“We’ve always put a social stigma on alcoholism,” he said Tuesday. “Recently we’ve come to know it as a disease.”
Garner’s church, St. Simon Peter Episcopal, plays host to an organization attempting to treat that disease — the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meets there Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7 p.m.
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism,” says “Doug,” a local organizer of the group who wished to maintain his anonymity for tradition’s sake. “There is a plethora of information available on societal problems facing us daily, as a result of the disease of alcoholism: broken homes, broken bodies and broken lives are rampant in our nation because of this dreaded problem.”
Doug’s goal in reaching out is to spread the word about the program taking place at the church, which he calls “non-smoking and quite private in its locale.”
“AA is not a religious program,” he said. “It is spiritually based, as alcohol is but a symptom of a much deeper lying spiritual disease.”
Garner said his congregation has responded positively to the presence of the AA meetings, which have met their year for almost a year.
“They’ve adapted very well,” he said. “They’ve been very welcoming and embracing.
“In fact, recently we had a funeral here at the church, and the AA group was meeting here at the same time. Our congregates invited them over, offered them food, that kind of thing. It’s one of the ways we can reach out to people in our community.”
Garner added that there is “no cure” for the disease of alcoholism, but Alcoholics Anonymous is an effective method of treatment.
“It’s something that puts people in charge of their own destiny again,” he said.