We are coming up on our 13th and final installment of the Sixty Minute Seminar series. Over the last three months, we have ventured together into both familiar and unfamiliar territory. I believe that there is something sacred in attempting to put words to the places we struggle —especially those places where the church is often silent. While we as a church may risk being misunderstood by foraying into these rarely explored conversations, I’m excited that it’s a risk we’re willing to take. Bringing the light of the gospel into shrouded places is worth it. This final week will be no different. Jeff Kern and Aaron Moore will lead us through the topic of suicide. Jeff Kern, as a member of our senior pastoral leadership team, will speak first to offer some theological and pastoral reflections. Aaron Moore will follow him. (If you attended the third installment of the Sixty Minute seminars, you will remember Aaron led us through the topics of depression and anxiety.)
This week will intentionally be a bit longer than the previous seminars—we could more fairly call it a Ninety Minute Seminar. The purpose of the extension is that we’re attempting to speak to three distinct audiences: those who have themselves struggled with suicidal thoughts or feelings, those who have been affected by the the loss of a loved one who has taken their own life, and those who have questions in light of our church’s story and are looking for perspective. The pain of suicide, in each of these cases, is often suffered in silence. Our hope with this seminar is to offer a place for us all to bring this suffering into the light of community.
Whatever the individual stories are that bring us to this seminar, the backdrop we all share as a community is the loss of former Senior Pastor Isaac Hunter in December of last year. The topic of this week’s Sixty Minute seminar will venture into all too familiar territory for our church family. We recognize this is sensitive ground for all of us, which is why Jeff will begin this conversation with pastoral guidance.
Jeff will talk about some key ways the staff and spiritual leaders in our community think about suicide and what that means for Isaac and for us. Aaron will follow him and offer some very practical steps for all of us to take as we learn how to be responsible to one another in community—particularly those struggling with thoughts of ending their life.
We all want Summit to be a place where no deed or struggle resides outside the boundary of where we are able to be present with one another. This seminar will help us gain access to lonely and desolate places where the gospel is needed most. I look forward to seeing you all there.
Written by guest blogger Jack West.