UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Retired fire chief Jim Grant (left) and minister Edward Murray helped launch a PTSD retreat at St. John’s United in Cardinal, Ont. Photo by Joe Martelle

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

By Joe Martelle


St. John’s United in Cardinal, Ont., has turned its old building into a new ministry. The rural church recently launched First Responders United, a program for front-line personnel, such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics, who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They will stay at the church for counselling and support during five-day residential retreats.

“At one time, there were over 200 children in our 10 Sunday school classrooms,” says Rev. Edward Murray. “If we were to bring back Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. on the same Sunday, I still don’t think we could get that many children in Sunday school again.” Typical attendance is now fewer than a dozen kids.

And so, with the blessing of the board and the participation of the congregation, the church renovated the unused space. Rooms that once served as classrooms were converted to sleeping quarters. Other areas became shared spaces, hosting retreat participants during the week and reverting to church use on Sundays.

“There are very limited programs in the country that are geared specifically for first responders."

Murray, who is also a clinical psychologist and a former member of the Ontario Provincial Police, hopes the ministry can reach some of the estimated 10 to 20 percent of first responders affected by PTSD, who might not otherwise be able to get treatment.

“There are very limited programs in the country that are geared specifically for first responders,” he says, adding that these programs are very costly. “A lot of individuals don’t necessarily have insurance coverage that will pay for the kind of treatment they need. What we hope to do is provide the opportunity at a very low cost — or, if they don’t have insurance, they can come for free.”

The first retreat was held in late February. Of the eight sessions available for 2018, four have already been booked.




Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Columns

Courtesy Aurora Coulthard

To those who said I'll only be respected as a minister because I'm pretty

by Aurora Coulthard

A young ministry student says Christians, both within and outside of the United Church, have discouraged her from following her call.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Editor/publisher of The Observer, Jocelyn Bell.

Sharing a meal with friends is a radical act of gratitude

by Jocelyn Bell

"I’ve begun to consider that regardless of how I’m feeling on Thanksgiving Day, the very act of preparing and enjoying a feast is an expression of gratitude in and of itself."

Promotional Image

Video

Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image

Justice

September 2018

Period poverty is a serious issue in Canada

by Angela Mombourquette

The high cost of menstrual products means many Canadians go without. Activists are seeing red.

Faith

October 2018

My church was literally dying, until we returned to prayer and confession

by Connie denBok

"No magic formulas. Just grace emerging through weakness."

Society

October 2018

4 Canadians with disabilities on the challenges they've faced in the workforce

by Diane Peters

Of the 14 percent of people in Canada with a disability, only half are employed. Companies are losing out.

Promotional Image