Hayward to Provide Leadership for Reintegration Event
The Rev. Lee Hayward, a clergy member of the California-Nevada Conference, appointed to a ministry of executive coaching and leadership development, will provide leadership and coaching for the denomination’s annual reintegration event next month for military chaplains (and spouses) returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The event provides pastoral care and support, intermixed with group and equine therapy. He will be meeting each day individually with event participants as they reflect on their individual experiences and chart their futures.
Given the long duration of the war and the multiple deployments of service personnel and chaplains, the United Methodist Endorsing Agency (an arm of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry) has been specifically concerned about cumulative stress and the post-traumatic stress associated with these deployments upon chaplains and their families. In response they have integrated an annual reintegration event for military chaplains and spouses. The program is held in the Rocky Mountains at First UMC of Colorado Springs’ John Wesley Ranch. The retreat setting provides individuals and couples significant opportunities for reflection, support, and self-care.
One chaplain and spouse who participated in the program provided this comment: “After one tour in Iraq and three to Afghanistan, my spiritual journey needed re-awakening and renewal. I found it difficult to focus, my energy was gone, decision making difficult, and I found sleep hard to come by…My reintegration to life as I knew it before the war has been difficult. So I began a process of healing in seeking wholeness. I discovered ways to become encouraged and explored soul care through various experiences…The intentional work with horses assisted our healing and growth on a ranch in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. God’s presence was real in the beauty of creation, sharing sacred stories, the unconditional love of a horse, and worship with fellow journeyers.”
With the downsizing of the war and yet with the realization that the issues of cumulative and PTS impact all pastoral care providers responding to trauma, UMEA is now expanding the program for all clergy endorsed community who respond to traumatic and crisis events as part of their vocation.