Albertville Breakout Sessions

Navigating Through
the Wilderness of Grief

Stacey Johnson
Shepherd's Cove Hospice

In this interactive workshop, the presenter will facilitate a learning experience adapted from Dr. Alan Wolfelt's teachings on "When Grief is Complicated: A Model to Understand the Wilderness of Complicated Grief". As an individual called to companion a griever struggling in the wilderness, it's our job to join them. Often times that job makes us feel overwhelmed, lost and undone. Wolfelt teaches it is not the grief companion's role to carry, lead or find the way out, it is our responsibility to bear witness, ensure shelter, offer support, explore tools, implement safeguards and promote hope. Join this session to learn how to strengthen families who are walking in the wilderness of grief.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

The objectives of this learning experience:
1) Understanding complicated grief
2) Identifying complicated grief symptoms
3) Companioning people living in the wilderness of grief
4) Identify what makes a family strong

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


“CHURCH HURT”: Becoming a Trauma
Informed Congregation

Sherrie Hiett
Family Services of North Alabama

Every church has experienced "church drama" at some point. It can be distracting, destructive, and divisive. When most want to dismiss it or become frustrated with the drama, it's important to look deeper. What we may be seeing are symptoms of childhood or even recent trauma. From the outside, it may look like chronic sickness, irritability and complaining, intense and deep disillusionment and may even cause strife among the church. Learn how to recognize these issues and minister to those who are deeply hurting, which could very well save lives ... physically and spiritually.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Learn what it means to be trauma-informed and why it's so important
2) Understand what ACE's are and how they can affect your congregation
3) Recognize the link between trauma and "church drama"

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Shame and redemption:
Shattering the stigma of addictions

Brandy Johnson & Shane Tidwell
Recovery Services

There is a stigma in our society regarding addiction and this stigma often makes addicted or recovering people, their families or friends and the church community feel frustrated, confused or helpless. Stigma factors into the planning or justifying of getting some form of help for the addicted individual. As a society, there is a lack of education regarding addiction as a disease, so most people simply don't know how recovery works. Addiction is a disease and the dangers of addiction must be communicated as such. As stigmas about addiction and treatment are reduced, people suffering from the disease will be more confident to step forward and receive help. Addiction stigmas can only be changed through action - your action. Join us today in talking about and smashing the stigma of addiction.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Define and discuss addiction and the impact it has on the church community.
2) Provide factual information about the disease concept and harm reduction.
3) Heighten understanding of stigma and enhance your capacity to engage in effective stigma prevention/reduction.
4) Promote healthy and open dialogue about intervention and treatment.
5) Provide information and referral sources for treatment and long-lasting recovery

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Ministering To the Front Lines of Mental Health:
First Responders and PTSD

Lindsay Taylor & Roy Brown
HopeSprings / Guntersville PD

First responder suicide rates are at an all-time high. Increased tension between the public and law enforcement combined with the stressful nature of the job make this population extremely vulnerable to symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often dealt with in silence and solitude. These brave men and women bear witness to tragedy on a daily basis and are often the front-line response to those suffering with mental health issues, yet the last to seek out help for themselves. This breakout session will utilize first-hand knowledge and experiences from both a licensed mental health professional and a law enforcement officer to help attendees better understand the needs of the first responder population. Participants can expect to learn more about the daily struggles of those in the field and practical strategies for ministering to them.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES
1) Improve knowledge and understanding of the mental/emotional perspective of first responders
2) Gain insight around ways to support first responders’ involvement on the front lines of mental health in addressing the recurrent issues and crises encountered due to lack of effective resources.
3) Increase awareness of first responders’ spiritual needs- including the concept of moral injury
4) Provide practical strategies for ministering to first responders

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Thorn in the Flesh: Chronic Pain

