St. Mary’s Innovative Recovery Eucharist Brings 12 Step Program into a Traditional Episcopal Communion Service

Combining ancient scripture, centuries-old liturgy of sacrament and the more-recent language of 12 Step meetings, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Bonita Springs held a unique Recovery Eucharist for the first time on Tuesday March 10, 2015. “The Recovery Eucharist is open to everyone, from any denomination or no denomination, with a special invitation to anyone who is struggling with addiction or whose loved ones may be struggling,” said the Rector of St. Mary’s. “Nearly everyone has been touched by the destructive power of addiction, and in this service we name the one Higher Power who alone can bring peace to those in its grip,” he said. The innovative service brings the 12 Step recovery program into the traditional liturgy of the Episcopal Church, using the steps and the famous Serenity Prayer as part of the service. The result is both moving and liberating, a celebration of the victory of God’s eternal grace over the brutal power of addiction.

The Episcopal Church’s relationship with the 12 Steps to Recovery goes back to 1935, when an Episcopal priest, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, worked with Bill W. and Dr. Bob S. to develop the organization that is known today as Alcoholics Anonymous. AA, in turn, became the model for numerous other addiction-recovery programs that are based on the same original 12 Steps. The 12 Steps themselves are based on ancient Christian spiritual guidance designed to help all people turn away from all that holds them captive and to grow into the true freedom for which Christ has set us free. Everyone seeking God’s grace to live a healthier, more authentic life benefits from taking part. The Recovery Eucharist is an open-door, come-as-you are service to celebrate sobriety and to pray for peace for those struggling with alcoholism and other addictions in themselves or their loved ones. All are welcome.