How They Helped Me Recover
It was so unexpected!
I could not understand why it was happening. How ‘they’ could let me go.
My programs were successful.
I had faithfully served in this church for eighteen years.
I was hurt.
I was embarrassed.
I was angry. I did not know what to do next.
How would I recover?
These were just a few of my thoughts when I was relieved from my position as Music Director, organist, and choir director.
Bewildered, I reached out to a beloved clergy couple, my husband, and my organ professor.
They were sympathetic but did not know how to help me.
Another clergy friend had gone through a similar event at his church.
He called me and told me about Ministering to Ministers and their retreats to help injured clergy.
He had attended a retreat and found it to be healing.
But I was skeptical.
I was not sure they could help me, a music director, and I was not sure I was ready to share my story.
Then, Dr. Charles Chandler, the founder of Ministering to Ministers called me (at the request of my friend).
I was still reluctant to believe that the retreat could help me but Charles was persistent.
In the end, I agreed to attend the retreat.
I drove eight hours to Carson-Newman College in Tennessee.
I did not know what to expect for the next four-days and was feeling unsure of my expectations when everything began.
I was surprised to see ministers from different denominations, youth directors, and even another music director present. Plus, I was not the only female.
After the first evening I began to feel a little more relaxed.
The next couple of days were full of activities with leaders. Meals, snacks and plenty of time for talking and sharing of our personal stories were included throughout our stay.
We began to laugh again. I soon realized I was not alone in this. More people, more ministers like me were feeling the same pain I was.
It was unfortunate to learn that there were other churches with a gang of five who could disrupt a minister’s life like the one at my former church had.
I was struggling with how to forgive and forget these individuals, getting ‘let go’ and move forward in my ministry.
This made me ask questions like:
Were my talents still to be used for God’s service?
How could I trust another church to hire me?
I found out the answer is yes.
The retreat helped us all to look at what we could do to help ourselves in another church setting.
This was a refreshing next step.
Speaking of feeling refreshed, the most moving event for me happened on the final night of our stay.
Dr. Chandler and Dr. Ross Campbell talked with each person in the group about what they believed was holding each person back from their healing.
When they came to me, they identified several things.
After they finished, the entire group offered me encouragement.
Then they surrounded me and offered prayers for healing and moving forward with my life.
It was truly wonderful.
Many happy, healing tears were shed.
Til this day, I still feel the warmth of this group of hurt ministers reaching out to pray for me.
Every minister in our group got to experience this.
By the final morning, we were a different group.
We discussed books that would continue our healing.
We discussed how to write resumes and share them.
We had shared so much of ourselves.
And were given back so much more in return.
As we left for home, we felt we had new tools to move forward and with God’s grace we did.
We were refreshed and ready to take on whatever God had in store for us next.
-Dr. Patricia Jo Kinman Avery
To register for the 2021 Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreat, click here.