Question 22.  In the age we live, there are a great number of single parent/divorced families…What special needs do you see and how can you attempt to meet them? 

I can draw from my own past here.  I have been divorced.  I have been a single parent.  I am a step-parent, and even a step-grandparent. 

There is an overwhelming sense of loneliness that simply engulfs the divorced.  They are afraid, alone, often ripped apart from their children.  Sometimes, they feel alienated from friends, particularly at church.  They feel less than whole.  They feel like they are being judged, looked down upon, and shunned.  None of these things may be happening, but the overwhelming loneliness causes many doubts to arise. 

If these people are to stay sane and pure, they must have close fellowship with accepting, loving Christians who invite them to go for a meal, a movie, to play a game, to talk.  Just to feel someone’s presence with them.  To hug them, let them cry and grieve.  Divorce is very much a death; death without closure.   

For many, there is the added burden of children who need to be fed, helped to get ready for school in the morning, helped to understand where the other parent is.  Financial needs often become desperate.  Many times, a move away from a home they have all known for years is necessary.  Simple decisions become enormous, mind-bending choices.  Routines are destroyed; chaos often takes over.   

Community becomes so important here.  Meeting their needs is often overwhelming, and truly it takes many in the body to step up and meet those needs.  Just like when there is a death in the family, “being there” in those initial hours of separation to help them grieve is a most important thing.  But then, continue to be available often to offer support and help.  As a church family, we should be willing to step up with financial help, too, as well as emotional support.   

I would want to do as many of those things as I could, but as a minister, I would specifically want to get to know the congregation so well that I would know who to call on when a member goes through any crisis, including divorce.  Unfortunately, not one of us can know everybody that well.  That is why it is so critical that we develop small groups to act as “safety nets” as people experience crises in life.