Rob Nash, 70, is two months away from celebrating his 34th year living sober and clean. “May 14, 1983,” Nash was emotional as recalled the date his family staged an intervention to save his life. A self-described “successful addict,” Nash has dedicated his time to helping others struggling with addiction since entering long-term recovery. Mary Haney is an active recovery advocate whose son passed from his addiction four years ago. She encourages love as the most important response to addiction, regardless of the challenge. Loving a family member with addiction, Haney said, is like “being thrown in a fishbowl without knowing how to swim.” Haney and Nash were brought together not by fate, but by Pastor Chuck Blair of the New Church Live. Blair says the church was created seven years ago, and is built on the strength of small group meetings as supplements to large worship services. The structure of New Church Live was intentionally created to be bottom up instead of top down, and so the smaller groups often meet without Blair’s supervision. A congregation of 800, Blair describes the general attendance at 232 weekly, with others using the church’s streaming service to tune-in.
Haney and Nash meet with other families affected by addiction in smaller groups during the year, but New Church Live’s largest effort in recovery advocacy is the annual addiction-related service. Efforts in planning the service span through the year, and includes perspectives from families of people in recovery, people in recovery, and professionals in the field of addiction services. Blair also cited the presence of nonprofits with recovery-related services at prior iterations of the special service. Recovery, Blair said, has become a large part of his ministry’s goal. He highlighted the importance of learning one another’s stories in order to relate to one another, saying that religion at it’s core is about reconnecting with people. New Church Live encourages dialogue and relationships, “from people who are deeply blessed to people who are deeply broken,” Blair said.