Monthly Archives: March, 2015

Welcome to the New Soul Care Initiative Website

March 31st, 2015 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

I am excited to announce JustPeace’s launch of the Soul Care Initiative website.

I have engaged faith communities and faith partners over the last 6 months regarding their concern for our veterans and their families, especially about maintaining health and wholeness. During these conversations we recognized the need for a means to communicate, collaborate, and facilitate resources and practices that are a part of the cultivation of spiritual care and the development of resiliency for our veterans and their families.

Press Release: Soul Care to help churches minister to returning veterans and families

March 31st, 2015 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

WASHINGTON, D.C. — JustPeace, the United Methodist Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, has launched Soul Care, an initiative to develop spiritual understanding and ways to speak to a hurting soul within the context of trauma and moral injury that returning veterans and their families often confront.

VIDEO – Moral Wounds of War – Jonathan Shay (Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly)

March 26th, 2015 Posted by Multimedia 1 comment

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly‘s Extended Interview with Jonathan Shay.

Jonathan Shay is a clinical psychiatrist whose treatment of combat trauma suffered by Vietnam veterans combined with his critical and imaginative interpretations of the ancient accounts of battle described in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are deepening our understanding of the effects of warfare on the individual.

Moral Wounds of War: Johnathan Shay – Part 1

Moral Wounds of War: Johnathan Shay – Part 2

Veteran Spiritual Mentoring

March 25th, 2015 Posted by Congregational No Comment yet

What is Veteran Spiritual Mentoring:  

  1. Spiritual mentoring aims to deepen and strengthen the veteran’s experience of and relationship to the Divine in a way that is authentic and meaningful.
  2. Assists the veteran to name, understand and work with the problems, blocks, and patterns in his/her life by using spiritual perspectives, practices and tools.
  3. Guides the veteran to assume total self-responsibility, not for all that happens to them, but for how they choose to react and be with what happens.
  4. Supports the veteran in coming to know her/himself as “whole”, integrating all aspects of the self – physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual.
  5. Helps the veteran toward wholeness through the awareness and cultivation of inner compassion (heart), discernment (mind), and courage (action).

Purpose:  Veteran Spiritual Mentors serve as guide and companion to other veterans on their journey to wholeness and healing.

Qualifications of Mentor:  

  1. A wise person of mature faith and consistent in living out one’s faith.
  2. Willing to listen, share skills, and provide a positive perspective for life experiences.
  3. Provides wisdom and offers spiritually sound, safe, and authentic friendship to a veteran.
  4. One leads because one knows the path a little better.

Responsibilities:*

  1. Be available.  It is not a requirement to be a theologian to mentor another, but you should be a person of faith who lives out your life with integrity and with respect of others.  It is not a requirement to be a trained psychologist, but be available to listen, and offer timely and godly advice. Younger veterans need the experience, endurance, and example of a mature veteran.
  2. Be purposeful.  What is this younger veteran seeking from a relationship with you?  Trust.  Most veterans are frustrated by the polite veneer of casual relationships.  They desire to connect more authentically with another veteran.  Many veterans desire to share their sacred story with someone who will accept and understand where they have been and what they have done.  They may want a closer relationship with the Divine and a better understanding of holy writings.  However, they may not!  Mentoring is not always a study of holy writings, prayer, or talking about God or religion.  Mentoring is to be a committed friendship.  The veteran can experience fully the compassionate love and amazing grace of God because the mentor becomes closely connected with the veteran in a relationship of quality and depth.  It is through this relationship that the mentor can minister the transforming power of God to the veteran’s heart, mind, and soul.
  3. Be creative. Regular times and days suit the chronologically challenged, but there is always room for variation. Go out for coffee, meet for breakfast, whatever time and place meets the needs of the veteran and you.  Share in an activity – walking, running, biking, hiking.  Mentoring isn’t about being intensely spiritual all the time, it’s about building a relationship.
  4.  Be a listener.  The most critical responsibility of a mentor, listen. Let her/him open up. Don’t feel compelled to dole out advice for every topic he/she might raise. Wait until she/he asks for your thoughts before offering them. Be trustworthy. The person you mentor must be able to trust you implicitly and know that nothing they tell you will ever be taken any further. It is a completely sacred relationship.
  5. Be real.  When it is time to do the talking, remember that honesty makes you vulnerable. No one is perfect.  Both the mentor and mentee continue to be transformed into the children that God intended.  So don’t be afraid to be genuine, to reveal your weakness. In spiritual mentoring, the grace of God gets the job done through us (and sometimes in spite of us).
  6.  Be an example.  Mentors must show their trustworthiness, demonstrate their love for God.  Actually do what you say you will do.  Words alone are empty.  From the mentor’s perspective, the process seems something like this:

I do, you watch
I do, you help.
You do, I help.
You do, I watch.

 

*The topic on responsibilities largely adapted from Crosswalk.com, Kelley Mathews, Th.M. (Dallas Theological Seminary).

