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Stephen Ministry Continuing Education

The Stephen Ministry Program is opening their upcoming continuing education to the congregation. Please plan to join us on the following dates.

Monday, October 2: Being Mortal, 7:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. optional), Fellowship Hall

Join us at 6:00 for a free screening of the PBS Frontline documentary Being Mortal. Based on the best selling book by Dr. Atul Gawande, this film explores the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness and their relationships with the doctors, the nurses, and family members who care for them. As a renowned surgeon and New Yorker writer, Dr. Gawande challenges people to reexamine how they think about aging and mortality and encourages preparations for future care needs and end of life deci-sions. A discussion will follow the film at 7:00 with Dr. Jehanne Gheith. Dr. Gheith is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and tenured professor in Russian literature at Duke University and in the Program in Education, teaching courses on Medical Ethics and End of life care. As an LCSW, she has worked for Duke Hospice and Bereavement Services and currently has a small private practice in psychotherapy focusing on trauma, grief, and pet loss. Despite or because of all that, she enjoys life quite a lot.

Monday, November 6: Reflective and Mindful Writing, 7:00 p.m., Fellowship Hall

According to The New York Times, the scientific research on the benefits of expressive and reflective writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders and immunity, lower pulse and blood pressure, help reduce symptoms, boost memory, and offer healing shifts in perspective. Writing can make peo-ple happier. In this session, we will experience this for ourselves under the guidance of Heidi Gessner, MDiv, BCC, as we take time to reflect and write. No writing experience necessary! Heidi is an Ordained United Church of Christ Minister who serves as the Bereavement Coordinator and Palliative Care Chaplain at UNC Hospitals. She felt deeply called to end of life and grief work after her own father’s journey and death. She developed and created UNC Hospital Bereavement Support Services with goal of attending to the emotional pain that is the result of loss and death. Heidi provides emotional and spiritual care, as well as grief counseling to patients, families, and staff. She collaborates with the palliative care team and refers chaplains to patients and families as needed. Heidi co-facilitates a weekly writing group at UNC Hospitals, Writing for Resilience, with writer and editor Carol Henderson. For more information please email Heidi at

Monday, December 4: Stress, Life’s Challenges, and Mindful Awareness, 7:00 p.m., Fellowship Hall

More and more people are experiencing what has become so widespread in our day and age: stress! It could be the diagnosis of a serious illness, the death of a spouse or partner, a difficult work environment, or the strain of caring for a loved one. We are constantly being blindsided by events that catch us unaware and disrupt our lives, so that nothing is as it was before. We might be uncertain about what to do or how to respond, but one thing is clear: life can’t continue the way it is. In this mindful mini-workshop, we will explore with The Rev. Tim Auman how stress shapes our brains, get in touch with what really matters in our lives, and reclaim our wholeness. Rev. Auman is chaplain at Wake Forest University. Originally from La Mesa, California, he is an ordained elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has degrees in religious stud-ies from Wofford College, an M.Div from Duke Divinity School, and a doctoral degree from Mahidol University. Prior to be-coming chaplain, Rev. Auman served as the United Methodist Campus Minister at WFU and UNC-Charlotte, has served two congregations, and has served as a Hospice chaplain. Rev. Auman has training in spiritual direction and mindfulness-based coaching, and has a background in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). He also directs the MindfulWake initiative at Wake Forest which helps students, faculty, and staff develop mindfulness practices that deepen self-awareness and increase a sense of well-being.