Suicide & the Church
The 2008 Chaplain's Conference, entitled "Suicide and the Church", was held on Thursday, 15th May by the Presbyterian Church's Board of Social Witness in Church House.
The cross-denominational conference was attended by over 200 people and delegates included clergy and lay people of all ages.
Various speakers addressed the different aspects of suicide, according to their expertise and experience. Dr Paul Millar addressed the question, "Why do people take their own lives?" Rev Mairisine Stanfield, minister of First Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church, dealt with the issue of pastoral care, while Mr Peter McBride spoke about self care. Dr Kirsten Kearney addressed the question, "How do families survive?" and finally Mr John Wilkinson, principal of Dromore High School gave a school's perspective to the issue.
"Yesterday we were able to flow from the clinical to the theological with greater clarity than ever before", said Mr Lindsay Conway, Presbyterian Director of Social Services. "It showed how our Christian faith can be our encouragement and strength at the most difficult times at either a personal or congregational level."
"Churches have a vital role in the overall management of this major social issue - we are there at every stage of the process. We are very aware that this conference is the start of the process. We now have to think seriously about how we train ministers, youth workers and elders in the whole area of suicide awareness."
Dr Kirsten Kearney, speaking to delegates about a familiy's reaction to suicide said, "There ought to be space within this Church of ours, this faith of ours for those who suffer and those who struggle. Those whose problems become visible as well as those who keep them hidden."
"I would challenge you to be the solution, because you are the Church. You are the ones who decide whether to hold the door open and welcome in those who most need your help. You are the ones who can let God be judge and extend the grace and compassion of Jesus to those in pain."
- Setting the Scene - Lindsay Conway (MP3)
- Why do people take their own lives? - Dr Paul Millar (MP3)
- Pastoral Care - Rev Mairisine Stanfield (MP3)
- Self Care - Peter McBride (MP3) and also an accompanying Presentation
- How do families survive? - Dr Kirsten Kearney (MP3)
- A School's Perspective - John Wilkinson (MP3) and also an accompanying Presentation
If you would like some of these for your leaders or further details on any aspect of the Conference contact:
Taking Care Office
Presbyterian Board of Social Witness,
Belfast BT1 6DW
Tel: 028 9041 7229
Fax: 028 9041 7203