January 4, 2024 at 4:45 p.m.

Casting Light on Darkness: Local Pastor Set to Launch Hope-Based Recovery Program

Steps leading from a dark place into light.
Steps leading from a dark place into light.
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

By JENN WILLHITE | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Beginning in just a few weeks, Hope Wesleyan Church, located at 733 Washington St., will begin offering Unbound Recovery, a free, weekly meeting designed for people from all backgrounds who are being affected by the pressures of life’s tests and traumas, including, but not limited to, addiction – in whatever form that may take, and need a safe space and community to support them in their journey of recovery.   

Over the course of his work with the addiction population, local Pastor John Marquis has partnered with a number of different agencies within the social work milieu to help make a positive community impact.

“I got a real heart for it,” Marquis says. “I’m in recovery myself.”  

Simply put, the culmination of those experiences were the genesis of Unbound Recovery – a faith-based curriculum modelled after the traditional 12-Steps, but developed and designed over the past couple of years by Marquis.

“It is something this town needs and the ministerial association agrees,” Marquis says.

What the organization will do to “walk alongside” Unbound Recovery as it grows, though, is yet to be defined.

“God just put it on my heart and gave me the information,” Marquis says. “I just put it together and went with it. I know I needed something like this and I know that other people do, too.” 

The admitted “big leap of faith” resulted in an Unbound Recovery pilot program launched by Marquis in partnership with Pastor Jeff Moore, of Westport Wesleyan Church, at the Westport church in November 2022. 

As with any meeting of its nature, it takes time to simultaneously get the word out, build interest and attendance, the pastors discovered.

The initial launch was sparsely met but, as word spread, attendance increased; however, notably absent was the addiction population. People attending to heal from other forms of life’s stressors, like divorce and relationship issues, made up the majority. But, as time went on, Marquis says there was a huge increase in the addiction population, and it continues to grow.   

“Every soul matters,” Marquis says. “I am going to be out here grinding and hustling and hoping that people understand that they are important. It doesn’t matter where they are.”

Moore believes the program had the effect it was designed to have. The faith-based project is a welcomed tool in the rural community he ministers to, he says.

“As we all know, our smaller farming communities are battling a lot of drugs and addiction and things,” Moore says. “I’ve been at this for 24 years as a pastor. I’ve never seen a greater need everywhere I go, every single week that I am out in our community – I’m faced with the problems we have. The worst thing to do is bury someone who is 25 years old and I’ve done a lot of that.”

As of the writing of this article, regular Unbound Recovery meeting attendance at the Westport Sunday night offering ranges from 36 to 40 people, Marquis says. Participants have varied in age from 18 years old to 76 years young. And they come from all walks of life, he emphasizes.

“It is literally for everybody,” Marquis says.

One can either curse the darkness for all the pain and hurt it brings, or one can be a light and hold fast in faith that darkness can be overcome by that light, Moore adds.

For Moore, it is important that the community not see this as “just a pastoral or church program,” he says. He simply wants them to understand that when they attend, they’re surrounded by faith-based people.

When designing the Unbound Recovery program, Marquis and Moore were mindful to adjust a few things to make the meetings adaptable to diverse community settings and needs. Part and parcel to those changes was an intentional low-boundary, conversational approach to the two-hour weekly meeting.

A testimonial opens the meeting and plans for the next 90 days are discussed, Marquis says.

“Someone gives testimony about how their life has been changed wherever they are in their walk,” Marquis says. “We break down the 12 Steps and spend four weeks on each step.”

The group works together as a collective for one hour and then breaks for coffee. Small groups branch off for talk and conversation to close the meeting.

“It is applicable in anyone’s life,” Marquis says.

When the Hope offering launches – tentatively set for Tuesday evenings beginning in February – there will be on-site childcare available, and attendees only need to bring themselves.

“We don’t expect to know anything that you aren’t willing to share with us," Marquis says. "We just want to meet at the intersection of your life.”

For more information about Unbound Recovery click HERE.