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SSB’s Church Administration to address random violence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Stunning acts of random violence, such as the recent tragedies in Jonesboro, Ark., and West Paducah, Ky., are the subject of an article in the July 1998 issue of Church Administration, a magazine published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Ministry to Victims of Random Violence” is one of several articles related to pastoral care in the magazine for pastors, church staff, church officers and committee members. The article’s author, Joe B. Williams, is chaplaincy and community ministries specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. His experience includes serving as FBI chaplain in the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Williams writes that while churches and other caregivers rally around victims of crime and their families, “in many cases pastoral care consists of a few visits, prayer, sympathy cards, flowers and a funeral … . The concept of trained people to respond to local church members involved in random violent incidents seems practical.”
Many times people cannot immediately identify the help they need, though those who pay caregiving visits typically will say, “If you need anything, call me.” Williams suggests listening may be the ministry most needed at such times, with visits over a period of weeks or months.
A care team, he writes, can serve as support people who are trained “to stand alongside of people who have experienced trauma as the result of violent crime and give encouragement and support.” Training in how to help victims express their emotions, along with referral lists of professional services, are among resources Williams recommends. He includes an eight-phase model for providing help from the immediate aftermath of the violent act through the process of recovery and suggests sources for training sessions to equip care teams.
Other topics in the pastoral care issue include ministry in circumstances of slow and painful death, missing people, shameful situations, loss of hope, as well as the dangers of codependency in pastoral care and the need for pastoral care multipliers.
Church Administration, which features a different content theme each month, is available on the dated resources order form from the Sunday School Board or through on-line ordering at the agency’s Internet site, www.bssb.com.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis