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Faith leaders will focus on racial unity at ‘lunch and learn’

Racial unity has to be a part of battling the drug epidemic in this country, according to some of those fighting in the trenches. So the first Pastor’s Lunch and Learn series of 2019 in Boyle County will confront the issue head on.

The quarterly meeting, sponsored by The Hope Network and Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP), is titled “The Church and Racial Unity” and will be held Tuesday, Jan. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Danville Church of God, located at 516 S. Fourth The event is free, but pre-registration is required for lunch by Jan. 10 by emailing Kathy Miles at kathy.miles@centre.edu.

On the surface, it may not seem as though racial unity is a way to fight addiction, but it’s a very important aspect of the battle, said Gary Chidester, one of the organizers of the meeting.

“We can’t deal with addiction until there’s some trust regardless of color or nationality,” Chidester said. “We’re never going to get where we need to be with our addiction until young people in the county don’t see color or race.”

He said some people in this community don’t trust anyone who isn’t of their same race or ethnic backgrounds. And if those same people are falling behind in school or are in trouble for drug addiction, they also have a hard time trusting that someone of another race wants to help them.

Kathy Miles, coordinator of ASAP, said addiction and incarceration have gone hand-in-hand over the years. And within that cycle, there are issues related to racial discrimination involving the criminal justice system, access to treatment and recovery support. “Once you start digging into the backstories … it’s so complicated,” Miles said.

The Rev. Ralph Smith will be one of the speakers at the event. The drug epidemic “is not being an all black issue or all white issue. It’s on both lines,” Smith said.

According to Miles, the Pastors Lunch and Learn Series grew out of the Faith Leaders Conference on substance use disorders, which was held in the spring of 2017. The series of topics are to help pastors and other faith leaders learn how to help with substance abuse and mental health issues in their communities.

SO YOU KNOW

All quarterly Pastors Lunch and Learn Series, sponsored by the Hope Network and ASAP will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Future topics, dates and locations are:

• The Church and Racial Unity — Tuesday, Jan. 15 at Danville Church of God, located at 516 S. Fourth St., Danville

• Jail and Prison Ministry — April 16, Lancaster Baptist Church, 201 Richmond St., Lancaster

• Parenting, Prevention and Youth Ministry — Aug. 27, First Baptist Church Second and Walnut, 200 W. Walnut St., Danville

• Alcohol and Drug Addiction: Resources for Pastors — Oct. 29, Danville First Church of God, 3220 Harrodsburg Road, Danville