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First Baptist plans ‘Hope for the Holidays’ to deal with grief

Rev. Mary Jo Gessner, Minister of Pastoral Care at First Baptist Church of Madison, is coordinating "Hope for the Holidays." The lecture sessions for dealing with grief during the holidays will be held on Nov. 11 and 18. (CONTRIBUTED)
Rev. Mary Jo Gessner, Minister of Pastoral Care at First Baptist Church of Madison, is coordinating “Hope for the Holidays.” The lecture sessions for dealing with grief during the holidays will be held on Nov. 11 and 18. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – “Hope for the Holidays” can help people grieving the loss of a loved one. First Baptist Church of Madison will host two lecture sessions and suppers.

On Nov. 11, Martiel Mullis will present “Opening the Present,” offering a new perspective to expectations of the holidays. Mullis worked as a social worker with Hospice Family Care for 15 years. Currently, she volunteers as manager of Share House in Morgan City.

On Nov. 18, Rev. Laura Lemley will discuss “Sacred Self-Care” to assist individuals in finding spiritual strength after suffering a loss during the holidays.

Lemley worked at the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board in Richmond, Va. and earned a master’s degree in pastoral care at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. In Huntsville, the Lemleys attend Weatherly Heights Baptist Church.

Both sessions start at 5:30 p.m., are free and include a supper of soup, sandwich, chips, dessert and drink, Rev. Mary Jo Gessner said. Gessner is Minister of Pastoral Care at First Baptist. The church’s address is 4257 Sullivan St.

Gessner learned about the “Hope for the Holidays” approach from Rev. Carl Malm, director of the Center for Loss, Grief and Change in Huntsville. Malm has spoken frequently in Madison and allows First Baptist to use the title of his holiday presentations.

Hope for the Holidays is First Baptist’s annual November event. “We also have an on-going Loss and Grief Support Group on the second Tuesday of the month from 5 to 6:30 p.m.,” Gessner said. Gessner and Laura Elrod, whose husband Wayne passed away six years ago, facilitate this group.

This conversation-based group allows “folks to share what they’re going through, whether a setback or celebrating putting one foot in front of the other … or that they’ve joined a softball team,” Gessner said. She appreciates these individuals without much in common who share and respect differing ways to grieve.

To attend, individuals should RSVP by the Monday before the session by calling Lara at 256-772-9712 or emailing to secretary@fbcmadison.net.

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