Saturday, April 17, 2010

GriefShare at First Baptist Panama City Graduation Dinner

In 2008, we began a GriefShare ministry at First Baptist, Panama City, FL.  I had begun to realize that there were not many options for grief support in our community, and other than an annual deacons luncheon for widows, not much else was going on to help people dealing with grief.  I made an appointment to meet with one of the church staff ministers to ask what we might be able to offer to people in our church or in the community.  I also shared with Rev. Clyde Ellison that I had recently felt that God might be leading me to help others in this way.  His kind response was, "Sure, you could lead a group here at the church."

The moral of this story is when you go to a minister to complain that there aren't enough programs, you might end up leading one yourself.  That's what happened.  One of the administrative secretaries, Sara Ann Gay, and I began to look into programs and materials available and we found GriefShare.  It turned out that several years earlier, GriefShare had been offered at our church and there were still some huge VHS tapes in the church library, but of course no one still had a VHS player in 2008!  So new materials were ordered and soon the GriefShare kit with DVDs, workbooks, and a leader guide arrived.

What a journey it has been!  We have seen several groups - some small and some larger - come through the GriefShare ministry over the past 3 years.  It's been a blessing in my life and I believe it has made a difference in the lives of others.  We've had as many as four facilitators all working together over the years, and we've met inside the church building and most recently in a small building outside the main campus called The Truth Building.  This past week we held a graduation dinner for the most recent group that finished the 13 week program.  As with all the groups, they have a special bond that will survive the end of the program and reach into the rest of their lives.

Congratulations to all the GriefShare group graduates who had the courage to seek what God wanted to apply to their hearts - the hope He gives for those who have lost a loved one is one of peace and comfort.