December 2020 FRLC Board Minutes

FRLC Board Meeting Minutes

Thursday, December 10, 2020

1:00 pm MST/2:00 pm CST/12:00 pm PST/3:00 pm EST

            Present: Otto, Paul, Melanie, Tom, Ed. Karen, Roger, Michelle. Karen opened in prayer.

Minutes from Previous Meeting were approved.

            Treasurer’s report: As of December 1,the FRLC Account is $1545.75, up from the previous balance of $1481.88. The Addiction & Faith Conference account is $48,483.81. The previous balance was $49,551.60. The main expense was a $1000 deposit for the DoubleTree Inn. The Center of Addiction & Faith balance is $10,758. The letter was received from the IRS stating that the application for 501c3 status for the Center was approved. The funds for the Center and the Conference will be separated from the FRLC account, although there will be the ability to transfer between them. Ed’s stipend for the FRLC is being paid from the Conference account, which will no longer be associated with the FRLC.  MSP (Tom, Otto) that Ed’s stipend of $300/month be paid from the FRLC account. We will need to raise funds to continue to do so. It was also approved to separate the Center and Conference accounts from the FRLC.

            Coordinator’s report Ed’s last Sunday at Transfiguration Lutheran Church was November 29. His office is in his home now, with phone, internet, etc. set up for the Center of Addiction and Faith.   The Center sent a year-end fund-raising appeal went to 1000 people, and an additional 1500 letters will go out by email. They are paying for a marketing firm to roll out the Center to 44,000 clergy of various denominations. Al Dungan is coordinating daily devotions for the CAF website.  He needs writers. Send your devotions sharing your experience, strength and hope to him.

            Ed is working with Tim King, a CAF board member and a keynote speaker for the next Conference on social media marketing. The website for the Center is up and running.

            Ed has a meeting scheduled with 3 seminary professors & one CPE instructor (one of whom is a member of the FRLC) to work on defining core competencies in addiction ministry. They plan to develop training based on these core competencies and make it available to seminaries.

            The referral list on the CAF app for Montana is quite limited and doesn’t have the largest, most frequently used treatment centers on it. This list will be addressed at a later date. Ed would like to include a list of “recovery friendly” churches on the website and app. He would get a list of those churches by contacting the Synods. Otto reported that Faith Partners in Nebraska is working on developing standards for recovery friendly churches that might be helpful in setting this up. The Center is planning another Faith Partners training and have funding to cover up to 50% of the cost for congregations to participate. Minneapolis Synod churches have priority for that funding, but if they do not use it all it would be available to churches in other areas.

            There is a new 12 step all recovery meeting for anyone from mainline churches. Former FRLC Board member Joel Richter is hosting it. Nine people came to the first meeting, which was last Sunday. Ed has gotten positive feedback on it and put meeting ID and announcement for church bulletins in the chat page. It is:

Sunday night weekly All 12-Step meeting 7 p.m. Central

A 12-Step Zoom meeting for mainline Christians. This meeting is open to anyone in 12-Step recovery of any kind and for those interested in learning more about 12-Step recovery. Hosted by the Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy and by the Center of Addiction and Faith, this meeting is offered every Sunday night at 6 pm Mountain Time (8 p.m. Eastern ). All are welcome.

            The RMEC, the Episcopal group, would like to have a recovery meeting for clergy. A format needs to be developed and a process for screening worked out to confirm that potential participants are actually clergy. Bohdan offered to work with Steve Lane to develop it.

            Ed has recorded 6 or 7 interviews for the podcast and would like to interview you! They will air every other week beginning in January.

            A webinar scheduled for January on decriminalizing drugs. Al Sharp will be the presenter. The last one was in October.

            Remember to use Ed’s new email:

Old/New Business:

Our guest, Jane Clark, was unable to be with us. Otto and Ed met with her in November. She intended to be with us today to continue working on our mission statements etc. Jane is a grant writer who works to help non-profits get started. She has a good success rate and is willing to work with us and prepare a grant application for us. Her management team approved this, which means they perceive us as capable enough and the idea strong enough to invest their time in. The organization helps launch non-profits for no cost, making their money providing training, evaluations, etc. which are required by and funded by the grants. Otto met her through a workshop she led for the national association of drug and alcohol counselors.