Melissa & Jubal Matthews
Jubilee Family Chiropractic

During this breakout session, Drs. Matthews will discuss the foundational building blocks of health through the lens of the Bible. This session will include where our health comes from, how health can be lost, and how health can ultimately be restored. A key part of this topic will be the role the brain and spinal cord plays in this process through the Brain Reward Cascade which plays a key role in modulating emotions, pain reduction, and an increased sense of wellbeing. They will discuss why this is important for church leaders, mental health professionals, and the lay person to know about. Lastly you will be given some tools to help empower you with an increased understanding of the relationship between chronic pain, opioid addiction, and steps to naturally help reduce our cultural and community dependence on such medications in relieving chronic pain.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To understand and appreciate the innate design of the body
2) To explore the innate intelligence within the body in relationship for healing
3)To understand the relationship between the nervous system, emotions, and pain
4) An introduction to a health care model focused on healing from above-down-inside-out
5) Empower the church with tools to help heal your community

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Ministering to Families
with Special Needs Children

Jason & Sara Hague
Christ's Center Church

In the special needs community, church is often a sore subject. Many families with children on the autism spectrum (or other special needs) have abandoned church altogether, not out of conviction, but out of sheer exasperation. As much as they would love to find their place in the body of Christ, their situations have proven too complex for local congregations to accommodate. In this session, Pastors Jason and Sara Hague will discuss how churches can be better prepared to welcome these precious children into their midst, and to minister to the hurting hearts of their parents.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Explain the difficulties special needs families face which often prevent them from taking part in church fellowship
2) Present a light-weight, flexible strategy for building special needs ministry into existing children’s ministries
3) Describe the unique challenges and hurts special needs parents face, and discuss the best ways the church can minister to them

Social Workers 1.5 CE


The Church of invisible diseases

Jeremiah Johnston
Ph.D., M.A., M.Div., B.A.

Suicide within the church is at crisis levels. A focus on mental health and achieving holistic wellness is more important now than ever for our nation. From the rise in the suicide rates (both inside and outside the church) to the ever-growing opioid crisis, it is clear that we must be intentionally active in providing quality mental health services to individuals and families. The church not only has a role in providing these services, but also in demonstrating the ways in which they serve as an apologetic to the rest of the world. Caring for the mental health needs of others can and should be a practical application of the gospel that leads unbelievers to the truth.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Understand the growing mental health crisis and how suicide is one of the most underreported phenomenons within the church
2) Identify the biblical principles that support the church’s involvement in providing mental health services and specifically speaking about suicide
3) Learn how to practically apply these biblical principles in the mental health services that the church provides
4) Participants will be challenged to rightly interpret the Bible so that our scriptures are presented as agents of healing, rather than misunderstanding and misrepresentation.

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Unexpected Pregnancy and Abortion: The Church & Community's
Call to Respond

Jennifer Lopes / Patsy McWhorter / Sharon Ainsworth
Crisis Pregnancy Center

This session is intended to increase participants’ awareness and understanding when ministering to those who are facing a pregnancy decision or who have an abortion past. Education around post abortion trauma, statistics, best practices, and recovery resources for counseling and healing will be covered. The presentation will include first-hand accounts of the mental and physical impacts of abortion and where to go for help. Participants will leave with a list of national and local resources and an action plan for serving in their own church or community.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Apply communication skills with someone who is facing a crisis pregnancy by offering options including parenting and adoption
2) Identify post abortion trauma symptoms and offer tangible resources with partnering agencies
3) Understand the appropriate terminology when ministering to someone facing an unplanned pregnancy or a post-abortive family

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


I Will Not Leave You as Orphans: Supporting those in the Foster & Adoption Care minstry

Dustin & Lindsey Teat
Connect Church

The focus of this breakout session is to discuss how parents can lead their foster/adopted child to a place of healing and how the church can walk alongside foster/adoptive families in the community to give support. Trauma is hard and messy but when families and the church are both adequately equipped, it creates a healing environment and is a beautiful picture of the Gospel at work. Jesus wasn't afraid to get messy to love the vulnerable and hurting around Him, and He calls His church to do the same.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To equip parents with practical tools in leading their foster/adopted child to healing from past trauma.
2) To equip the church to effectively minister to families involved in foster and adoption care.

