About the Project

Purpose of the Project

The Purpose of the Project is to resource churches to respond in a healthy way to the impact of tragedies, local and global, through training ordinands in good practice, careful reflection, and personal resilience.

Congregational flourishing can be jeopardized when tragic events threaten ordinary frames of meaning within which groups of worshippers live. This can lead to symptoms of trauma, and to communal narratives that are refractory to healing. How then can Christian congregations be helped to respond with integrity, courage and compassion to tragedies, including those that seem to have a scientific explanation?

Good ministerial practice in such situations, in the form of initial practices of compassionate action, conversation, liturgy and prayer, and subsequent reflection on theological motifs, can help congregations respond with honesty and compassion, and integrate events into their explorations of life with God.

Particular Problems to be addressed

  1. How can trainee ministers be empowered to minister with confidence, self-awareness and resilience in situations of tragedy? How can their initial training inculcate formational qualities that enable them to respond with wisdom to such situations? What range of practices and processes will enable them to resource churches?
  2. How can tragic events be related to the narratives of Christian Scripture and doctrine – in preaching, prayer and worship, and in discussion groups – in ways that allow honest exploration of feelings and searching theological reflection on the nature of God?
  3. How can scientific understandings feed into that exploration?
  4. How can the resources of lament & psalmody be deployed in tragic situations?

Opportunities for training institutions

There is an opportunity to book the team to come for 1, 2 or 3 days to do focused work with groups of ordinands (or curates).

Outline of programme:

  1. The individual and social psychodynamics of trauma.
  2. Churches as natural responders to tragic situations. Responses in the acute phase – liturgical, practical and pastoral.
  3. Broader consideration of the minister’s pastoral role, including the vital topic of ministerial self-care.
  4. Theological reflections: exploring ongoing life with the God who has allowed the tragedy to happen.