Colony of Mercy Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Colony of Mercy


[block]0[/block]Colony of Mercy Review

America’s Keswick, a Christian ministry, runs addiction recovery facilities for men and women on a lush compound in the small central New Jersey town of Whiting. The men’s facility, Colony of Mercy, was founded in 1897 William Raws as a spiritual restoration center for men struggling with addiction. Today, it provides Bible-based residential treatment for men with struggling with drug and alcohol addictions.

Accommodation and Food

The Colony of Mercy residence hall is a large brick building that houses more than 50 men, two or three to a room. The facility is large and set on beautifully landscaped grounds, with a golf course, pool and two lakes. Physical activity is encouraged, and a gym with exercise equipment, a sauna and group sports gear is on site.

Each client is placed into a work assignment on arrival, one of which is cooking. The residents are responsible for planning the menu and preparing meals for the group. While food allergies can be accommodated, meals are generally basic and hearty, with adequate nutritional value.

Treatment and Staff

The Colony offers an initial residential recovery program of a minimum of 120 days, followed by an eight-month non-residential aftercare phase.  Once placed on a waiting list, clients are expected to pursue church-based Bible-study groups in the six- to eight-week period before admission. Only medication essential to supporting life is allowed, and clients must be sober upon entering the facility. The Colony does not offer detox, medical care or dual diagnosis support.

Prior to admission, clients must agree to abstain from all tobacco products, as well as drugs, alcohol and psychotropic drugs. Most importantly, they must be open to biblical teaching as the sole source for recovery. Discussion of, or literature relating to, outside treatment methods, including 12-step programs, is not permitted.

There are no medical or psychiatric methods incorporated into treatment; all recovery is based on Christian principles of spiritual transformation. Clients are guided in individual counseling, group therapy, Bible study and worship services. Counselors are available at all times for personal sharing and prayer.

The Colony provides a strictly structured environment, with little time for leisurely activities. Clients are assigned to one of four work therapy groups, which consume six to eight hours of every day. Each man is also assigned a chaplain, with whom deeper spiritual practice is encouraged. Men are required to memorize Bible verses and study scripture in order to replace old behaviors and beliefs with new ones.

Clients may receive letters and calls on a payphone, but are not permitted to make outgoing calls. Letter writing is encouraged. Loved ones may contact the client’s chaplain with questions and emergencies. Visitors are only allowed after the client’s initial 30-day orientation is complete and then only every other weekend, for Saturday or Sunday service.

Days begin at 6:15 am with breakfast at 7 am, followed by teaching on weekly topics. Work begins around 9 am and ends around 4 pm, with an hour for lunch. Evenings include dinner, exercise, homework and personal time. Each evening closes with prayer from 9 pm to 9:30 pm, with lights out at 11 pm. Church services on weekends and a movie night on Fridays round out the week.

There are 10 Christian counselors and chaplains on staff, with additional ministers and support staff visiting the facility to lead specific groups.


Aftercare consists of an eight-month commitment to a local church. During this time, the client practices fellowship with his pastor. Spiritual and relationship goals are established, with progress and commitment monitored.

A residential recovery program called Barbara’s Place recently opened for women struggling with addiction. America’s Keswick also offers a program called Women of Character for wives and fiancées of Colony residents. The women are encouraged to become actively involved in the process of recovery

Families for Christ is designed specifically for the married men in the Colony and their wives. After graduation, the couples are invited to come back for a weekend program that is held once a month and includes group activities.

In Summary

The Colony of Mercy offers a highly structured spiritual program for men of the Christian faith. As biblical study is the main component of recovery, those who aren’t Christian are not accepted into the program. However, for men who do not require detox, or dual diagnosis support for co-occurring disorders, the Colony offers a powerful immersion in faith-based recovery. They require only a $500 admission fee, after which all treatment is free.

Colony of Mercy Location

601 Route 530
Whiting, NJ 08759

Colony of Mercy Cost

Free. Reach Colony of Mercy by phone at (848) 227-4591 or by email at [email protected]. Find Colony of Mercy on Facebook and Google+

Do you have a complaint or review of Colony of Mercy to add? Use the comments area below to add your Colony of Mercy review. 



