Comforting Those Who Mourn
Each Sunday afternoon, long after the last note of the closing hymn fades away and the members of Harleton United Methodist Church head home to Sunday dinners with their families, a faithful few return to the church to re-open the doors. They are there to provide grieving members of the community a place of comfort, understanding, and healing through GriefShare, an international program designed to help those who have lost a loved one face the challenges of bereavement, and rebuild their lives.
GriefShare- A Path to Healing
Rev. Kate Turner, pastor of Harleton UMC, first began exploring ministry options for grieving families when she recognized the need within her own church. “We have experienced numerous losses within our own congregation,” she said, “but there were no grief support groups available anywhere near our church.”
Rev. Turner turned to District Superintendent Rev. Chuck Huffman for help. He pointed Harleton UMC to GriefShare. The program seemed like the perfect way for the small East Texas church to minister to their grieving neighbors.
The congregation was excited to begin the ministry, but a huge obstacle stood in their way. For a small church like Harleton, GriefShare’s startup cost for leadership training, video seminars, and participant workbooks was overwhelming. Rev. Turner and her congregation simply didn’t have the extra funds for the ministry in their budget, so they took their financial need to God in prayer. And He answered.
God Provides a Way
“God provided an ‘angel’ who covered one hundred percent of the startup costs,” Rev. Turner said, “This person wasn’t even a church member, but she felt the call from God to provide this meaningful and life-changing program to our little community!”
The church also received donations of furniture, artwork, and the essential audiovisual equipment needed to transform one of the rooms in the fellowship hall into a welcoming “parlor” for the GriefShare ministry. Soon, the ministry was on its way.
Each week, trained facilitators guide participants through the GriefShare program which incorporates three distinct elements over the course of 13 weeks- a video seminar, group discussion, and time for personal reflection. Participants also find healing in each other. “It is comforting to be able to express their grief without having to explain it,” Rev. Turner said.
Harleton UMC’s Commitment
Harleton UMC recently completed their first 13-week course cycle of GriefShare, and are preparing to begin again. The community response has made it clear that Harleton is meeting an aching need. Out of the eight participants already committed to the course, only one is a member of Harleton UMC. Additionally, members of the first GriefShare group are considering sitting in on the sessions again.
In Romans 12:15 Paul encourages believers to “mourn with those who mourn.” Harleton UMC is taking Paul’s admonition seriously as they look forward to offering the GriefShare ministry for many years to come.
Are you interested in bringing GriefShare to your community? Rev. Turner suggests researching the program at www.churchinitiative.com. Click the GriefShare logo.