Lebanon pastors team up to combat hunger, opioid crisis in their community

Local News

LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) — After a number of overdose deaths in Lebanon, two pastors are coming together in hopes of saving lives.

It comes after they buried three young people who overdosed just last weekend.

“I don’t want to bury another child,” Pastor Michael Ruttlen Sr. of United Methodist Church told News 2.

The latest victims, he says, is a local Bishop’s daughter, her niece and a friend who all overdosed.

“This is unexpected, no one expects to bury their child at this age.” 

It’s a feeling Pastor Ruttlen knows all too well. He lost his Godson to an overdose last year. 

“I’m very passionate about this subject because Thomas Tapley meant a lot to me. It’s like somebody falling off a cliff and you are holding on to their hands and they say help me and then they slip out of your hands it’s that kind of thing, so if I can save anybody else, even through his death I’m going to do the best I can,” he explained. 

The tragedy inspired Drug Free Wilco, a coalition to fight drug misuse and addiction.

“Even though we buried those three this weekend, we still have to fan the flame so to speak we still have to try to proactively save lives.”

Pastor Ruttlen has joined forces with Pastor Ryan Bennett of First United Methodist Church to give away food along with information on the opioid crisis; the dangers and how to seek help. 

“I can not come in church and basically preach over dead bodies there are those dying left and right I can not ignore this subject, come on ya’ll we have a crisis for real”, he states. 

The giveaway will be held Saturday morning at 8 at United Methodist Church in Lebanon. 

They plan to provide food for 150 families. The pastors hope to make it a quarterly event and give away NARCAN in the future. 

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