Support the Café

Search our Site

West Virginia’s bishop asks churches to prepare for opioid overdoses

West Virginia’s bishop asks churches to prepare for opioid overdoses

Last year, more than 880 people died in West Virginia because of opioid overdoses.

The Rt. Reverend W. Michie Klusmeyer, bishop of West Virginia, asked Episcopal parishes in the diocese to be ready to help in a direct way – by making available and training to use a drug that counteracts overdoses. From the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Klusmeyer made the request last weekend at the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia’s annual convention in Charleston… [asking] Episcopal congregations to have at least one person trained in naloxone administration and to have a kit available in the church building. Klusmeyer said his request isn’t a mandate, but an encouragement.

Klusmeyer, who is also president of the West Virginia Council of Churches, says the invitation is in response to the surrounding community, but also to congregations:

Klusmeyer said the idea is to have naloxone available for members of the surrounding neighborhood who might overdose, but he’s also aware that church members are not exempt from substance abuse problems.

“It’s a human problem, and West Virginia is significantly hard hit,” Klusmeyer said. It’s the role of the church to take a stand and help, he said.

West Virginia Episcopalians aren’t the first to adopt this. From the Episcopal News Service:

Donna Barten, 56, a recently retired research neuroscientist on the outreach committee of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts… organized a Narcan training event at her church in September. Narcan is the brand name for a nasal-spray variety of naloxone, which revives people after they’ve stopped breathing from an opioid overdose. It’s simple and safe to administer, she said. One of Barten’s goals is to enable most of the churches in her diocese, as well as the area’s synagogues and mosques, to have Narcan and know how to use it.

“I’d like us to be a safe place where people can go for help,” Barten said. “Where is the hand of Jesus these days? They’re treated like lepers. This is one way that we can help.”

And churches farther north, in New York and Canada, are also responding to the crisis:

In the Canadian Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, the Rev. Monique Stone, rector of the three-point Parish of Huntley, organized a naloxone workshop at St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church in Ottawa in February for 20 clergy, including diocesan Bishop John Chapman.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Eggertsville, in Buffalo, New York, hosted a free Narcan/naloxone training in April. Offered by the Erie County Department of Health, the session leader was a registered nurse.

Photo from


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café