PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio – The recent news the opioid epidemic has been officially called a public health emergency doesn’t surprise Vineyard Cleveland Pastor Eben Brusco, who has been watching his congregation struggle with heroin addiction.
The church is hoping to shed light on the subject with a Heroin Memorial Service taking place at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 inside of its York Road building.
“This is for anyone who has been impacted by the opioid epidemic,” Brusco said. “It’ll be a short, one-hour service. We’ll create some space for people to pray, grieve. It won’t be preachy. We’re just going to raise awareness and provide a space for people to heal.”
The Pastor said throughout Northeast Ohio nearly two dozen churches will be holding similar Heroin Memorial Service events. Recently local church leaders attended a luncheon in which Brusco said state and federal officials noted a drastic shift in language regarding the issue.
“Instead of hearing phrases like the ‘war on drugs,’ you’re hearing things like, ‘We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,'” Brusco said. “The scope is too big. Instead of terms like criminals, you’re hearing them say folks are victims of this drug.”
For the last two and a half years, Brusco and his pastor wife, Sarah, have seen firsthand the opioid epidemic’s wrath in Parma Heights where they’ve been called to visit overdosed users in the hospital.
“We’ve set up a once-a-month thing where people from the church will go to addicts in recovery and share a meal with them,” Brusco said. “Locally here in Parma Heights we do our best to connect with recovery centers and nonprofits already doing great work.
“Also, our relationship with Mayor Byrne has been really good. We’re working with the mayor’s office looking for other ways to engage the issue.”
“This horrific opioid epidemic knows no boundaries and leaves tragedy in its wake,” Parma Heights Mayor Michael P. Byrne said. “Parma Heights is this week celebrating Red Ribbon Week to encourage a drug-free lifestyle and involvement in drug prevention and reduction efforts.
“I fully support the upcoming service planned by Pastor Brusco and Vineyard Cleveland for individuals and families in our community.”
Whereas years ago a drug habit may have been a family’s dirty little secret not to be shared outside the confines of a home, today’s opioid epidemic finds community members actively seeking help for loved ones.
“We want to come alongside people and not shame them for what they’ve done in the past or for any way that this issue has affected or impacted their family,” Brusco said. “We want to create a safe place.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.cleveland.com/parma/index.ssf/2017/10/parma_heights_church_to_host_h.html