Understanding Trauma: The Important Role of Faith Leaders in Healing

So, what is trauma? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, trauma is a shocking, scary, or dangerous experience that can affect someone emotionally and physically. Trauma is a person’s emotional response to a distressing experience like a natural disaster, parental loss in childhood, physical violence, sexual assault, military combat experiences, auto accident, and other accidents. Few people can go through life without encountering or being impacted by trauma. Moreover, how we respond to trauma is unique and different and research show that trauma can adversely impact us throughout our lives. 

Over the last seventeen months, children and adults throughout the United States have witnessed continuous traumatic events.  From the alarmingly number of deaths due to the COVID pandemic to the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest, these events have been traumatic for children and adults. The impact of acute (one-time), chronic (repeated), and complex (multiple traumatic events) trauma have disproportionately affected communities of color. 

As a result, communities of color are increasingly turning to their churches, pastors, and faith leaders for help. The demand for pastors and faith leaders as first responder among congregations and communities of color are growing as traumatic events are constant. For instance, after the recent shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas both students and families of color turned to their pastors and church leaders for guidance and support.  Now more than ever, churches, pastors, and faith leaders must become trauma informed. 

The times demand that our churches become safe places—physically, emotionally, and spiritually and that is why the Resilient Church Collective: A Trauma-Informed Community Network (Resilient Church Collective) is so significant. The Resilient Church Collective will help enable congregations serving people of African descent, and other people of color to thrive by supporting and guiding churches to establish a framework for trauma-informed healing. 

Over the course of the next five years, approximately 50 Texas churches will have the opportunity to participate in the Resilient Church Collective. Rural, urban, and suburban churches are all eligible. Participation in the program is gained through an open, competitive process. Alliance’s Resilient Church Collective is an extension of our mission to transform marginalized communities so that all people have opportunities to thrive.  To learn more about visit Resilient Church Collective

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Christie Dobbins

Community Engagement Specialist

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