BANGOR, Maine — Two local churches have joined forces to offer Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program.

Columbia Street Baptist Church and New Hope Church a year ago began offering the Celebrate Recovery program on Monday nights at the Baptist church in downtown Bangor. New Hope meets at Penobscot Christian School on outer Ohio Street.

Celebrate Recovery is open to all believers struggling with “hurts, habits and hangups,” according to Aric Rice, who heads the leadership team.

Rice, who attends New Hope, is a mental health counselor in Bangor.

“Those hurts, habits and hangups often are a symptom of something that has happened in your life and has left a hole in it,” he said earlier this week. “Whatever you are trying to stuff into life to fill that hole — whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food or sex — it’s never enough. In my experience. Nothing can fill that hole but God.”

Celebrate Recovery was created about 20 years ago by the Rev. Rick Warren, head of Saddleback Church headquartered in Lake Forest, Calif.

Warren is best known for his best-selling book, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

“Most people are familiar with the classic 12-step program of [Alcoholics Anonymous] and other groups,” Warren said on the program’s website. “While undoubtedly many lives have been helped through the 12 steps, I’ve always been uncomfortable with that program’s vagueness about the nature of God, the saving power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“So, I began an intense study of the Scriptures to discover what God had to say about ‘recovery,’” he continued. “To my amazement, I found the principles of recovery, and even their logical order, given by Christ in his most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount.”

The Beautitudes are laid out in Matthew 5-7.

Many of the 40 to 60 people who participate in the program, like team leader Tracy, who asked that just her first name be used, have taken part in and continue to attend 12-step programs.

“OA worked for me at the time and it was a great stepping stone,” she said. “I had a connection with people [in that group] but in Celebrate Recovery, I have a different type of connection, a deeper connection because we all have faith in the same savior, the same creator and we are all striving to be more like him.

“Knowing now who God is,” she continued, “it’s like the ultimate peace. There is only one way, one answer and that is Jesus Christ.”

In addition to the Monday meetings, groups divided by gender meet on Tuesday nights and use workbooks to go through the 12 steps, turning to the Bible often for guidance and inspiration.

In addition to Bangor, Celebrate Recovery groups meet at churches in Bath, Houlton, Lamoine, Lewiston and Portland, according to information at

For information about the Bangor group, call 745-5521.

Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Principles

Incorporating the 12 steps and based on the Beatitudes

  • Step 1: Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.
    “Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.”
  • Step 2: Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.
    “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
  • Step 3: Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.
    “Happy are the meek.”
  • Steps 4 and 5: Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.
    “Happy are the pure in heart.”
  • Steps 6 and 7: Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.
    “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.”
  • Steps 8 and 9: Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others.
    “Happy are the merciful.” and “Happy are the peacemakers”
  • Steps 10 and 11: Reserve a time with God for self-examination, Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.
  • Step 12: Yield myself to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and my words.
    “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”