The first ACS Emotional & Spiritual Care session at the North American Division headquarters was held on December 11-12, 2018. It was conducted by W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS Disaster Response Director. Twenty-six pastors, lay members, and community service leaders took advantage of this opportunity which provided participants needed practical skills for critical incident response. The majority of participants were from the Chesapeake, Allegheny East, and Allegheny West conferences.
The session started out with the 2-hour ‘Special Issues in Emotional & Spiritual Care’ class which was followed by the 13-hour ‘Assisting Individuals in Crisis’ class forming a joint 2-day intensive program. Derrick presented useful tools and techniques on how to assess and reach people in various critical situations to meet their immediate needs. The session consisted of interactive lectures, group activities, videos, and role-play scenarios. Participants also shared stories and experiences of their encounters with individuals in crisis, and how they addressed their concerns. The session ended with the participants receiving their certificates, followed by a brief speech by Elder Debra Brill, NAD Vice President for Ministries, who addressed the attendees and also appreciated them for their dedicated service and efforts in community outreach.
The classes were well received. The participants found them to be extremely helpful in enhancing their crisis management skills to respond to individuals affected by a disaster or trauma by providing emotional and spiritual care. One pastor stated, “It is helping prepare me as a community pastor to minister to those who encounter emotional crisis." Another participant said, "These classes provided invaluable information that helps me better to be equipped to serve." The participants are now eligible to become a credentialed ACS Emotional & Spiritual Care Provider I.