- “I have COVID brain!”
- “It is hard for me to concentrate or focus.”
- “On a good day, I feel like I’m operating at about 80%.”
- “Everything irritates me today!”
- “I am just so weary.”
Throughout this pandemic, we have heard countless statements like these from pastors who are navigating new technologies and means of doing ministry, while shepherding their congregations through the COVID-19 pandemic and uprisings for racial justice. New dominant variants of the virus bring new anxieties about increased risks and the need to close things back down. Because these extraordinary circumstances have become our constant reality, we may begin to normalize this abnormal situation. Yet, this pandemic is truly a crisis event — or more honestly, a cascade of critical events.
In the midst and in the wake of crisis events, it is not uncommon to experience grief, disruption, and disorientation. Spiritual, emotional, and psychological needs accompany the physical needs seen during this pandemic.
In these challenging times, we can learn from our colleagues who have walked the path of community trauma before. Disciples General Ministries have compiled a selection of resources to support clergy and church leaders manage the trauma of this season.
In July 2021, Pension Fund launched access to a self-paced, online therapy program: Learn to Live. Active ministers of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and their household members over age 13 can access this confidential resource, based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, by visiting https://pensionfund.org/resources/learn-to-live.
Pension Fund has also secured access to a video series from Odyssey Impact: Healing the Healers. In this 5-part video series, with accompanying discussion guide, Rev. Matthew Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church leads a conversation with faith leaders who have experienced community trauma, such as the Sandy Hook School shooting, 9/11, and chronic violence in their communities. You are invited to watch these videos with clergy peers and host conversations using the downloadable discussion guide. Email [email protected] to request access to the series.
Within our Disciples ministries, we have valuable resources to complement and enhance the experience. National Benevolent Association’s SoulCare Conversations are companion offerings created to enhance and build off the wisdom gleaned from the Healing the Healers video series. We encourage clergy groups who watch the Healing the Healers videos to consider scheduling a SoulCare Conversation to help process learnings and experiences in a brave, supportive environment. For more details, contact Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick, Vice President of Organizational and Leadership Development at [email protected].
Week of Compassion hosted a roundtable discussion about the trauma of the pandemic, as experienced by leaders in multiple expressions of the church. Rev. Janet Chapman (Pastor, FCC Redding, CA), Rev. Yvonne Gilmore (Interim Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation), and Rev. Andy Mangum (Regional Minister, Christian Church in the Southwest) discuss COVID-19 in relation to previous experiences of trauma, such as natural disasters, mass shootings, and racism in America.
Disciples Home Missions – through the office of Christian Vocations offers The Well Fed Spirit. This site offers spiritual formation & wellness resources for clergy and lay-persons from the Christian tradition and our wider spiritual communities.
Additional resources from Disciples General Ministries and ecumenical partners can be found below.
Naming this pandemic as a trauma–the way we would with a natural disaster or other crisis event–can help provide a framework for understanding and tools for processing our experience. For clergy and church leaders, especially, this work is crucial to healthy and sustainable ministry.
Resources from Disciples ministries
- Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family, and Church By Sarah Griffith Lund
- The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention by Rachael A. Keefe
- 99 Prayers Your Church Needs (But Doesn’t Know It Yet) by the Bethany Fellows, edited by Cara Gilger
National Benevolent Association
Webinar: Tending to Our Spiritual and Mental Wellbeing After Crisis and Trauma
As part of their Mental Health and Wellness Initiative, NBA hosted a panel of mental health professionals, to speak to the importance of tending to our mental health and wellness, especially as we return to social gatherings beyond family, and even begin to worship in person again.
Spiritual Care in the Midst of Crisis Leadership webinar: a one-hour webinar offering practical tips, tools, and resources to navigate high expectations of spiritual care with minimal resources in the midst of crisis. en español
“For Such a Time as This” sermon series: 11 prophetic sermons created to encourage clergy to practice wellness and use these for pulpit supply; uplift the importance of wellness equity and mental health justice across the life of the church; and call the church to action around particular issues of injustice that affect mental health and well-being.
Resources from ecumenical sources
The Disaster Distress Helpline (a free national hotline for immediate crisis counseling through SAMHSA) has launched two new resources:
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Building Resilience webinars for clergy and general audiences: one-hour webinars to increase participants’ understanding of their own signs of stress and to teach in-the-moment relaxation tools
Solighten: A national interfaith provider network committed to healing the whole person (available across the U.S. and equipped for teletherapy)
Open Path Collective: a non-profit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office and online mental health care—at a steeply reduced rate—to individuals, couples, children, and families in need.
The Many Are Here: Online worship community with weekly services of lament at 8pm CT on Wednesdays.
Congregation for Clergy: a weekly service of worship designed for clergy of any denomination, hosted by Samaritan Counseling
LeaderWise resources: resources for clergy including counseling, assessment, and leadership development
Resources suggested by Disciples clergy
The following are not necessarily recommended or endorsed by the denomination.
From Rev. Floyd Knight: The Trauma Healing Institute (THI) has a global multicultural collaboration that has produced a common resource on facilitating and healing trauma to train clergy and laity in the local church how to minister to those who have and are experiencing trauma. https://traumahealinginstitute.org/