June 30, 2022

Local Church Establishes Virtual Grief Support Ministry

Initiative is a response to the loss of several church members in 2021.

Shane Hochstetler, Southern Tidings

The Montgomery First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, United States, has suffered the loss of several church members in the past year. 

“Seeing so many people that were mourning, seemingly alone, and uncertain of what to do with their grief was difficult,” Cynthia Bush, Grief Ministry leader for Montgomery First, said. She felt inspired to start virtual grief-support group meetings centered around the services of GriefShare to help. 

“We prayerfully wanted to remove common barriers that might prevent some from attending in person,” Bush said. “Our prayer is that, through compassionate resources, biblical education, and prayerful Christian fellowship, the bereaved will learn through their grief stories and be drawn closer to their refuge in Jesus Christ,” she added.

Bush said the group started meeting in November 2021 on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central time via Zoom videoconference. “Participants began to share how the meetings were helping them to understand what they were experiencing,” Bush said. 

Local church pastor Dan Thompson explained, “This Grief Ministry reaches many, both within our fellowship and others who need comfort from wherever they are. The virtual format allows us to reach a much wider community, truly.”

Bush added that all are welcome to attend. “We’ve been blessed with participants as far away as Bermuda,” she said.

GriefShare is a biblical, Christ-centered, non-clinical support group product that offers training for facilitators, educational videos, support resources, and small group discussion guides that trained laypersons can conduct. “The guidelines for participating in the support group help us to navigate the particulars of a virtual setting,” Bush said.

Local church head elder Bernell Mapp explained that “grief is a shadow hanging over humanity. Yet, despite knowing that we are destined to experience death, we remain woefully unprepared when it comes. Thus, it was essential for an educational component to be included in the vision for this ministry.”

Bush agreed. “We recently started our second session of GriefShare, with many alums from the first session joining us once more while testifying to a healing quality of this support group that we believe is an answer to our prayers. The success of the meetings has come from a praying team of Grief Ministry volunteers that are trained and committed to the weekly meetings. This is not a venture that anyone should host on their own; it takes God’s leading, prayer, and a joint effort of mature Christians.”

Church leaders said they are thankful that, through technology, they can cross state borders and reach overseas to offer compassionate support.

The original version of this story was posted by Southern Tidings.