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Challenge Choir to visit DL on OCT. 6

For more than 25 years now, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge has been helping to restore hope to both adults and teens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

The non-profit organization operates one of the largest, most effective and most affordable addiction treatment programs in the nation, with residential campuses in Brainerd, Duluth, Minneapolis and Rochester.

“Within those campuses, we have about 500 clients statewide — that’s adult men, teen boys, adult women and teen girls,” said Sam Anderson, director of the Central Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge campus in Brainerd.

“It’s (Adult & Teen Challenge) actually a global program,” he added, noting that there are more than 1,000 ATC treatment programs in almost 100 countries worldwide — including nearly 300 programs in the U.S. alone.

“We’re a faith based, interdenominational Christian program,” Anderson continued.

The program’s stated mission is “to provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society.”

One of the ways in which it reaches out to area communities and churches is through its resident choir.

Each weekend, the choir visits a different church (or churches) in the region, performing contemporary gospel and traditional hymns.

Next Sunday, Oct. 6, the choir will be performing at Grace Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, starting at 9:30 p.m.

According to Grace Lutheran Pastor Rob Nelson, audiences can expect to hear both high-quality music and moving testimonials.

As part of each performance, a handful of choir members “will share the story of their addiction and process of recovery,” Anderson explained. “They can be very moving stories.”

As for the music, “we use fairly modern songs that are well recognized by a lot of different denominations,” he added.

The choir’s performances serve a dual purpose: To help its members through the recovery process, and to help raise funds for MnATC, through a free will offering taken during each concert.

“We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit,” said Anderson. “We need the (financial) help to keep our doors open.”

As for why DL’s Grace Lutheran was chosen as a host site, Pastor Larson said, “We were open (for a performance) when they were open.”            

This particular ensemble will number approximately 30 singers, all of them male, Anderson said.

“We currently have 59 men at our facility right now,” he continued, adding that half of them will be performing in Detroit Lakes, and the other half at a church in Staples on the same morning.

Each MnATC site offers both long and short-term treatment programs, which allows them “to effectively serve individuals with a broad spectrum of addiction issues,” according to a press release about the concert that was issued this past week.

The long-term residential program lasts between 13-15 months, and all the participants are required to be a part of the choir, “whether they can sing or not,” Anderson joked.

“We’re not the St. Olaf Choir, or the Concordia College Choir, but they do an amazing job, especially when you think that just a few weeks ago, some of these clients were living on the street, homeless, digging in dumpsters, or sitting around home, drunk and alone,” he continued.

“To see them come around and have their lives transformed, it’s a pretty amazing process.”

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454