Continued from page 2

Bay City resident Jim Lynch said he does struggle, and the group is part of his weekly routine, alongside an AA meeting in Bay City afterward. When he spoke to The Saginaw News, Lynch said he was 10 years sober.

“Every week now, it’s like I have a goal. If I’m tempted…I’ve got accountability in my life, whereas before I was just out there,” he said.

Holli Carter said that dynamic is what makes many residents at the 1016 House in Midland attend Culbertson’s services. A 20-bed residential facility for those struggling with addiction, 1016 has played a role in the Midland community for more than 30 years, Carter, residential program manager at the group running the home, said Restoration Fellowship makes a big impact on its residents.

“Over the last year, I think I could count on one hand, maybe a couple of fingers, the clients who didn’t want to attend,” she said. “It’s so well received because it’s not threatening. It’s been a very cool partnership.”

Clients who want to attend the service are driven there every Saturday, Carter said.

“There’s a moral judgment placed on people who struggle with chemical addiction,” she said. “The church can often be viewed by people as a place of condemnation.

“We all as human beings are searching for an answer and what’s going to fill the hole. This program gives (clients) a chance when they never before may have had the chance to take things apart and look at themselves, and I think that creates a longing.”

Tige Culbertson first visited the 1016 house to attend the group’s “spiritual rap,” where clergy members come to the facility and residents ask questions. When Restoration Fellowship launched, he made an offer to bring residents to Messiah Lutheran.

“He’s been very open about his own journey and recovery,” Carter said. “Because he does that, because he is so open about that, that often provides an avenue and an open door for our clients that otherwise wouldn’t be there. When a person’s willing to show their flaws, another person is more willing to show their own.”

As for Culbertson, he describes his church as a success that comes with its own challenges.

“Every day is an exercise in the extremes,” he said. “We go from extreme lows, as people relapse or fall back into old behaviors or walk away, and then we celebrate extreme highs,” like a Nov. 21 service that saw 12 baptisms.

“It’s the individual stories of life stage and making inroads into recovery that they never dreamed was possible before, and integrating peoples’ recovery with Jesus.”

At the service, Culbertson continued speaking into the dark, his voice rising and falling with the passion behind his message.

“When you have a tremendous debt,” he said, “you’re so much more grateful for what God has done with you.”


Story Continues →