There are many devoted disaster response teams in the Iowa United Methodist community, but a new style of post-crisis care is emerging in the conference.
“Our whole motivation in disaster ministries is to be a caring, Christian presence in the midst of disaster,” said Rev. Catie Newman, the Iowa Disaster Response Coordinator. “Now, we'll have a Spiritual Care Team.”
The first of many Spiritual Care trainings was held at the Conference Office on Oct. 23. The training started from the ground up, covering the basics in listening skills, the grief process, and how people react emotionally in a disaster. Dr. Mary Bellon, Director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling, assisted Newman in teaching clergy and lay persons how to apply their caregiving skills to a recovery situation.
“After a disaster, a tornado or flood, we could send a small team of caregivers to a church or to a community who would be listeners for everyone,” said Newman.
“Everyone” includes not only those directly affected, but first-responders such as firefighters, police officers, and other emergency personal who are assisting in relief efforts.
“Sometimes people who have experienced a disaster can be scattered or have trouble getting their thoughts in line,” said Newman. “One of the things we talked about today was how to be with someone who is in that constant state of turmoil and be helpful and caring.”
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) previously had a Spiritual Care component, and other United Methodist conferences have already adopted programs as well. Newman is excited to bring the Spiritual Care trainings to Iowa.
“With UMCOR's blessing, we're adding to our arsenal of disaster response skills,” said Newman.
That arsenal is composed of Early Response Teams, Chainsaw Teams, and Volunteers in Mission to name a few. Newman added that this Spiritual Care Training would be a great addition to anyone already participating in the program.
If you are considering getting involved at any level, Newman says you need to have a “heart for listening and caring” and be at least 18-years-old.
To learn more about an upcoming Disaster Ministry Training near you, email firstname.lastname@example.org