No Longer Anonymous

Stephen Ramshaw

October 2023

“Some people say, “Aren’t all churches recovery churches?”, but sometimes you can sit in a pew and get no help from no-one, putting on your polite church face when you’re having coffee and a biscuit.”

Sheffield’s first Recovery Church met on a bright Monday night in July in an ecumenical partnership between Church Army, St Leonard’s Arbourthorne and Salvation Army. Since then, around 20 attend with at least 12 on any given week.   

It has been a passion of Stephen Ramshaw, our Lead Evangelist in Sheffield, to create this healing space for people: 

“We needed a community that would let people be themselves, warts and all, because all of us have something. All the years gone by we’ve had Alcoholics Anonymous, Gambling Anonymous etc., but the difference here is we’re not anonymous.  

It’s hard to take that first step, but our Recovery community teaches you that it’s OK to fail; to not worry if you fall because we’ll pick you up and start again. It’s important to have somewhere where everyone understands what you’re going through.  

The fact is that addiction is an illness; it’s something that stops us living the life we want to be living, but all of us have our habits and hang ups. The people who come to our Recovery Church have the courage to admit they’re recovering from something.”

So, what happens at recovery church? 

“We meet weekly at a location away from the city centre to help people in our community avoid unnecessary triggers – because a key to recovery is changing your playground and your playmates. 

Then there is time for a welcome, a song, prayer, and a short talk. The talk tends to tie into the challenges of overcoming – e.g. David and Goliath. Afterwards, we split into male and female groups to have a discussion time over 2 or 3 questions, followed by a time of feedback. 

“I came to realise that where I’ve got to in life is not a full stop, but a comma, and that I can change my story.”

Attendee of Sheffield Recovery Church

Life’s beaten people up sometimes, but they come along and they do get better. Though it’s early days, they realise there is a better way of living, and we’re beginning to see positive change.”

Stephen Ramshaw is our Lead Evangelist in our Sheffield City Centre project, with a passion for those struggling with addiction, mental health, and homelessness.  

“Once, I met a street worker who said to me, “I know how to survive but no-one’s shown me how to live.” I want more than that for people. I want to believe in life to the full.” 

Whilst in Sheffield, Stephen has worked with partner organisations to run several recovery courses, and will be starting another 12-week course, based on the STAR program in October. It is currently the only Christian based recovery group in Sheffield.