The Words of the Yakawich Family
Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, Methaphine are some examples of the drugs that induce serious addictions to those in our community. Rolling up our sleeves, seeking input and professional guidance, we explored seriously into these issues of addictions through this Montana American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC). The results were powerful. Amazing information shared, tears shed and bonds strengthened as a group of lay workers, youth, clergy and community members (40 in total) were touched by the insights and education we received by those in professional areas of addictions, ACLC clergy, guests and participants..
On Saturday, April 24th, the MT ACLC delegation hosted the 7th Annual local conference this year on the topic of "Seeking Spiritual Solutions to Addictions in our Community." Our program began with and introduction by Pastor Mike Yakawich and a clear recognition of Rev. Moon as the inspiration of this interfaith organization ACLC. A profound prayer and opening words by Rev. Melvin Terry of the All Nations Christian Church set the tone for a great day ahead.
Kristin Lungrend, a pastor's wife and director of the Roots of Promise part of the United Way gave a statistical breakdown on the illegal drug use and addictions in our county. This was followed by a mental health and social worker addressing homelessness. Carmen Gonzales gave her deep, tearful testimony of her own children's addictions and the pain, dilemma and awareness she gained.
The staff of our conference guided the participants in a World Café and later a break out session. This was a big highlight of our program allowing all to offer input, suggestions, ideas and comments. What makes this conference special is that over the previous months our organizing committee consisted of three ministers and three lay workers who took considerable ownership of this 7th conference.
Our luncheon began with Dr. Dennis Briggs of Chapel of the Diamond Hope introducing the Prayer Vigil now going on every last Saturday of the month for three years which was inspired by one of these ACLC programs Then our keynote speaker was a well know license additions counselor from a pre-release center Passages, Mindy Brookshire. She shared how there are successful programs for addictions that community members can tap into. Other speakers included the importance of prevention and open and honest communication within the family about drugs and drug abuse. Two acronyms were presented that is worth the note which speakers presented to help address addictions. F.R.O.G.: Fully, Rely, On, God and H.O.W.: Honesty, Openness, Willingness
We then were able to gain keen insights into this topic by Mr. Clint Woods who is the General Secretary of UPF for the Northwest District. He touched on Father Moon's goals of one family under God and the value of strong families can counteract the crisis of addictions our country is facing.
The conference included a wonderful luncheon buffet and refreshments. We had Maria Min from Compassionate Communications present music for lunch and the STF team concluded our program with the song "Stand By Me". Both STF members and local youth were vital for the set up and take down of the program plus a great addition as participants this year.
One guest, Jennifer Booth, commented, "I think this has been an outstanding conference. I have listened to everyone talk and now I see and look at things totally different." Gwen Kircher mentioned, "I think the personal aspect made this year more meaningful…more real." Missionary Scott stated, "The very best conference. As a person that has someone in the system from drugs, I think this program today was an on time event. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things and how we need the support of each other. Thank God."
What did we discover? We felt we achieved our goals this year.
(1) Local MT ACLC members appreciate working on community programs,
(2) Working together creates team building among the ACLC members,
(3) We can learn from each other and those working on such issues in the community,
(4) Personally, we always strive in include Father Moon's wisdom and teachings in the conference,
(5) We generate the Holy Spirit more and more to work on other projects in the year such as the 13th Annual March Against Drugs and violence (the largest anti drug one day educational march/program in the state) and the Monthly Prayer Vigil as well as the Annual 9-11 Community Celebration of Life. Although it is hard work, much good comes from our local conference each year.
Remarkably, all our sponsors contributed financially to the program evenly so no church or organization felt any financial burden. The local Billings Gazette reported the on the program that day in their paper. The local ABC affiliate Q2 attended and did an interview which was broadcast that night on the evening news.
We were reminded of Father Moon's words, "The Church should save the area and the country in which it is located." As an ACLC body we realize in order to save your church you must first save your community. Finally, we are thankful for the prayers and guidance of our District leader Rev. Krishnek, Rev. Wiesinger, and the ACLC District Coordinator Minister Isabella Byrne. We are thankful for the local members who toil so wonderfully and faithfully behind the scenes. Finally, with greatest gratitude we thank Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus and our True Family that have always set the model and the standard for us to emulate.