Faith-based organizations join fight against opioid crisis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Leaders from dozens of Mid-South churches put their faith into practice Thursday.

They all came together to learn how the faith-based community can help victims of the opioid crisis.

"When you look at the opioid hotspots in the city, churches are in the middle of all that," said Reverend Cynthia Davis.

That's why Rev. Davis at Memphis's Christ United Methodist Church said the religious community can't turn a blind eye to the opioid crisis anymore.

"There is a tremendous stigma related to having a family member that has a drug issue," Davis said.

Christ Church spearheaded the seminar Thursday at the University of Memphis with religious leaders from across the city.

Participants from area churches sat at tables with representatives from the nearest Memphis police precinct aimed at creating collaboration and sending the message that churches are a safe place.

Davis said she's found herself on the front lines of the crisis when members have come to her for help.

"There are children and grandchildren and people who have lots of money, no money, lots of education, and no education, people who live in the finest places and people who have no places," Davis said. "It affects everyone."

The latest statistics from the state of Tennessee show opioid deaths have nearly doubled in Shelby County since 2012, up to 150 in 2016.

Officials have said the whole state is facing a severe opioid crisis.

"You know we're all church people on Sunday. but we've got to be willing to be church people the rest of the week," said Bobby Crenshaw at Christ United Methodist Church. "And we've got to be able to make a difference."

Bobby Crenshaw volunteers as part of a homeless ministry in North Memphis. He's part of a team that just became naloxone certified to better serve those on the streets.

"Obviously if we come across someone that's overdosed, we can help them. we can save their lives," Crenshaw said.

Christ United Methodist Church sent participants home with a binder of materials.

It's a one-stop resource guide they can use in their own congregations to help provide resources to someone in their church who may be fighting an addiction.

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