I first met Revs. Drs. Laurie Kraus and Bruce Wismer almost ten years ago when they responded to a fatal domestic violence incident at a church I was serving as the Director of Congregational Care. Before meeting them, I only vaguely knew of our denomination's disaster response team as the "hurricane people." Like many pastors, I had little idea that members of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance's National Response Team deployed to many other types of incidents, including "un-natural" or "human-caused" disasters. About a year later, I attended a discernment retreat to explore the possibility of joining the team, which is where I met Rev. Dr. David Holyan. He, too, was discerning joining the team, and he too had survived a human-caused disaster when a man shot several people across the street from his church, in front of the local court house. One of the victims was the husband of his church's director for Christian Education.
Over the years, Kraus, Wismer, Holyan and I have worked together to assess congregational impacts of trauma, identify best practices for emotional and spiritual care of individual and corporate bodies, and highlight effective faith-based and community-based collaborations. We continue to work and volunteer with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and Bruce also serves as the chair of the board for the Institute for Congregational Trauma and Growth.
Recently, it was an honor to contribute chapters to this joint project, Recovering from Un-Natural Disaster: a guide for pastors and congregations after violence and trauma. You'll find this hand-held guide to be a very practical and accessible resource, with examples of incidents, tips for caring for children, youth, and adults, personal care tips for faith leaders, and templates for planning worship and community response.
Order your copy here.
Notes on the Bible, faith, community, and congregational care.