When Spring Hope native Andre Crawley and his wife divorced in 2010 after two decades of marriage, he was bombarded with a host of emotions.
The longtime Wells Fargo employee said there were few places to turn for help.
“Emotionally, for men, we don’t discuss it,”[/pullquote] said the father of two. [pullquote]“We suppress, we suppress, we suppress and we deal with it, and it is a time of extreme emotional discord.”[/pullquote]
Crawley said he is hoping to help others who find themselves in similar situations, through the DivorceCare ministry at United Metropolitan Misssionary Baptist Church. Crawley, who has been a member for over a decade, will serve as one of four facilitators for the DivorceCare divorce recovery support group, which is slated to begin Sept. 16.
“It has to come out. You can’t keep it bottled up because it’s a whole change in your life that’s going to take place,”[/pullquote] he said of the feelings that often accompany divorce. “…You’re not alone in this day and age, and it’s important to be able to exhale every now and then, because it is emotional. Men need an opportunity sometimes to cry and be okay with crying.”
Based in Wake Forest, N.C., DivorceCare is a comprehensive 13 week seminar designed to address the emotions and challenges that come with divorce and separation, provide support and spiritual guidance for those who are going through them and, at times, even promote reconciliation.
“Churches have not often approached divorce in ways that are helpful,” commented Rev. Prince Rivers, United’s pastor. “…I think the church just hasn’t really known how to do it. I think we’ve focused on the morality of the issue, which is separate from caring for the people going through the issue.”
Facilitators who have experienced divorce or separation themselves lead the groups through weekly workshops designed to help them cope with common fallout. Participants can follow their classwork up with daily journaling and exercises and suggested Biblical passages provided in the DivorceCare workbook.
“It’s biblical-centered,” said Cornelious Flood, who will be overseeing United’s program. “It’s not counseling, it’s not psychology, it’s all based on scriptures, the Bible. It’s all based on healing.”
United Metropolitan is thought to be the first predominantly African American church in the city to offer the program.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to reach out to people who are often in very difficult circumstances with respect to their relationships,” Rivers said. “…I think this ministry will be an opportunity to make sure that nobody has to go through divorce alone. I think it has a lot of promise for helping people to heal after difficult marriages.”
Flood, who has been married for nearly 14 years, says the concept of the program struck a chord with him.
“In the African American community as a culture, that’s not in our culture to seek out resources in our community when we’re going through several different trials and tribulations in our lives, but we need to,” commented the retired school administrator. “There’s a need out there in our community for DivorceCare for African Americans and we want to supply that need.”
City native Delores Lassiter has also signed on to serve as a facilitator for the program.
“This ministry is really needed because people don’t know what to do when you become divorced,” commented the grandmother of four, who parted ways with her husband 28 years ago. “You feel lonely, you feel ashamed. Even if you have support, it’s very hard.”
Lassiter, a retired educator, says she will draw on the lessons she has learned through her own experiences to help the participants in her class.
“If you have somebody who is divorced facilitating the group, they can understand what you’re going through,” she said. “…If you trust God, He will bring you through, and He has (brought me through). That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get involved.”
The program will be offered in two hourlong sessions, held each Monday from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and will be open to anyone in the community for a nominal fee, Flood said. He believes the spiritual support that it provides is an essential component in the healing process.
“Divorce is a devastating thing. It’s a loss. It’s like losing a family member or a death,” he commented. “I personally don’t believe that a person can get through such a tragedy by yourself. You need God, and that’s what DivorceCare is all about. It’s about God using us to help get you through.”
For more information about the DivorceCare concept, visit www.divorcecare.org. For more information about the DivorceCare program at United Metropolitan, contact the church at 336-761-1358.