The coalition recognises a fresh need for churches to provide support for bereaved people, as our society has begun speaking more openly about bereavement in recent years.
The project’s new website is intended to be a hub to resource, or direct churches to resources, in the lead up to someone’s death, in their funeral ministry and in supporting the bereaved throughout their grief journey. Churches are being invited to share ideas and initiatives to help equip each other in becoming loss aware and to support the bereaved.
Loss and HOPE, which is being jointly run by AtaLoss.org, the Church of England, Care for the Family and HOPE Together, aims to serve churches of different denominations across the UK.
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Over the last few years in this country, there has been a real opening up of conversations about bereavement in our society. We’re beginning to realise the huge impact that losing a loved one can have on every area of a person’s life. As a result, increasing numbers of people are likely to reach out for help to process loss – and this is presenting the Church with a special opportunity for outreach to our communities.
“I’m really excited about Loss and HOPE, because it’s not just an initiative – it’s a movement. It’s about resourcing and encouraging churches – across the denominations, across the country – to work together in offering the compassion of Jesus and love of God when someone is bereaved.”
The Church of England’s Head of Life Events, the Revd Canon Dr Sandra Millar, said: “For decades, death and grief have been treated as a very private matter, a taboo subject not to be discussed in public. But now this mindset is changing: almost every week there are news articles, podcasts and interviews with people who acknowledge the impact that the death of a friend or family member has had on their life.”
The Revd Canon Yvonne Richmond Tulloch, founder and CEO of AtaLoss.org, said: “This subject is presenting the Church with a new opportunity for outreach into our communities. However, for this to be effective it is vital that we have proper understanding, since bereaved people’s experience of church is not necessarily what we would like it to be. We mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking we’ve got the subject covered just because we once had training. The conversation is evolving.”
Paula Pridham, Executive Director of Care for the Family, said: “We know that some churches are further down this road than others, which is why we are asking three questions: What can you offer? What will you do? What do you need?”
Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, Assistant Director of HOPE Together, said: “Throughout Scripture it is clear that God has a particular concern for those who grieve. This new initiative offers a very practical way to demonstrate compassion and hope to the communities we all serve.”
To find out more and get involved, visit www.lossandhope.org