 

Caregiver Community Program

March 24th, 2015 Posted by Organizations No Comment yet

In 2014 the Elizabeth Dole Foundation created the Caregiver Community Program (formerly known as the Ambassador’s Program), a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the challenges of military caregivers.

UMEA: Empowering Ministerial Reintegration and Resilience

March 22nd, 2015 Posted by Congregational, Resources No Comment yet

BACKGROUND

The United Methodist Church deploys chaplains and pastoral counselors in a variety of settings both in the continental United States and around the world. John Wesley’s best known affirmation, “The World Is My Parish” has been a driving force for persons in ministry since the beginning of the Methodist movement. This is especially true for those in extension ministries.

As in the past, endorsed United Methodist military chaplains exercise their vows of Word, Sacrament and Service in the frontlines of war. Today they are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our chaplains face very complex challenges as well as opportunities in these environments of violence, pain and fear. They bring the healing words of the Gospel to members of the military who often have to give up their lives for the sake of the Nation.

United Methodist military chaplains journey with their soldiers through multiple deployments and untold dangers while their families and friends anxiously wait for their safe return. Then, one day, they return home and they are not the same. They bring in their hearts and souls the pains of war and the vivid memories of a world that few could comprehend. At the same time, their communities have changed, their families have changed and their children have grown. The excitement of the homecoming can become a nightmare unless the healing power of a caring church and community is activated. Therefore, we face a challenge as the United Methodist Church to unleash the powerful forces of the endorsed community to bring hope, comfort and support to our chaplains and families. The United Methodist Teams to Facilitate the Spiritual Journey of Shalom emerged as a result of the emotional and spiritual crisis of war. The opportunities for and the experiences in our endorsed community are extraordinary for use in this venture.

CONCEPT

The Teams will bring together endorsed pastoral counselors, spiritual directors, active/retired military chaplains as well as local church volunteers. These persons will work together with small groups of families to facilitate the spiritual journey of chaplains and their families as they return from war, negotiate the shoals of reentry, say hello, and, in some cases, say goodbye yet again. The term SHALOM is used because it incorporates hello, goodbye, and peace.

THE WORK OF THE TEAMS

MISSION

The Teams will assist returning chaplains and their spouses to reintegrate, to face the inevitable changes, and to accept these changes as common.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Culture of the Military

  • The military community is unlike any other community
  • Only military communities are asked to give up certain rights for the benefit of the nation, e.g., freedom of speech
  • Military people tend to bond very quickly
  • At the same time, military people tend to fear getting too close for fear of loss
  • Military families are asked to make frequent sacrifices
  • Military families make frequent moves, often without the financial help provided for corporate moves
  • Spouses in the military have to re-establish with each move
  • Military people face frequent and prolonged separations from family
  • Military communities are closed societies with loose boundaries between work and social life. They live and work within the “gates”
  • Military communities are a blending of races and regional cultures unknown in other communities
  • Military communities have a great diversity of faith groups
  • The military culture is a youth culture
  • Military members often have some difficulty understanding how civilian communities work. “Who’s in charge here?”
  • Military people have an ethos of “taking care of our own”
  • The military consciously provides resources for families during deployment
  • The military has an excellent record of mentoring
  • Military people have their own language
  • Military communities have a common purpose/mission
  • The military spirit is a warrior spirit
  • Military people are sometimes placed in harms way
  • Even in peacetime, military work is inherently dangerous
  • Civilians always make the decisions about the deployment of the military
  • The military is very hierarchical
  • The military is very competitive. Up or out, (Promotion or discharge) is the norm
  • Even the spouses of the military member tend to be rank conscious
  • Everyone in the military immediately knows his/her position in relation to others. The insignia of rank, branch and unit patches defines this.

What the returning chaplain may be experiencing

It is important here to understand that PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are on a continuum.  Persons can experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress without having the disorder. The difference lies in the level of normal functioning. It is safe to say, however, that no one escapes some impact from exposure to traumatic events. Therefore, the returning chaplain may experience any or all of the following:

  • Intrusive thoughts and memories. The uninvited and unbidden experience of sudden thoughts and memories of the traumatic event or events
  • Flashbacks. A more serious occurrence of the above in which the person actually relives the event as if it were in the present
  • Hyper-vigilance. A state of being on guard to threats of danger.
  • Exaggerated startle response, e.g., flinching, jumping or falling to the ground when loud noises occur
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Nightmares
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations related to the trauma(s)
  • Efforts to avoid situations that arouse memories of the trauma(s)
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Blocking memories of all or parts of the traumatic event(s)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Restricted range of affect, e.g., inability to have loving feelings
  • More subtle reactions to certain odors, sounds or sights

It is very important for both the chaplain and the spouse to know that the above reactions are common and usually normal. The highest estimates of veterans who suffer from PTSD are around 30%. To be diagnosed with the actual disorder, the above symptoms must be in a cluster, must significantly interfere with optimal functioning, and must persist for an extended period of time. The DSM IV defines PTSD as acute if the symptoms persist for up to three months and chronic is they last more than three months. One or two symptoms are not considered a disorder but only a cluster of several. However, even in the war veterans who do not suffer from PTSD some symptoms may persist for decades. This is particularly true of intrusive thoughts and memories. The memories cannot be erased and often will return when least expected. Virtually all persons exposed to the trauma of combat have some form of PTS.

