Religious leaders taking new approach to battle opioid epidemic
In recent years, local religious leaders have found themselves called to serve in an unexpected role: First responders to the emotional toll of the opioid epidemic and the mental health issues entwined with it.
That is why two local members of the religious community, Bishop Chorrethers Jenkins of Grace Evangelistic Temple Church on the West Side and Bill Morvay, staff pastor at Metro Assembly of God on the South Side, hope to provide training and resources to help faith leaders respond to their congregants’ needs.
Mr. Jenkins and Morvay, both of whom serve on the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, plan to launch the Association of Faith-Based Services. They envision it as an organization of faith-based partners that, aided by resources from local social services agencies, will meet the “spiritual, social and cultural needs of the community.”
“The faith-based community has a voice in the Valley,” Morvay said. “There are people who belong to churches and faith-based institutions who typically wouldn’t seek help anywhere else, except for those that they’re familiar with. We believe that by creating an association in Youngstown and the surrounding area, and if we all stand as one voice against this and educate and train our people, we’ll have a greater impact.”
“I’m from the old school. The old school would not dare let you go to a counselor, because we just thought, if God can’t do it, it can’t be done,” Mr. Jenkins said. “That’s true, but at the same time it’s because we didn’t understand. Now, to see how many people are addicted inside the church, outside the church – the church is taking a different look at what’s going on around us.”
Read more about the new effort in Thursday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.