Winchester pastor says 'the church' must fight opioid addiction

Published: Aug. 5, 2018 at 5:27 PM EDT
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As the opioid epidemic spreads across Central Kentucky, one pastor in Winchester is using the pulpit to fight back.

"This is a spiritual warfare, and who is better to fight a spiritual warfare than the church? It's time for us to quit standing still and do something," said Chris Williams, pastor of Epperson First Church of God.

During a Sunday morning church service, Williams asked three speakers to share their stories of how opioid addiction has impacted their lives.

"This year I lost my brother to an overdose," said former narcotics detective and KSP Sgt. Bret Kirkland, as he told the congregation that opioid abuse has lead to an increase in heroin addiction.

Kentucky State House Representative James Tipton explained that religious communities can help target the problem.

"Christ created the church so that we can be there for each other. I think this is a great ministry opportunity for the church and communities to work together alongside the state and federal governments."

Kelli Schooler, 33, has been sober for six years after an eleven-year addiction to opiates.

"I was in and out of jail with multiple arrests, multiple charges," said Schooler.

She told church members that there is hope in overcoming addiction.

"It's hard, but the main thing is to keep hope. Change everything about your life, the people you're around, the environment you put yourself in, and the lifestyle that it entails. You can't be sober and still hang out with people that want to steal or sell drugs. Just keep at it. If you fail, get back up."