In addition to the above responses to the trauma of war, there are other common reactions

  • The chaplain may feel some reluctance to reconnect because of the threat of quick redeployment. “Why should I say hello when I may have to say goodbye?
  • The transition from the war zone to the American town can be disconcerting in itself.
  • The chaplain may feel “survivor’s guilt” particularly if he/she was involved in a mass casualty event
  • The chaplain may feel disconnected spiritually
  • The chaplain may feel at odds with the roots of his/her faith
  • The chaplain will probably feel joy at being home
  • The chaplain will probably feel relief at making it home
  • The chaplain will discover that exposure to combat forever changes one’s understanding of self and world.
  • The chaplain may miss the adrenaline rush of combat
  • If the chaplain is a reserve or national guard chaplain he/she may face issues of re-appointment within the home conference and re-integration with the local church
  • Chaplains may have difficulty determining where to go for help
  • There may be privacy issues associated with counseling

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. It would be impossible to list all of the possible reactions.

What the spouse may be experiencing

The spouse has also been through the pain of separation and his /her own trials and may be feeling uncomfortable reactions to the reunion. Common reactions include the following:

  • Joy
  • Relief
  • Unexplained anger
  • Arguing with minimal stimulus
  • Feelings of being displaced. While the chaplain has been away, the spouse has often learned a new sense of independence. Giving this up for the team’s sake is often difficult.
  • Fear and concern for the reactions being displayed by the chaplain
  • New issues in parenting. The spouse has lived through the changes and growth in the children. The chaplain has not.
  • Difficulty sharing decision making, especially concerning the children
  • Unrealistic expectations that things will be as they were before deployment
  • The opposite of the above in expecting the worst
  • The spouse may feel distrust of the chaplain because of the possibility of unfaithfulness during the deployment
  • Fear that he/she will no longer be loved
  • Fear that they are no longer connected spiritually
  • The spouse may also feel reluctant to reconnect for fear of rapid redeployment
  • The spouse may have suffered from anticipatory grief and will face the dissolution of those symptoms
  • The spouse may experience anger if the chaplain volunteered for deployment
  • If the chaplain is a reservist or national guard chaplain the spouse may experience difficulty resuming the role of pastor’s spouse

Again, this list is not exhaustive.

Tasks facing the couple

  • Reestablishing open communications
  • Sharing their concerns, fears, and joys with one another
  • Respecting the differences in their experiences
  • Renegotiating the division of labor in the home
  • Renegotiating the sharing of parental decision making
  • Helping the children deal with their own responses to the many changes in their world
  • Rewriting the rules of the household
  • Active listening
  • Putting one another first
  • Rebuilding their love
  • Rebuilding their trust
  • Reclaiming the romance of their relationship
  • Getting to know one another again in view of the inevitable changes to self
  • Rebuilding their common faith
  • Finding help if needed

GROUP FACILITATION SKILLS

Team members are all skilled in group facilitation since this is a prerequisite for being a team member. These skills are listed here as a reminder only. No doubt you will think of more.

  • Establish and preserve confidentiality
  • Set and keep boundaries concerning group membership, time, safety, and participation
  • Make a contract with the participants to attend all the sessions of the group
  • Speak in the first person
  • Avoid dominating the conversation or allowing another to dominate
  • Do team building at outset
  • Build trust
  • Discourage interrupting
  • Discourage interruptions from the outside
  • Be aware of countertransference
  • Model desired behaviors
  • Establish a non-judgmental atmosphere
  • Encourage the telling of stories
  • Don’t be afraid of silence (it lowers defenses because it raises tension)
  • Avoid the language of healing (our task is to ease the journey, not to treat pathology)
  • Encourage the accepting of feelings as common
  • Stress the commonality of their experiences
  • Be an active listener
  • Keep the small groups as small groups (6 to 8 members including leaders) Groups larger than eight are no longer small groups and do not have the same dynamics

THE SEMINARS

There is great flexibility in how, when, where, and for how long the seminars are conducted. A suggested format is attached, but it is not to be taken as gospel. The following are suggestions:

  • Enlist local United Methodist Churches for facilities and logistical support when possible. It’s their ministry too. (Note: several of the couples in the experimental seminar felt local churches were not the right setting. Too many of them felt injured by the local church)
  • Make sure you have the materials you need. At a minimum you’ll want an easel with newsprint, markers, pads or file cards, and pencils for the participants.
  • Meet with chaplains and their spouses together to facilitate their hellos.
  • If you determine that the emotional content of their stories are too powerful for them to share them with their spouses just yet you might want to consider separating them into two sub-groups. This will probably not be necessary.
  • Keep your eye out for the need for further professional intervention and make appropriate referrals if warranted. .
  • Make sure there is free time in your plan.
  • Begin and end the seminars with worship. Closing with the Eucharist is usually appropriate.