Jane asked us to discuss the following questions:

  1. If you could wave a magic wand and in 5 years, what would the FRLC be and do. What you think it’s ideal purpose is? What does that look like?  (Organizationally; members, staffing; volunteers; funding; purpose; services; etc.) 
  1. Now describe where FRLC is now (organizationally, members, staffing, volunteers, funding, purpose, services. Etc.).

Otto led this discussion.

Mission Statement: we adopted the following draft Mission Statement at the last meeting, “to be used to guide our work and be presented at the next annual meeting for adoption: Guided by the Spirit, FRLC brings together Lutheran clergy to strengthen and advocate for recovery through mutual support.” We are free to modify it as needed.

Recovery Community Organization. (RCO): Michelle asked if we are an RCO. Illinois has funds for such organizations. She forwarded this definition of them and will send information on the funding that might be available through this route.

A recovery community organization (RCO) is an independent, non-profit organization led and governed by representatives of local communities of recovery. RCOs organize recovery-focused policy advocacy activities, carry out recovery-focused community education and outreach programs, and/or provide peer-based recovery support services.

The broadly defined recovery community–people in long-term recovery, their families, friends and allies, including recovery-focused addiction and recovery professionals–includes organizations whose members reflect religious, spiritual and secular pathways of recovery. The sole mission of an RCO is to mobilize resources within and outside of the recovery community to increase the prevalence and quality of long-term recovery from substance use disorders. Public education, policy advocacy and peer-based recovery support services are the strategies through which this mission is achieved.”

What would we like to have happen in five years?

  • All seminary students and faculty would know who we are and what we do. We would be introduced to all seminary students, even briefly, perhaps through a 2-3 minute video that could be included in digital newsletters.
  •  Every Pastor in ELCA would know that we are a resource if they need help with a personal/family addiction issue. Conversation continued regarding whether this includes family members of addicted or alcoholic clergy and congregations.
  • The guests we invited to the visioning retreat at Mt. Olivet (outside of Minneapolis) to help us initiate the first Addiction & Faith Conference were astounded that we existed and said we have so much unrealized potential. They encouraged us to realize that before reaching out to others, saying we should focus on clergy in recovery before branching out.
  • The work has a bigger purpose: to share what we have with other organizations. There is an enormous need across denominations for clergy support. We want to keep the Lutheran piece and believe there is a place for each denomination to have their own group within a larger framework of recovering clergy.
  • Visibility in other seminaries, not just Lutheran ones.
  • A robust website with information for clergy and lively, interactive Facebook and Instagram pages. An array of online meetings, specific to various addictions such as ACOA, sexual addiction, etc.
  • Funds to allow us to advertise. A consistent marketing strategy. This could include: Rewriting, updating and relaunching our book and stories.  Synod-specific brochure with resources available to them. Printed material available at every synod assembly. Regular contact with all clergy.
  • A resource list of trained clergy sponsors.  Also vetted counselors and intervention specialists. A professionally hosted online therapy group. 
  • Regional representation on the board bringing the information back to their area.
  • The Impaired Professionals program for clergy would be implemented and connected with Portico and treatment centers that serve clergy.
  • A larger, updated data base. 
  • Ongoing training opportunities on addiction and recovery and guidelines for core competencies for clergy regarding addiction. Seminary classes are on addiction and wellbeing in ministry. 
  • Full time staff with admin support. 
  • Multiple events like the retreats where “the magic happens” in different parts of the country. Our strength is the power of one recovering pastor talking to another.
  • An effective flexible structure.

Where we are now:

  • We depend on Ed for most of the work.
  • The database is out-of-date.
  • We have tried things in the past, including outreach to and presentations at the seminaries and contact with the Bishops. When we have accomplished them, we consider it done, rather than recognizing these need to be continuous activities.
  • The 12 Step meetings we have for clergy have been a lifeline for participants. We have people committed to lead the meetings and a schedule.
  • We have mailed and emailed newsletters to the membership and Synods.
  • Retreats for recovering Lutheran clergy have been an essential activity.
  • The meetings, retreats and board each serve a handful of people who have become like a club, with close relationships but a small reach. 
  • The FRLC launched the Addiction & Faith Conference, which in turn gave birth to the Center of Addiction and Faith. These are big achievements but took all our time and energy for several years. However, these two events have now infused us with new energy to be relevant and significant.

How do we move forward? Otto and Ed will meet with Jane Clark in January.

Our next meeting: Wednesday January 6 at the regular time: 2:00 pm MST/3:00 pm CST/1:00 pm PST/4:00 pm EST

Paul closed in prayer.