44 member congregations and the community working for healthcare and homes for all. Our housing keeps homeless families together.

Severe Weather Shelters provide refuge for people who stay outside until the weather is too harsh.

We distribute 3,000 coats annually throughout the county and founded the Interfaith Community Health Center.

We are of the community, for the community.

Interfaith Opportunities
to Make a Difference

Interfaith Coalition has opportunities for you to make a difference in the lives of your Whatcom County neighbors. This summer they could use help doing exterior maintenance and repairs on their houses and would welcome with things like: painting, tree/brush trimming, mowing, general carpentry, etc. Skilled or not skilled – you can help! Knitters can begin making hats and scarves for Project Warm Up to distribute this winter, or donate yarn for others to do so.

Kids Need Books distributes books to low-income families in Bellingham and the county, and your donations of new or gently-used kids’ books will help many kids avoid the “summer learning slide.”  Call Interfaith at 734-3983, or email  for more info to donate, volunteer, or learn more. 

In addition, Interfaith helps collect items for Project Homeless Connect, a community one-day event in Bellingham, that brings immediate access to services for the homeless.  Giveaway items needed are: hygiene items, new socks and underwear, blankets, sleeping bags, tarps, tents, backpacks, shoes, towels, diapers, baby wipes and formula.  To volunteer, contact the Whatcom Volunteer Center at 734-3055.

Interfaith Coalition

Hope House Bellingham

Hope House is family to those who need our services. We are a place where people feel valued and welcome.

We are a community within our greater community and we are proud of it! Our clients love coming in and being greeted by name, they like that we know who their children are and what they are up to.

They love the teasing and laughter they find to go give them armor to face the rest of their day.

At this time of year, to borrow a phrase, “Hope House is one of the happiest places on earth!”


Hope House Bellingham