A SUGGESTED SEMINAR FORMAT

This particular format is designed for a seminar beginning one afternoon and continuing through the following evening. It may, of course, be modified to fit the time available. Ideally, a seminar for two full days will give more time for processing the experiences and for free time to give the participants some distance from the stress. Two day seminars may prove to be prohibitively expensive.

First afternoon

Opening Worship 

A suggested order of worship for welcoming service members returning from war is on the GBHEM UMC Endorsing Agencies website (gbhem.org/chaplains). A copy is attached.

You may, of course, develop your own worship service.

Team building – Measuring the Group

The objective here is to introduce the group members to one another, establish a basis for trust, and initiating the group process. The suggested exercise is as follows:

Purpose: To allow participants to visually experience the demography and nature of the group. It is a bonding exercise.

Process: The group is asked to create a line that identifies from the shortest to the longest time in the military. Other factors may be measured, such as the number of children, length of time married, years spent overseas, etc.

The group is then asked to picture a map and place themselves on the map where they were born, where they are stationed now, where their favorite duty station was, etc.

The exercise ends at the discretion of the facilitator.

(You may choose to use another team building exercise)

Morning of second day

Devotions

Group Session #1 – Needs and expectations assessment (30 min)

What do the participants hope to get from the seminar? (This may be recorded on newsprint and referred to at the end of the feedback and summary session #6)

Group Session #2 – Telling our stories (1 hr)

The group will be separated into two groups. One will consist of the chaplains, the other will consist of the spouses. Their experiences will be quite different. The first experienced the rigors of combat. The other experienced the hell of waiting and being responsible for everything at home.  What the facilitator is looking for are the stories that are likely to haunt them over time, the stories that are giving them the most difficulty. This process has a power all its own. As the saying goes, “Naming our ghosts takes their power away.”  Whatever can be done to ease this process should be done. You might want them to note both a difficult story and a story where they felt ministry occurred. These, of course, might be one and the same. You can be quite specific about what you are looking for in terms of their stories. In this session they are simply to tell their stories. The discussion of their feelings and reactions to the stories will be covered in the next session. Allow plenty of time for support and questions of clarification as the groups interact around each story. Avoid allowing the groups to judge the stories. Everyone’s experience is uniquely his/her own.

Break (15 min)

Group session #3 – Reflecting on our stories (1.25 hrs)

This is in the same configuration as the previous groups and is, in fact, a continuation of the previous session. Have the participants reflect upon their feelings and reactions to the stories of session #1.   Many of the stories may be of life-changing events. You can facilitate this by asking questions for reflection such as: How have these experiences, in body, mind, and spirit, changed you? What has been different for you since you experienced these events? How do you think these experiences will effect you in the future? Are there things you learned about yourself through these experiences? etc. Remember this must be non-judgmental and supportive.

Meal Break

A common meal will facilitate further informal discussion.

Group session #4 – Sharing our needs and Finding our strengths (1 hr)

A. The beginning of this session serves as an introduction to the couples’ dyads. The configuration is the whole small group with chaplains and spouses. The objective here is to facilitate the identification of specific needs that were uncovered in the earlier sessions. You may want to address these as emotional, relational, spiritual, and/or physical.

B. The group will then break into husband/wife dyads with instructions that they use the time to share and reflect on what they need from one another and from others. It is suggested that they be asked to sit face to face and take turns addressing, without interrupting, “What I value in you,” “How are things going with us and our children now” and “What I need from you.” You may consider instructing them to use a specific amount of time for each question even if it results in periods of silence. Sometimes the silence lowers their defenses and encourages them to say even more. For example, you might say to them, “When you are sitting facing one another, take turns without interrupting. Each take five minutes, whether you need it or not, to speak to the question. You may have some silence, but that’s OK.”  If there is sufficient time they may also address: “What our mutual goals are and what we need from others.” It is very important to be specific in guiding the couples with the above questions. Their dyad should be specific and focused and not just a chance to chat. Have them pair off to nearby spaces to avoid them attending to other tasks during this time. Make sure they understand that it isn’t a break in which to make phone calls or check out the gift shop. You may want to write out what the couples are to address for each of them to use as a reference.

[Note: If there are single chaplains present, they can pair off with a facilitator to explore their own support system and how they are planning to care for themselves in the transitions. Who do they confide in? Who do they turn to when things are tough? How do they have fun?

Protocol for Couple Dyads (1)

For the Spiritual Journeys of Shalom Seminar

(adapted from a protocol by Han Van den Blink, PhD.)

Sit close together facing one another and follow the protocol below. While one person is talking, the other is to remain silent and just listen.

