People who are hurting from the sting of divorce are urged to find refuge in DivorceCare, an educational support and discussion group offered at First United Methodist Church, 200 Market St., from 6-8 p.m. each Monday evening.
"Divorce has become commonplace in our society, even in Christian circles," said coordinator and leader Heidi Ketzko. "Satan has targeted marriage and the family as his first priority in spiritual warfare. He knows that if he can break up a marriage, he can impact the next generation."
"Our churches today can be a great source of encouragement and love by taking an active role in the lives of those who have been affected by divorce," Ketzko added. "Personal encouragement, ministry programs and support groups can provide a place for healing and hope. But perhaps the most important way to encourage is to take time personally to love a broken family and show them the power of having a bold faith. Ask God to allow you to provide hope, help and healing for someone who is experiencing the pain of divorce. Be an encouragement to those who need it, when they need it most, and show them that God is not finished with their lives yet."
"I believe First Church has become that place of healing and hope through the DivorceCare ministry, which began in 2003," Ketzko said.
"One participant was able to call her ex and apologize and forgive him," said Ketzko. "She could never have done this without the program's help, she told us. She feels a load has been lifted and she can now move on with her life."
The program has provided hope, help and healing for those experiencing the pain of divorce, Ketzko explained.
"It has helped me learn to pray for my ex and not condemn him but learn to forgive him," said another participant. "This, in turn, helps build up my own self-esteem and makes me feel like I'm a worthwhile person again."
Another participant agreed, "It has helped me see the bigger picture of divorce, to look at it in a more Godly way, to be able to bring some good out of a bad situation."
DivorceCare offers stability during a time that divorced men and women feel their foundations crumbling.
"It has helped me regain composure and calmness in my life," said one woman. "The class gave me a lot of strength, internally."
One participant believes the classes and videos should be a prerequisite to marriage.
DivorceCare will begin a new session Monday, Oct. 8. The 13 sessions are offered in succession, so participants can attend at any time.
Meetings are generally attended by fewer than 10 people, offering an intimate setting in which to discuss the materials each week. Participants range in age from mid-20s to elderly, are male and female, and are involved in the ends of marriages that lasted anywhere from a short time to many decades. Some have even attended that have or are contemplating divorce.
DivorceCare offers a daily Bible study, which is optional for participants. Session information is offered in the form of workbooks and videos on healing, anger, depression, loneliness, new relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation and more. Time for discussion follows.
The church also offers DivorceCare4Kids, for children ages 5-12, which runs concurrently with the DivorceCare program for adults.
Registration for the sessions is not required. For more information, contact Ketzko at the church, 723-4930.