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Community leaders calling on houses of worship to help in addiction recovery

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Community leaders calling on local houses of worship to help address the opioid epidemic.

The Holy Friendship Summit will be held in May. The two day conference hopes to bring communities together to partner up in fighting opioid abuse.

In Northeast Tennessee last year, there were a total 118 opioid overdose deaths.

Sullivan C ounty and Washington County had the most deaths. Unicoi and Johnson counties had the fewest deaths.

News 5's Jessica Griffith finds out why these leaders say a problem this big can only be fixed by working together.

Churches are a place for faith, healing and fellowship.

Now, leaders in the Tri-Cities are hoping it can be a place for recovery.

"We believe that there is a group of people in our region who can help make a big difference for our communities and that's our people of faith," Director of Workforce and Literacy at First Tennessee Development District Lottie Ryans said.

Opioid addiction is considered an epidemic, so the Holy Friendship Summit hopes to bring together congregations, medical professionals, educators and others in the community to learn how to work together to pool resources and combat the issue.

"We believe when there is a problem this vast, it must have an equally broad vision for recovery," Dr. Mark Hicks said.

Hicks is the Associate Pastor at State Street United Methodist Church.

This church has already embraced helping with addiction, holding Recovery Bristol Thursday nights.

"Every church has these issues within them. We don't always talk about it, but it's the reality," Hicks said.

Several leaders promoting the summit, from the Johnson City Police Department ETSU, hoping for more than 1,000 participants in the conference.

"No one church can do this alone. It will take every church and every Christian in our region working together with God's help," Dr. Marvin Cameron, Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Kingsport, said.

"People don't consciously go about destroying their lives. We want them to be open minded and understand there's no shame. We just need to be there to help lift people up and give them solutions," Ryans said.

The Holy Friendship Summit will be held May 18-19 at Celebration Church in Blountville.

You can learn more here.

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