  • Silence ( at least 45 seconds)
  • Sharing by one person – “What I value in you”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the other person – “What I value in you”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “What I need from you”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the second person – “What I need from you”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “What I offer you”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the second person – “What I offer you”
  • Silence (at least one minute)
  • Feedback – a conversation about the experience of sharing in this way. What have you heard before? What surprised you?

What pleased you? What did you want to hear that you didn’t hear?

The above guidelines are designed to foster the critically important spiritual practice of listening openly, compassionately and truthfully to self, spouse, and the Spirit. The guidelines are not hard to understand but are difficult for some to put into practice. We are not accustomed to just being in the company of another without doing something.

During the silence you can gaze wistfully into one another’s eyes, stare off into space, or glare at each other depending on the prevailing atmosphere. Chances are the process will change the prevailing atmosphere.

Protocol 1A for Couple Dyads

For the Spiritual Journeys of Shalom Seminar

(adapted from a protocol by Han Van den Blink PhD.)

Sit close together facing one another and follow the protocol below. While one person is talking, the other is to remain silent and just listen.

  • Silence (at least 45 seconds)
  • Sharing by the chaplain – The positive things I experienced coming home were
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the spouse – The positive things I experienced when you came home were
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the chaplain – The negative things I experienced coming home were
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the spouse – The negative things I experienced when you came home were
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the chaplain – These things are still bothering me
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by  the spouse – These things are still bothering me
  • Silence (at least 1 minute)
  • Feedback – a conversation about the experience of sharing. What were you touched by? What did you identify with? What feedback can you give?

The above guidelines are designed to foster the critically important spiritual practice of listening openly, compassionately, and truthfully to self, the other, and the Spirit. The guidelines are not hard to understand but are difficult for some to put into practice. We are not accustomed to just being in the company of another without doing something.

During the silence you can look into your partner’s eyes, gaze off into space or sit with your eyes closed. You may even glare at one another depending upon the prevailing atmosphere. Chances are the process will change the prevailing atmosphere.

Protocol for Couples Planning Dyads (2)

For the Spiritual Journeys of Shalom

(adapted from a protocol by Han Van den Blink, Ph.D.)

Sit close together facing one another and follow the protocol below. While one person is sharing the other is to remain silent and just listen.

  • Silence (at least 45 seconds)
  • Sharing by one person – “What I would like us to do to see us thru the trying times of deployment and reuniting”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the other person – “What I would like us to do to see us thru the trying times of deployment and reuniting”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Discussion of what each person has said about a plan until a consensus is reached
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “What I can do to facilitate this”
  • Silence ( at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the second person “What I can do to facilitate this”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Testing the consensus – a conversation about the comfort of both persons with their plan and their individual contributions toward making it work. Both persons must “own” the plan for it to be effective.

Remember that the protocol is designed to facilitate the spiritual practice of listening openly, compassionately and truthfully to self, spouse, and the Spirit.

Protocol for Single or Unaccompanied Chaplains Planning Dyads (1)

For the Spiritual Journeys of Shalom
(adapted from a protocol by Han Van den Blink, Ph.D.)

Sit close together facing one another and follow the protocol below. While one person is sharing the other is to remain silent and just listen.

  • Silence (at least 45 seconds)
  • Sharing by first person – “An incident of ministry that stands out as a significant experience.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the second person – “An incident of ministry that stands out as a significant experience.
  • ”Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “An incident that is likely to haunt me.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing y the second person – “An incident that is likely to haunt me.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “Coming home for me is …”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing b the second person – “Coming home for me is …”
  • Silence (at least 60 seconds)
  • Feedback – a conversation about the experience of sharing.  What were you touched by?  What did you identify with?  What feedback can you give?

The above guidelines are designed to foster the critically important spiritual practice of listening openly, compassionately, and truthfully to self, the other, and the Spirit.  The guidelines are not hard to understand, but are difficult for some to put into practice.  We are not accustomed to just being in the company of another without doing something.

During the silence you can look into your partner’s eyes, gaze off into space or sit with your eyes closed.  You may even glare at each other depending on the prevailing atmosphere. Chances are the process will change the prevailing atmosphere.

Protocol for Single or Unaccompanied Chaplains Planning Dyads (2)

For the Spiritual Journeys of Shalom
(adapted from a protocol by Han Van den Blink, Ph.D.)

Sit close together facing one another and follow the protocol below. While one person is sharing the other is to remain silent and just listen.

  • Silence (at least 45 seconds)
  • Sharing by one person – “What I am going to do to address the issues I have identified.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the other person – “What I am going to do to address the issues I have identified.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “What resources are available to me.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing y the second person – “What resources are available to me.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – How I have coped in the past.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing b the second person – “How I have coped in the past.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the first person – “How I can find meaning in what has happened.”
  • Silence (at least 30 seconds)
  • Sharing by the second person – “How I can find meaning in what has Happened.”
  • Silence (at least 45 seconds
  • A conversation about each person’s plans. Give feedback and suggestions to your partner.

