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News media following #GC78 attention to addiction and alcoholism

News media following #GC78 attention to addiction and alcoholism

The media noted the attention General Convention is giving to addiction and alcoholism in light of the tragedy of the Heather Cook criminal case.


Leaders of the Episcopal General Convention, meeting in Salt Lake City, put the topic on the agenda after the criminal case against Heather Cook drew national attention. Cook, who has been defrocked, has pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving and other charges.

In committee meetings Thursday, Episcopal leaders discussed updating the denomination’s guidance on alcohol use and abuse, which hasn’t been changed since 1985. Those guidelines suggest clergy and lay people educate themselves on pastoral support for substance abusers in the church, encourage moderate consumption of alcohol and suggest providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at parish events.

“Thirty years has passed. There are certainly new discoveries, new understandings in the field of addiction,” said the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, the convention voting body for clergy and lay people. Jennings, who formed the special convention committee on substance abuse, said the review could also look at “how we might approach our selection and recruitment and formation of leaders.”

Posted by Andrew Gerns


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Diane Corlett

There is no reason to serve alcoholic beverages at parish functions. As a simple matter of hospitality to our parishioners who are, or should be in recovery for alcohol addiction, it seems to be a small thing simply to serve only non alcoholic beverages. There is also the matter of risk aversion for the parish. If anyone drove away from a parish function and was subsequently involved in a vehicular accident because of having consumed alcohol there, it is likely that subsequent lawsuits could find the parish at least partially liable for the resulting damages, injuries or deaths. Let’s make our parishes safe places for everyone.

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