  1. Stewart Doyle on

    To the director of Keswick, my son Marty Doyle has regrettably left Keswick after just over half of his allotted time , because he missed his family mainly but he now regrets leaving , I beg when you have your review meeting Wednesday you may offer him a chance to reconsider having him back to complete or reseat the programme.
    He is a English and has lived in the states for 18 years and has been a alcoholic for a long period but unknown to me his father I only recently found this out.
    He needs to complete the programme for the sake of his family in the states and back home in the U.K. So please if you could allow him to we in the U.K. Would be very grateful. SDoyle

  2. i have a long good and bad affiliation with the colony and like most reviews people only leave a review when they are angry…you are very wrong about this place….but what ever…if God is God he has annointed this place for over 120 years…you can talk to him about your review when you get there.

  3. I was there last year and completed the program. The environment is great, a solid work/study program. Like any program it is about what you put into it and what you do personally for your head and heart. I got a lot out of it and if you are looking to develop yourself spiritually then by all means take advantage of it.

    The overall review of the program and WR’s comments are accurate. However, there are some things that the men just coming into the program are often baffled by and I want to point them out here. On the downside the theology and teaching of the place is all over the map. I was expecting something coherent. They say they teach the exchange life (Galatians 2:20) but the Chaplains vary significantly in their beliefs and you will hear a number of teachers and teachings that contradict each other. Sadly, the Director of Men’s Ministries won’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t buy into his point-of-view, nor can he tolerate anyone who seems to know more than he does. I saw him give an ordained, highly educated minister a month extension in the program for questioning his spiritual authority in a most respectful manner. I also witnessed him denigrate a number of men in public, violating just about every professional counseling and HIPAA rule there is. So my advice is that while you’re there if you have strong or differing beliefs don’t air them during devotions or with the Chaplains.

    If you have a need for medication of any kind, unless it is life threatening disease (like diabetes), no meds whatsoever are allowed. Even vitamins and supplements require a Doctors’s written authorization. This can actually be a very good thing in getting back in control of your life. Many of the men who gave up their meds ended up far clearer and level headed without them, myself included. Smoking is prohibited and most of the men who are dismissed are dismissed because they test positive for tobacco, rarely drugs or alcohol. There are no medical services only an emergency room which you are responsible for financially. If you need a dentist they have someone who does tooth extractions only.

    In some ways I think the Colony of “Mercy” is a misnomer. I have seen the Director counsel through intimidation, using manipulative psychology and throwing some out “because God told me to.” The Keswick leadership need to realize that the need for change in the program is long past due.

    The biggest challenge for many is that there is no real exit plan. Unless you have a place to go back to and an approved church and job you’re in trouble. I have seen many men taken to the bus station in Toms River and just dropped off. If your choice should be an AA based sober living home – sorry, not an option. Though the Director will publicly say otherwise, AA is not an option. While you are there you have no access to a cell phone, email or the web, so making transitional plans is all but impossible. Yes you can use the pay phone on the weekends but if you are trying to line up work or get a call back that it is not going to happen. I had planned to attend a Pentecostal church when I left, but was told that was not acceptable “because we do not believe in speaking in tongues.” They also do not believe in healing. Whenever they pray for individuals in public they pray for the skill and wisdom of the Doctors involved, not for the deliverance of the patient through any kind of spiritual intervention. Also, if you are Catholic you will likely be told you can’t go back to the Roman Catholic Church, so be prepared. I saw it happen to two guys while I was there.

    I found great fellowship with they men there, got a lot out of the work program, appreciated the library (which can be a real refuge) and respect the long tradition and history of the institution. So, if you can see past the red flags I have posted (which are minimal in the scheme of things), I would recommend it.

  4. Overall, I believe your review is very good. However, I wanted to add a few comments.

    The recovery ministry is based on bible study and Christian counseling and discipleship but the program does admit non-Christians who seek admittance to the program. I have an acquaintance who was not a Christian and was admitted. Also, the men are allowed to make calls but it is limited to weekends and due to the number of men I believe they only get about 30 minutes.

    The program also offers an additional 90 day period beyond the first 120 days for men. They have more freedom regarding their time but also more responsibility around the facility.

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