Remember that the protocol is designed to facilitate the spiritual practice of listening openly, compassionately, and truthfully to self, the other, and the Spirit.

Break

Group session #5 – Moving Forward (1 hr)

A. The whole group will reassemble for a debriefing of their time in couple dyads.

Help them identify what resources are available to them and within them to address these needs, e.g., What have they used to cope in the past? How can they find meaning in what has happened? How can the couples honor each other’s experiences? The group members may put outside resources identified by the group on newsprint for retention and use. Everyone should contribute to this list including the leader(s).

B. Then they will be given instructions to again work in their couple dyads to plan what they need to do to continue on their journey. This, ideally, may be a couple’s plan but they may decide they also need individual plans. Each plan should include measurable goals to determine progress. A plan, for example, might include an agreement to sit quietly with each other once a week to check in on each other’s progress with the issues identified.

Group session #6 – Feedback and Summary (up to an hour)

The couples will share their plans with the total group in so far as they are comfortable with that. The purpose of this is threefold: to get feedback, to get encouragement, and to give other couples fresh ideas. You might want to put their plans on newsprint to see the similarities and differences.

Finally ask the group to share what the experience of the seminar has meant for them. You may want to include a written evaluation. You may also wish to refer back to the list of expectations and goals from Session # 1.

Closing Worship (This should include communion with each couple sharing the elements with one another. In the practice session we also included a hand washing ritual which was very powerful for the participants. They were asked to wash one another’s hands at a large bowl and a couple of towels placed on the altar.  The participants are asked to come forward in pairs and to wash one another’s hands in the bowl and dry one another’s hands with the towels.  This is done in silence.  They return to their seats while other pairs continue with the process.)

The suggested format above is just that, suggested. You may, of course, modify it to fit the time available and to reflect your own skills and preferences in group facilitation.

Resources

Tick, Edward: War and the Soul: Healing our Nations Veterans From Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Quest Books, Wheaton, Il. (2005)

Henderson, Kristin: While They’re at War. Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin, New York. (2006)

Yalom, Irwin D. The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, 5th ed., Basic Books, NY (2005)

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV, American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC, (1994)

Vet to Vet Peer Support

March 22nd, 2015 Posted by Congregational No Comment yet

 

Mission Statement:  Vet to Vet is a mutual peer support group meeting addressing veteran concerns; emotional, spiritual, educational, vocational and transitional needs of veterans and their families.

Vet to Vet Group Composition:

  • Each component (Active, Reserve, and Guard)and branch of service (Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard)
  • Combat and peacetime vets
  • Officer, Warrant, and Enlisted

Peer Support Group Purpose:  Veterans share a common purpose, language, and code of conduct.  Often veterans are reluctant to share their experiences unless it is with another veteran.  Sharing one’s story supports life review and healing.

Facilitator Qualifications:  The volunteer must be; one who has served in the military; maintains own well-being, respect confidentiality, honest, dependable, flexible, and a good listener; will bring their military training, experience and history to the group.  Veteran facilitator volunteers are in the unique position to understand the veteran’s story that makes the possibility of a deep emotional bond possible that opens doors of trust.

Influenced by: Combat or non-combat experience, which war they served, if they were wounded, POW or have PTSD, branch of service, rank, and whether they were enlisted or officer.

Resources:  Group facilitators should familiarize themselves with veteran issues, community connections, and community resources.  The Veterans Administration provides a manual in how to begin and conduct a Vet to Vet program under the auspices of the VA.  Visit the Vet to Vet USA website for more information.

For the Veteran Facilitator Volunteer, several factors to consider:

  • Make the environment safe
  • Listen carefully and without judgment
  • Invite the veteran to share their sacred story
  • Open the door, but do not push
  • Express appreciation for their service of country
  • Celebrate their accomplishments with them
  • Affirm what they have learned and the growth that has resulted
  • Offer camaraderie
  • Keep focus on each veteran not just you
  • The veteran’s experience may be different than yours
  • Female veterans also see/experience trauma.  Also, may have been sexually assaulted.
  • Have self-awareness of own journey and awareness of losses
  • Recognize own military training and experiences that effect thoughts and emotions
  • Communicate and collaborate with other community Veteran Facilitator Volunteers

Veteran Facilitator Volunteer Responses:

  • Provide transportation
  • Assist veterans in reminiscing/telling life stories
  • Make regular visits
  • Provide telephone assurance calls
  • Educate and assist in receiving veteran benefits

Faith Community’s Supporting Veteran Facilitator Volunteers:

  • Be aware of signs a Veteran Facilitator Volunteer having negative reactions or experiences
  • Reaction could be the Volunteer withdrawing from the group
  • Volunteer may become depressed
  • Volunteer may relive his/her experience with the hearing of group member’s sharing their own
  • Volunteer may have flashbacks or emotional arousal and reaction
  • Recognize the Volunteers during special times of the year (Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day)

Veterans Day Sunday Worship Celebration

March 22nd, 2015 Posted by Congregational No Comment yet

(Click here to download a Word document that you can edit for your context)

VETERANS DAY SUNDAY WORSHIP CELEBRATION

PRELUDE

POSTING OF THE COLORS

*OPENING HYMN

*CALL TO WORSHIP

LEADER:  We gather in the name of God, who loves us and who is in our midst.