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Close to Home: Stigma and Mental Health Within your Own
Church and Family

Nick Longshore & Holleigh Woodward
Lifepoint Church / Silver Linings Neurodevelopment

On a national level, strong attempts are being made to address the mental health issues in our society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness within a given year, thus indicating a serious public health crisis. However, navigating the needs and creating a space for those struggling with mental illness can be a challenge for communities, churches, and families. Stigmas, as well as other obstacles, continue to hinder individuals from seeking the help that they may need, leaving individuals and families vulnerable and isolated. This session has a dual focus: First, to address the mental health stigma that exists within the church and explore ways to care for those struggling. Second, to support individuals who have experienced mental illness within their family and discuss empowering strategies to practice care for self and others.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Explore the mental health trends that effect families and the church
2) Identify the mental health stigma(s) within the church and community
3) Discuss how to recognize and respond to mental and emotional needs
4) Promote self and family care as it pertains to mental health

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


Infertility:
The Silent Depression & Anxiety

Amy & Robert Ekis

There is no avoiding grief. For the 1 in 8 couples who have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy this grief is particularly nonlinear and compounded. It is important for these couples to grieve their many losses in purposeful ways in order to make meaningful steps towards parenthood. Infertility can also strain family relationships and friendships. Understanding the loss and trauma a couple encounters is necessary in order to bring encouragement and support. The focus of this breakout session is to bring encouragement and biblical counsel for those walking through infertility. With first hand experience this discussion will center around biblical truth, practical coping strategies, and how the church can be equipped to minister to families who are suffering.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To provide biblical, moral, and theological counsel and support for those walking through infertility
2) To encourage those wrestling with big questions and doubts
3) To offer practical wisdom to spouse or family members of those struggling with infertility
4) To answer the question, “Is God kind when my prayers for a child go unanswered.”

Social Workers 1.5 CE


Blended Families:
BREAKING THE STIGMA

Dustin and Kathryn Dodson
Connect Church

This workshop is designed to help churches navigate the challenging “white waters” of handling blended families. We will explore effective step-parenting techniques, communication, legal issues, and relationship strategies and how the gospel can bring healing and renewal to even the toughest situations.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Learn to work out the implications of the gospel in the family
2) Discover God's design for blended families
3) Open up new and better pathways of communication
4) Set aside naive expectations for the family and create realistic ones
5) Explore multiple ways the church can implement these strategies for step families

Social Workers 1.5 CE


RACE, Ethnicity & MENTAL ILLNESS:
MOVING BEYOND STIGMA

Dr. Robson & Lisa Marie Araujo / Brandon K. Love
Connect Church

A 2015 study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) reported that those identifying as Black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian were among the least likely to use mental health services. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are more likely to experience homelessness and exposure to violence, thereby creating both a greater need for mental health services and additional barriers to receiving appropriate care.   Within the Hispanic/Latino community, issues such as privacy concerns,  language barriers and lack of information on mental health symptoms contribute to the stigma of mental illness.  Across all minority races, hindrances to seeking appropriate care can be attributed to many factors, including but not limited to: cultural differences, socioeconomic factors, misdiagnosis, provider bias and general distrust.   Unfortunately, research has shown a lack of cultural competence in mental health care and this needs to change if we desire to minister to these populations.  In this breakout, we will explore the many ways race and mental health are connected as well as learn how the community and church can be part of the movement to break down these isolating, debilitating stigmas.  

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) Provide information around how race and mental health impact each other.  
2) Offer opportunities for participants to become aware of their own stigmas/perceptions that could hinder their ability to minister to these populations
3) Share practical steps and tools for the church and community to help people of color experience healing, mentally and emotionally

Nurses: 1.8 CE
Social Workers 1.5 CE


The Perpetual Problem of Pornography and Purity in our Pews

Justin Worden
Albertville First Baptist Church

Immorality is everywhere and porn is now accessible at any time. Recent reports show that 68 million search queries related to pornography (25% of total searches) are generated daily, and approximately 40 million American people regularly visit porn sites. When it comes to marriages and families, it is said that pornography use increases the marital infidelity rate by more than 300%. Something must be done and the church can help! This breakout session is designed to help pastors, church leaders, and individuals understand the addiction of pornography and help guard the hearts and minds of those who struggle with it.

BREAKOUT OBJECTIVES

1) To inform ministry leaders of the overwhelming use of and outlets for pornography today
2) Enable leaders to better equip families to protect their children in this digital age
3) To provide resources (books, apps, and websites) to better help men and women overcome the addiction of pornography
4) To discuss practical ways of providing life-changing accountability to those in our churches and communities who struggle with purity

Social Workers 1.5 CE