Rob Nash broke nine out of the 10 Commandments in the Bible by the time he was 19. Years later, three days into living at a rehabilitation center for his substance use disorder, he said he felt abandoned by God. Now, 70 years old and on the cusp of a 34-year sobriety anniversary, he’s guided by a god who is loving and understanding.

“That’s a miracle,” Nash said as he choked up.

Nash, Chuck Blair and Mary Haney spoke to our class on Thursday about the intersection between religion and recovery. They’re all members of New Church Live, a Montgomery County-based church that hosts live-streamed sermons every Sunday and group meetings during the week. The church presents an annual sermon focused on addiction, which Blair said about 200 people attend.

Haney spoke about her child’s addiction and her struggling relationship with God during that time. To give back, she visits Kensington to give out “blessing bags” filled with items like bagged snacks, socks and cards with information about local recovery resources. Blair, the church’s pastor, talked about what it’s like serving and working with people affected by addiction, which often resorts to “just loving them,” he said.

I’ve been thinking about how recovery and religion relate to one another since the beginning of this class, so I was interested in this talk. I really appreciated the speakers’ sharing their stories — especially Nash’s transparency about his struggle with religion (and his laughter when I described him as “religious”). I wish, however, that we could’ve heard more about the concrete results of the annual sermon. Another thing I still want to learn more about regarding this topic is how religion is engrained in 12-steps’ criteria, like Alcoholic Anonymous, and the benefits and pitfalls of programs like that.