United Methodist clergy and laity representing 18 different churches from Harbor District in the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church attended the SOUL CARE Day of Learning on August 5th at Harbor UMC in Wilmington, NC. Facilitator and retired U.S. Army Chaplain (Col.) David Smith led the training which was focused on equipping churches to start or expand ministries which reach out to those in the military community (active duty and veterans).
Home to multiple major military installations, North Carolina has one of the highest concentrations of military veterans and active duty personnel in the United States. After Harbor District’s Mission Strategy Team identified “Care and Support to Military Veterans and Active Duty’ as one of the district’s 12 most critical missional needs, the churches of Harbor District (located across a 9 county area of southeastern North Carolina) are interested in what they can do to more effectively reach out to this large demographic.
The August 5th Day of Learning included training from Chaplain Smith on topics such as:
- Understanding military culture
- Challenges that military members and their families face
- Reaching out/building relationships with vets/active duty
- Spiritual care needs of vets/active duty
- The role that churches can play related to spiritual recovery
A working lunch round table session was also conducted which featured a panel of representatives from multiple local organizations which serve the military community in the Harbor District. Attendees were able to receive helpful information from these organizations including the volunteer opportunities with which their church members can plug into/connect. Panel members also answered questions regarding their organization’s specific mission focus and services.
Following lunch Chaplain Smith highlighted a number of best practices including a SOUL CARE ministry at one of Harbor District’s churches – Faith Harbor United Methodist Church. Arness Krause, Faith Harbor United Methodist Church’s Soul Care ministry coordinator, was on hand to share how the church got started with their SOUL CARE ministry and what it looks like today. She also shared some tips/lessons learned with the group.
Based on post event comments from attendees, they left the training inspired and equipped with helpful information and resources. Follow on work in the district will be led by Harbor District’s Military Community Outreach Advisory Team (MCOAT). MCOAT’s mission is to equip and inspire churches in the Harbor District to share the love of Christ with military veterans and members through outreach, prayer, relationship building and acts of kindness and gratitude.