After Completing Doctoral Degree at 80, Anding Ready to Help Those Suffering from Addiction

Rose Maria McCarthy Anding

In 2006, at the age of 68, Rose Maria McCarthy Anding (DMin18) found herself in a rehab center in Houston. “I had been on drugs for 25 years,” she says. “In Houston I was delivered and set free. God restored my life.”

Anding left rehab with a mission: to build a community for others struggling with addiction. “God had given me an assignment to build a place where I could demonstrate the love of God to people on drugs and alcohol,” she says.

Little did she know that 12 years later, at the age of 80, she would graduate from George Fox University’s Portland Seminary with a doctoral degree and the missing pieces necessary to make her vision a reality.

At the time, though, confident as she was of her convictions, Anding didn’t know where to start. “I had no idea how I would build this community,” she recalls.

Anding had been raised in the church in rural Mississippi. Her father was a farmer but had also been a minister, establishing and leading three churches, so the ministry felt like a natural place to start. And when she got started, she didn’t stop.

She first served as activity minister at her church, and later as a Bible study teacher and head of the women’s department before being ordained. She also wrote a book, High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder, published in 2010, detailing her story of overcoming addiction and being commissioned to win souls for Christ. But her vision was bigger than church leadership and a book, and Anding knew she needed more education to achieve it.

She studied evangelism and church planting at Liberty Theological Seminary, earning a master’s degree in 2012, followed by a master of divinity degree in chaplaincy in 2014. Still,Anding realized she had more work to do. While some of the pieces to her plan were in place, others were missing.

“I thought I’d go to school and learn how to plant a church,” she says. “I’d been on drugs for 25 years, and I thought I was fully equipped to talk to people [with addiction problems]. Doing drugs and working in a drug community are vastly different.” That realization led to yet another master’s degree from Liberty University in counseling, focused on addiction and recovery, in 2016.

While searching for a counseling program, Anding met an admissions counselor from Portland Seminary who took an interest in her work. He shared with her information about the seminary’s Leadership and Global Perspectives Doctor of Ministry program – a three-year, online program that prepares those in ministry to lead confidently, communicate clearly and think critically while experiencing spiritual formation from a broad perspective.

It was a perfect fit, but there was just one problem: “I wasn’t interested in more school,” Anding recalls. “At the time, I had no idea God was leading me that way.”

After much research and consideration, she decided to take the plunge and pursue her fourth graduate degree – all after the age of 70. This spring she graduated, ready and equipped to fully pursue her calling.

“It was only after I finished my dissertation that I saw how all the parts came together,” she says. “That was the final piece – the piece I needed. I could not have accomplished that anywhere else.”

Today, she ministers to the people of her home state of Mississippi through the Restoration Christian Outreach Community. The free addiction treatment center is funded by the Early & Lettie Simmons Foundation, established by Anding to honor her parents.

Most days she’s busy writing grants and proposals, organizing youth programs for families in her neighborhood, and helping countless individuals “step into their visions.” And, of course, Anding spends a good deal of her time helping those whose lives have been broken by substance abuse.

“That’s what I came out of,” she says, “and that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do.”