In 2018, having recently observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation together, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Southern Ohio Synod were looking for ways to worship and minister together. When the opioid epidemic hit Ohio particularly hard in the summer of 2018, churches were left grappling with how to respond. So a Lutheran-Roman Catholic task force was set up with the goal of helping congregations respond to the opioid epidemic.
What resulted from that was a training session on how the church can be a help to those affected by addiction. “The Addiction Crisis: A Catholic and Lutheran Response” was a day-long training session for clergy and lay people. Prayer and worship were core parts of the day, as well as concrete steps congregations could take when someone is hurting because of substance use disorder. Since that day, a number of congregations have taken on new roles in their communities to help respond to the addiction crisis. God’s Spirit has been working mightily for the common good through the task force, the training event, and those who attended.
The partnership continues, especially through the pandemic, as more and more people turn to opioids and other forms of drugs to deal with the stress of these unprecedented times, in addition to limited in-person counseling and support services for those who were in treatment. The most recent workshop was held this summer via Zoom, paving the way for more discussion and concrete ways we can work together to serve the communities in which we minister.