Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
The Atlanta Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Church members experienced grief due to over 20 deaths of loved ones from 2012-2014. During that time, the church provided an annual 12-week GriefShare program during the first quarter and an annual one-day Surviving the Holidays program during the last quarter. While participants appreciated the programs, some, including those who provided grief support, expressed concern that there was too little follow-up after the GriefShare and Surviving the Holidays programs. Pastoral observation suggested that the church needed an expanded bereavement support structure over a longer period of time.
A two-year plan was developed to enhance the existing grief support ministry. In addition to the first-quarter GriefShare and fourth-quarter Surviving the Holidays programming, a Grief Relief Spa and a follow-up meeting were added during the second and third quarters respectively. Additional team members were recruited and trained in order to sufficiently host the added activities. Surveys, focus groups for participants and team members, and the evaluation of notes from debriefing meetings after each program were used as methods of evaluation.
Eleven participants agreed to join the project during the first year and three additional people joined during the second year. Eight church members volunteered to join the grief support team for the project. Over 90 % of the participants were females and most participants were over 60 years old. The average time since their experience of loss and the first support group session was seven years. There were many others who participated in the grief support activities, but chose not to participate in the project. Participants and team members were not concerned with the longevity of the grief support, but with the continuous presence and availability of grief support ministry as part of the church’s ministry to its members and to the community. Hosting quarterly activities was the maximum workload the ministry team could handle, even though they desired to do more for the participants. They also wanted more training in the various areas of grief support.
The study revealed that participants and team members acknowledged the constant need for grief support ministry at Atlanta Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Church. Though the goal was to provide a timed grief support program for individuals navigating grief recovery, the time factor was not the main issue for participants and team members. Rather, the availability of a grief support ministry that was integrated into the life of the church and included multiple and varied activities to assist them throughout the grief journey. Additionally, the grief support team members highlighted the need for continuous training on how to tackle the various issues that arise during grief recovery.
Grief--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Church work with the bereaved--Seventh-day Adventists; Atlanta Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Church (Atlanta, Ga.)
Thomas, Harold III, "A Two-Year Grief Support Program for Atlanta Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Church" (2018). Professional Dissertations DMin. 714.
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