Chris Chase can relate to people in recovery who may struggle during the winter holidays.

“I’ve had some bad Christmases where I didn’t have a place to go; I didn’t have people that cared," said Chase, who has been sober for 11 years.

Chase is the ministry leader for the Celebrate Recovery program offered at McCabe United Methodist Church in Bismarck. The program offers a safe space for people dealing with numerous kinds of "hurts, habits or hang-ups."

The Celebrate Recovery program helps people from all walks of life, and not just people with alcohol and substance use disorders, but people who are dealing with codependency, marital issues and any struggle in their life.

Chase said the idea popped into his head to hold the Christmas Day service, so he printed off flyers and distributed them around town.

"I really want to help those people who have had those rough Christmases or don’t have a place to go," he said.

Celebrate Recovery was founded at a church in California more than 25 years ago, and it incorporates 12 steps that are similar to Alcoholics Anonymous but are Christ-centered.

The program started at McCabe about three months ago. Chase said he does service work at McCabe, and about a year ago he learned about the Celebrate Recovery program.

"It’s kind of a God thing how it happened, because I was always called to help people in recovery, and I had been through such a transformation in my life that I wanted to share that with people everywhere," he said. "This is what I’ve been looking for in my life to do."

McCabe offers Celebrate Recovery services at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays at the church, starting with a dinner and a service. People share their testimonies on how they’ve been transformed. They also break off into small, gender-specific groups.

Chase and Kalyn Retterath, a worship leader for the program, said the goal of the Christmas Day event is to offer support to those in recovery.

"We felt it was really important for a Christmas event, because a lot of people sometimes when they’re going through recovery, they’re in a bad place (and) they might not have people to spend the holidays with," Retterath said.

The goal of the event is to also increase awareness of the program, Chase said.

The Celebrate Recovery Christmas Day service will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at McCabe, 1030 N. Sixth St., with a free dinner at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 701-891-9928, or visit www.celebraterecoverybismarck.com.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter