Story and photos by Charmaine Robledo
Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church
Exploring new ways of doing healing ministry for veterans and others affected by war was the core idea during the Soul Repair Community in Conversation held March 15 at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church in Monument, Colorado. About 35 people attended the inaugural event, sponsored by the Mission & Ministry Office of the Rocky Mountain Conference.
The Reverend Youngsook Kang, Director of Mission & Ministry, said "our hopeful outcome for today's conversation is to have a Fresh Expressions community of Soul Repair."
Fresh Expressions is a movement that begun in the United Kingdom that "seeks to transform communities and individuals through championing, resourcing and multiplying new ways of being church," according to its website (www.freshexpressions.org.uk
). The Fresh Expressions community for Soul Repair "will provide a safe space for our veterans to share their war experiences," according to Rev. Kang.
The Rev. Larry Graham, Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology and Care at the Iliff School of Theology, gave the keynote address on "The Road Home from War Leads Through Memorials and Healthy Lamentation." Graham said there are three processes by which we lament and memorialize trauma: We name our pain, we interrogate causes and we reinvest our hopes by recommitting to our strongest values.
"All of this is a healing process," Graham said. "All of this is a road to take to move from the trauma of war ... to re-entry into the community and to rebuild one's life. These resources are a matter of strength, not a matter of weakness."
Prior to Graham's presentation, the Rev. Michael Jarrell led "A Service of Lamentation" and communion. At the service, people were invited to light a candle and pray "for ourselves and those who hurt," Jarrell said, "that we might know peace, that we might know healing."
The rest of the event was led by Doug Lyons, one of the members of the planning team, who facilitated dialogue around Soul Repair and the next steps in these conversations. Other members of the planning team include Linda Lyons, Ken Hazlitt, and Youngsook Kang.
The video presentation from Rev. Larry Graham will be available online at www.rmcumc.org/videos
later this week.