Communities Prepping For Day of Hope

WHEELING — Area congregations are being encouraged to incorporate the West Virginia Day of Hope into worship services and activities next weekend.

Several community-wide activities also are planned Saturday, Sept. 15, for Wheeling’s observance of Day of Hope, an event dedicated to substance abuse prevention and recovery from addiction. Youth Services System and the Community Impact Coalition are coordinating local events.

Individual faith communities may use Day of Hope resources from Friday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 16, to promote awareness and understanding.

Day of Hope started in Wheeling in 2015. The West Virginia Council of Churches later became a partner in the project, leading to “massive growth in community participation” throughout the state, said Vivienne Padilla, chair of the Community Impact Coalition.

The West Virginia Council of Churches has prepared a litany for the observance. The council and the Community Impact Coalition have other resources available to promote substance abuse prevention and recovery from addiction.

Rabbi Joshua Lief of Temple Shalom said the Jewish congregation will use the Council of Churches’ Day of Hope liturgy during Sabbath services on Friday evening, Sept. 14. Other faith communities will be offering special prayers and displays related to Day of Hope at churches.

The Rev. Joel Richter, pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozart, said this year’s theme is “Prevention.” He said houses of worship are encouraged to observe the day according to their own beliefs and missions.

Free, public events in Wheeling on Saturday, Sept. 15, will open at 1 p.m. with a 12-step interfaith service at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 1410 Chapline St. A March of Hope to the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater will begin at 2 p.m. After the walk, a Rally for Hope will take place at the amphitheater until 4 p.m.

Lova Hitt, coordinator for the March of Hope, said walkers will gather in St. Matthew’s parking lot, head north on Chapline Street and continue west on 12th Street to the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater, located at Heritage Port near the playground. She said the rally will feature speakers addressing addiction issues and providing information on treatment centers.

Coinciding with Day of Hope, a memorial spaghetti dinner wil be held at Christ United Methodist Church, 1232 National Road, from 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Will Ruberg Service Scholarship at Wheeling Jesuit University, the House of the Carpenter on Wheeling Island and a new project called Community Made Serenade.

State-wide initiatives have been undertaken by faith communities in response to the opioid crisis.

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, has asked congregations to be trained in the use of naxolone and to keep the opioid overdose-reversing drug in stock. Klusmeyer, who also serves as president of the West Virginia Council of Churches, said the organization has offered educational programs and naxolone training sessions for clergy and community members in the state.

In addition, the Rev. Sandra Steiner Ball, bishop of the United Methodist Church’s West Virginia Conference, has encouraged clergy to educate, raise awareness and discuss addiction-related issues. The Most Rev. Ralph Dunkin, a retired Lutheran bishop from Wheeling, chairs a Community Impact Coalition