PEOPLE:  WE GATHER IN THE NAME OF THE ONE WHO PROCLAIMS JUSTICE AND MERCY!

LEADER:  We gather to remember God’s faithfulness as we recall the sacred story.

PEOPLE:  WE GATHER TO SHARE IN THE SACRED STORY SO THAT WE MAY BE TRANSFORMED TO BECOME PEOPLE OF HOPE AND PEACE.

ALL:  AS PEOPLE OF HOPE AND PEACE, MAY OUR WORSHIP BRING US STRENGTH AND COURAGE TO OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE YOU AT WORK IN AND THROUGH US, TO OPEN OUR HANDS TO SERVE THOSE AROUND US, TO OPEN OUR LIPS TO SHARE YOUR SACRED STORY, SO THAT WE MAY BRING YOU HONOR AND GLORY.  THANKS BE TO GOD!

RECOGNITION OF VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Please Rise: Those that are in our presence that are either serve on active duty, or in the reserves, or in the national guard.

Please Rise: Those that are in our presence who are veterans, that have served our country in the past.

Please Rise:  Those who are fathers, mothers, siblings, spouses, children, and grandparents of those who are serving and those who have served.

Please Rise: Those that are in our presence who have lost a loved one while serving in peace or in war.

Please Rise: Those who have gathered to worship in freedom because of the sacrifices of others.

LEADER:  Let us join responsively in our Litany Honoring our Veterans and their Families.  Today we remember all those who have served in our country’s armed forces to preserve the freedoms we have been blessed.  For the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force,
PEOPLE: We thank you for our blessing.
LEADER: For the family members who have made great sacrifices in order to make it possible for their service members to stand guard at home or to deploy into harm’s way,
PEOPLE: We thank you for your blessing.
LEADER: For the families who grieve the death of a loved one who went in harm’s way, never to return,
PEOPLE: We ask your blessing.
LEADER: For all those veterans who have been willing to lay down their lives for us,
PEOPLE: We ask you blessing.
LEADER: For the veterans of wars past who still bear scars of mind, body and soul,
PEOPLE: We ask your blessing.
LEADER: Keep our veterans and their families in your care today. Grant them the peace they sought to preserve for others. As we honor our veterans, we also pray for peace. Teach all your people the ways of peace that those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom and peace for others will not have done so in vain. We pray all these things in the name of your son, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
People: Amen.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

Almighty and merciful God, we lift up to you this day our brothers and sisters who through your great love served our nation. We remember with gratitude their courage, sacrifice, and selfless service. For your protection, guidance, and sustaining presence during their years of service, we give you profound thanks. This morning with all our veterans, we mourn the loss of all those who did not return home. And we continue to pray for those who have been wounded in body, mind, and spirit. May they find in you a source of hope and strength.

We pray for those who serve us now, especially those in harm’s way. Shield them from danger and return them home. We also give you thanks for the families who support their loved ones during the most difficult of times. Thank you for their courage and sacrifice.

God of peace, turn the hearts and minds of our leaders and our enemies to the labor of justice and harvest of peace. God of compassion, make our church into a place of love and healing as our veterans come back home. God of love, help our congregation to not turn a blind eye to the needs and pain of our veterans, make (name of church) a place of comfort and healing for all.

Today we pray for a new day and a new world where the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans is no longer needed; because the nations of the earth will not rise against each other in war and destruction; because the nations of the earth will turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks to build, to sow, and to help each other; because the nations of the earth will no longer learn how to make war.  And above all, we thank you Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who calls us together to build a new heaven and new earth today. Amen.

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

HEBREW LESSON

ESPISTLE LESSON

*GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

*GOSPEL

MESSAGE “Sermon Title”

ANTHEM

*HYMN OF DISCIPLESHIP

*RETIRING OF THE COLORS

*BENEDICTION AND SENDING FORTH

LEADER:  We offer ourselves to you O God, our Creator.

PEOPLE:  WE OFFER OUR HANDS.

LEADER:  Use healing touch to comfort those who continue to live in pain.

PEOPLE:  WE OFFER OUR EYES AND EARS.

LEADER:  May we see and hear the signs of despair, hopelessness, and shame so that all may have someone with them in their fear and confusion.

PEOPLE:  WE OFFER OUR HEARTS AND OUR TEARS AS THE HURT AND SORROW OF OTHERS ECHO WITHIN US.

LEADER:  May we be people of hope and peace as we remember the Sacred Story and as we embrace one another.

