Preview of Interview of Christian Recovery Leader Jim Gaffney of New York
By A.A. Historian Dick B. on Saturday, July 14, 2012
Our guest will be Jim Gaffney of New York, former Recovery Pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Jim has a degree in pharmacy and long experience in the alcoholism and addiction recovery arena. He almost single-handedly set up “A Nationwide Recovery Conference with Dick B.” at Mariners Church Community Center in May 2009. And following that conference, Jim helped us launch the International Christian Recovery Coalition in July 2009.
Before I turn this over to Jim, I want to return to my first meeting with him almost 20 years ago. Four churches in the Southern California area had organized a training session for those church folks who wanted to work in the Christian recovery field. The conference was called “Shepherding the Shepherds.” Dr. David Stoop, Editor of the Life Recovery Bible arranged for me to meet with two of the leaders. The first was Rev. John Baker of Saddleback Church whom I met shortly before Celebrate Recovery was founded. The second was Rev. Jim Gaffney. At the time, he was in charge of recovery at the former location of Mariners Church in Orange County.
John Baker asked me to address the trainees on the history and roots of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I did this at several locations—one being Saddleback Church. Another was Mariners Church, where I met with Jim Gaffney, discussed his recovery program, spoke at one of the Mariners facilities, and attended one of his small recovery groups. I could see that Jim Gaffney was thoroughly supportive of 12 Step recovery programs for Christians. He pointed out to me that, unlike Saddleback, Mariners freely allowed A.A. and N.A. members to give their testimonies in the church. And I never forgot that. Some 20 years later, I renewed my friendship with and memory of the meetings with Jim, and told him we wanted to hold a large conference—the first nationwide conference for Christian recovery leaders—at Mariners Church, and Jim made the arrangements.
The upshot was that Jim guided us to several Christian leaders. One was at The Crossing Church in Costa Mesa. Another was at New Life Spirit Recovery, Inc., a Christian treatment and Christian counselor training center in Huntington Beach, where its president, Dr. Robert Tucker, offered the Coalition free office space at the facility. A third was at Capo Calvary.
It was obvious, from our conversations with Jim and from the people to whom he introduced us, that Jim was thoroughly conversant with most Christian and 12-Step aspects of recovery from alcoholism and addiction. Also, that he was very much in touch with other Orange County recovery leaders and authors like Dr. John Townsend, Clinical Psychologist and Author, Dr. David Stoop, and Bobby Nicholl, interventionist and treatment director at Celebrate a New Life at Hope by the Sea in San Juan Capistrano. And these men I just mentioned soon formed the nucleus of a very strong group of Christian recovery leaders in Orange County.
We therefore formed the International Christian Recovery Coalition—with Jim as one of the leaders—and established the Orange County Office at New Life Spirit Recovery. The International Christian Recovery Coalition owes a big debt to Jim Gaffney.
Now I’ll turn the interview over to Jim—hoping he’ll tell us some about himself, his education, his religious background, his family, and his addiction problems. And that he will give us the benefit of his knowledge of the growing Christian Recovery Movement, his own recovery work in California, his brief return to pharmacy, and his present work again in the recovery field in New York.