The last three years have been a whirlwind for many. With the uncertainty in this world, it becomes more apparent that loss is a reality that all will have to face at some point in their lives.
Patty Marsh, Upper Columbia Conference director of Adventist Community Services, shared, “Too many deaths have intruded into the lives of members, families, neighbors and friends, begging the question, ‘What can we do to support those enveloped with grief?’ and the prayerful answer came in several forms.”
Heidi Jones, Renew Spokane program coordinator and hospice chaplain, took the lead in developing a program for those dealing with grief during the holidays. Renew Spokane is an innovative grant-funded program through Adventist Global Mission Urban Center, North American Division, North Pacific Union and UCC that develops resources to collaboratively serve the unreached urban community in Spokane. Jones partnered with five Spokane-area Adventist churches to provide a Blue Christmas service.
“Many find themselves processing experiences of grief, loss and loneliness amidst a season often filled with holiday bustle and merriness,” shared Jones. “We wanted to give these individuals a quiet place of beauty to be authentic with their feelings and reminded of God’s enduring presence with them amidst this time.”
Along with this service, Spokane Central Adventist Church held a grief group study with a six-session series presented by Faith for Today and facilitated by Gerald Haeger. The sessions created a space for those coping with grief to integrate into a group setting to provide support for each other and learn how to face their loss together.
Another resource UCC provides is a supportive newsletter focusing on grief and loss called "Peace, Be Still." Authors for "Peace, Be Still" include Adventist chaplains, pastors and grief counselors from across the country, sharing their insights on how to address grief and bring healing. If you are interested in signing up for the "Peace, Be Still" newsletter, visit uccsda.org/peacebestill.