ALL:  WE NOW GO IN GOD’S ABIDING PRESENCE, STRENGTH AND LOVE.

POSTLUDE

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” —President Abraham Lincoln

(Click here to download a Word document that you can edit for your context)

Service of Healing – Combat Veteran

March 19th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

SERVICE OF HEALING

 

TIME OF GATHERING

Thoughts for meditation;

Come into this place of peace, and let its silence speak to your soul;

Come into this place of memory, and let its vision strengthen your soul;

Come into this place of healing, and let its warmth restore your soul.

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

LEADER:  We gather in the name of God, who loves us and who is in our midst.

PEOPLE:  WE GATHER IN THE NAME OF THE ONE WHO PROCLAIMS JUSTICE AND MERCY!

LEADER:  We gather to remember God’s faithfulness, to name our sorrows and to share new visions.

PEOPLE:  WE GATHER TO SHARE IN THE SACRED STORY, HEAL OUR PAIN, AND REKINDLE OUR HOPE.

LEADER:  The spirit of life has called us to be together.  The spirit of compassion has called us to serve one another.  The spirit of peace has called us to be transformed by love.

ALL:  BLESS OUR GATHERING, OUR REMEMBERING, OUR HEARING AND OUR SPEAKING, MAY THIS BE A TIME FOR HEALING OF OUR SOULS!  THANKS BE TO GOD!

 

OPENING SONG

 

SCRIPTURE READING

 

TIME OF SHARING (After all have shared, the leader will state the following:)

LEADER:  I want to thank you for your service to our country.  You have been to war and have survived.  We recognize that there is a deeply personal cost for being a warrior.

ALL:  WE THANK GOD FOR GOD’S PROTECTION, GUIDANCE, AND SUSTAINING PRESENCE EVEN WHEN WE DID NOT RECOGNIZE IT.  HELP US ON OUR JOURNEY HOME.

LEADER:  The gospel shares with us about a man who had been living among the tombs, and who called himself Legion because he was haunted by so many disturbing spirits.  When Jesus saw him, Jesus had compassion on him and gave him release from his demons.  As you come here today, we want you to have the opportunity to leave behind what is past and accept for yourself the healing and comfort that God alone can provide.

 

TIME OF SHARING (Prior to sharing of the first story, the leader will read Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”  After the last person shares the leader will say:)

LEADER:  You have shared your sacred stories.  You have placed on the altar the hurt, loss, anger, despair, confusion, and weariness you have brought with you.  You have given all to God.

PEOPLE:  FOR THE MEMORIES THAT CONTINUE TO HAUNT US, HELP US TO LET GO.  AS WE SEEK HEALING FOR THE WOUNDS TO OUR SOULS, LET US RECONNECT TO YOU, OUR STRENGTH.  HELP US TO KNOW THAT WE NO LONGER NEED TO BE QUITE SO VIGILANT FOR YOU ARE THE WATCH TOWER OVER OUR LIVES.

LEADER:  Reflecting on the memories that have been painful and discomforting, let us now in the presence of this community of faith and God, offer a silent prayer for all that we have experienced that weighs heavy in our souls and that we have just laid at the altar giving it to God.

 

Moment of silent prayer observed.

 

TIME OF SHARING (After the last person shares the leader will say:)

LEADER:  When the early church was in the midst of doubt and confusion, the Apostle Paul writes a letter offering words of comfort saying; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship, or persecution or famine, or nakedness or danger or sword?” Paul’s answer is, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

ALL:  AS WE LET GO, WE THANK GOD FOR THE PROMISES OF HEALING THAT IN GOD WE MAY FIND A SOURCE OF HOPE, STRENGTH, AND PEACE.  WE HAVE THE ASSURANCE THAT NOTHING WILL EVER SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD.

 

INVITATION TO THE TABLE

 

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

 

LORD’S PRAYER

 

SHARING OF THE BREAD AND WINE

 

CLOSING SONG

 

BLESSING

LEADER:  May the Peace of God be with you.

ALL:  AND ALSO WITH YOU.

LEADER:  Brothers and Sisters, I commend to your care, each other.  Uphold one another in prayer, support, and love.

ALL: BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE HAVE BEEN RECONCILED, RENEWED, AND RESTORED.  WE GO FROM THIS PLACE READY TO SHARE GOD’S PEACE AS WE SERVE ONE ANOTHER.  AND WE GO PRAYING FOR GOD’S PEACE, THAT NATION WILL NOT LIFT SWORD AGAINST NATION, NEITHER SHALL WE LEARN WAR ANYMORE.  AMEN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soldier’s Heart

March 19th, 2015 Posted by Organizations, Resources No Comment yet

Soldier’s Heart, developed by Edward Tick, Ph.D. and Kate Dahlstedt, LMHC, provides a unique and comprehensive model to address the emotional, moral, and spiritual wounds of veterans, their families and communities. It offers a genuine healing and homecoming from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by developing a new and honorable warrior identity supported by community.