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Where Do Hurting Ministers Go For Help?

 I saw Tim recently at a wedding for the first time in a "coon's age," as we say in Alabama.  (I've never known how long a raccoon lives, but you know the expression.)

Tim graduated from seminary and served as pastor in a county-seat town.  He married a lady in the church and everybody was thrilled.  Later, however, she decided she didn't want to be married, and in spite of counseling and many entreaties, they divorced.  Tim lost his job.

Now Tim is a special education teacher.  He told me he'd gone back to school and earned degrees enabling him to do this work, which he loves.

Tim is a good example of someone making a transition from ministry to another vocation after experiencing trauma.  Some aren't as fortunate as he.

The Ministering to Ministers Foundation (MTM) of Richmond, VA specializes in offering counsel and hope to ministers undergoing stress.  The centerpiece of this ministry is the weeklong Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreat featuring intense group and individual therapy, and sessions on recovery, continuing education, and physical health.

For the past two years, MTM has held their Alabama Wellness Retreat on the campus of Judson College in Marion.  MTM Director, Dr. Charles Chandler, told me he enjoyed coming to Judson because "the people are friendly, the local churches are cooperative, and the food is good!"

MTM will return to Judson College on June 16-20. The Baptist, Presbyterian and United Methodist churches here in Marion have underwritten the cost of room and board, welcome gifts and refreshment breaks for the past two years, and will do so again this summer.  And more importantly, the congregations have prayed for the success of the week.  This is significant since MTM protects the confidentiality of all participants, so the churches are praying for men and women they've never met and whose names they do not know.

The ministers and spouses who will join us in a few weeks will have painful stories to share in an environment of compassion.  They will be full of hurt and many will be depressed.

It's been worth the late nights and grueling therapy to see these men and women leave on Friday with a smile on theirs faces and hope in their hearts.
Some will go back into full-time ministry, while others like Tim will not.  But as Dr. Chandler likes to say, "You can lose your pulpit, but you don't have to lose your ministry."

God uses people in every vocation to do his work.

Michael J. Brooks is an Associate Professor of Communications, and Assistant to the President for Public Relations at Judson College