Phone of the Spirit Dedication CeremonyApril 22, 2017, 10:00 am-10:30 am
Contact: Emily Harvey, email@example.com, (870) 761-4779
On Saturday, April 22, 2017, St. John’s United Methodist Church will host a dedication ceremony for the Phone of the Spirit, a community project to raise awareness about the heroin epidemic in Memphis and across the country.
In 2015, 27 people died of a heroin overdose in Memphis. One year later, that number jumped 450 percent to 122 deaths. Narcan, the drug treatment for overdose, was administered by the Memphis Fire Department nearly 1,700 times in 2016. In response to this crisis, community members have rallied to raise resources and awareness around addiction and recovery.
Phone of the Spirit is a project inspired by an episode of NPR’s This American Life, which tells the story of thousands of Japanese who visit a phone booth as a symbolic way to reach – and find closure – with loved ones who died in the 2011 tsunami. The garden at St. John’s United Methodist Church will be home to Memphians own phone booth, one to encourage grieving and healing for those who have lost friends and relatives to the growing drug epidemic.
“The goal of the Phone of the Spirit is to help community members grieving the loss of loved ones from accidental overdose and other tragic circumstances. This project may not stop the disease, but it will spread awareness and grant others the hope of recovery. When the people of Memphis want to connect with a loved one once more, they now have a quiet space to dial in a prayer and send it to the sky,” said Emily Harvey, 26 year old native Memphian and Creator of Phone of the Spirit, who lost her boyfriend to a heroin overdose in May 2015.
The event will feature speaker Bethany Morse, a former addict who is involved in groups such as Memphis War on Heroin and Tennessee Overdose Prevention, and Reverend Johnny Jeffords of St. John’s United Methodist Church.
“As it is with any type of loss we sustain, and especially a sudden one prompted by violence or substance abuse, those of us left behind struggle to make meaning of it all even as we attempt to cope with our own grief. The Phone of the Spirit stands as an unmistakable beacon to our community that we must come together to be healed of the ravages of this epidemic upon all our families,” said Rev. Jeffords.
The dedication ceremony will mark the opening of the phone booth for public use.