Workshops help clergy help congregations in crisis

Crisis can strike in many ways — a bus accident, a fire, a school shooting. When a church is affected, it falls to clergy to help the congregation through the crisis.

Wilton Baptist Church will be the host for a free pastors training conference on helping congregations deal with traumatic events Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27. Registration is required.

Clergy and Crisis is a conference in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy and will feature speakers Greg Hunt and David Lane.

According to Wilton Baptist Pastor Jason Coker, the program has been put together by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The mission, he said, “was to produce a conference to help the helpers,” those who have to deal with crises and trauma. “We will train clergy, counselors and care providers” on how to lead congregations through such events.

“We are reaching out to all of Fairfield County,” Mr. Coker said. “It is an interfaith event but it will have a faith component.”

Parishioners are welcome to attend as well as clergy of all faiths, chaplains and private counselors and care providers.

The program will begin at 8 Friday with a light breakfast. There will be two morning sessions with Mr. Hunt followed by lunch catered by Bon Appetit of Wilton.

A general session from 1 to 2:30 will give an overview of trauma followed by a trauma response program. The rest of the afternoon will be devoted to small group discussions, and the day will wrap up with a panel discussion from 5 to 6.

Saturday’s session from 10 to noon will include brunch and an opportunity for informal conversation.

The speakers

Greg Hunt is a faculty member in the psychology department at Mercer University in Atlanta, Ga., as well as the author of Leading Congregations Through Crisis. The book was written following a tragic bus accident that took the lives of two church members, an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl.

Mr. Hunt was senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., in July 2009 when a bus carrying a church youth group to an event in Georgia flipped on Interstate 20 in Mississippi, killing the young man and injuring 23 others. The girl died of severe head injuries three weeks later.

According to press reports, the congregation learned of the accident shortly before Sunday morning worship and used the occasion to rally together in prayer.

“Our congregation is leaning on our faith and confidence in God,” Mr. Hunt told USA Today.

David Lane is a professor of counseling and director of the doctoral program in counseling at Mercer University. Working with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, he led four trips to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to train pastors, teachers and community members to work with trauma victims.

At the time he told the fellowship, “Essentially, we would train trainers, who can teach fellow Haitians lay counseling. We see this as something that can be very meaningful for a group of hurting people.”

He is co-author of The Story of the Gold Stone: Working with People Affected by Trauma, the trauma recovery program his teams used in Haiti.

For more information or to register for the conference, call the Wilton Baptist Church at 203-762-2429, email or visit The church is at 254 Danbury Road.