Monday, January 18, 2010

Mercy Ministries Featured in Charlotte Newspaper

From left, Sarah Turner; Nancy Alcorn, founder of Mercy Ministries; and pastor Derek Turner of
Branch Family Church in Charlotte at the Mercy Ministries pastor's luncheon in Charlotte in September.

Treatment house for women, teens may build in Charlotte

A ministry that helps young women with eating disorders, self-harm problems and other issues is eyeing Charlotte for its fifth U.S. residential treatment center.

Whitney Cantrell of Nashville, Tenn.-based Mercy Ministries began visiting Charlotte last year to build a support base. The response has been good, she said: For example, 160 ministers and counselors attended a luncheon in September, when only 100 were expected.

"The more we do here, the more it is clear this is where we need to go next,"
Cantrell said.

The Mercy Ministries house will be built on 8 acres, off Rocky River Road, donated by Derek and Sarah Turner, longtime Mercy Ministries supporters and leaders at Branch Family Church in Charlotte.

Cantrell said that building the house, which will house 40 teenagers and women up to age 28, and paying for initial operating costs will require between $5 million and $7 million. Mercy Ministries likes to have that money up front, so the group will begin holding fundraisers in Charlotte this year, including a barbecue and 5K road race.

Mercy Ministries gives 10 percent of money it receives to other ministries in the community, and it accepts no money "with strings attached," Cantrell said.

At some Mercy Ministries events, graduates of the treatment program who live in the Charlotte area will share their stories of recovery, Cantrell said.

Mercy Ministries offers its residential program for free, and girls participate voluntarily. The women suffer from "life-controlling" issues, which include eating disorders, cutting, addictions, abuse and depression.

Women live in the Mercy House for an average of six months, where they attend classes and counseling sessions.

The counseling and teaching is biblically based, Cantrell said. When they graduate, women are encouraged to get involved in a church and read the Bible regularly.

"Everything we do is centered on the love of God and unconditional love for the girls,"
Cantrell said.

"We teach that, in Christ, there is true freedom; not 'once an addict, always an addict.'"

A house in Charlotte would impact the Mercy Ministries wait list, which now has 750 names, Cantrell said. With enough local support, the house could open in several years. "It totally depends on how the first part of this year goes," she said.

SOURCE: Charlotte Observer