By Trevor Allsion
Baylor Spiritual Life will offer a “Service of Consolation and Hope” at 8:30 p.m. Monday in Miller Chapel inside Tidwell Bible Building. The service is intended to support and encourage those who have experienced the loss of a loved one in their lives.
“It’s a response to the general sense of loss we’ve had in the Baylor community,” said Chris Gibson, ministry associate for pastor care in spiritual life. Gibson will be leading the service.
Baylor Chaplain Burt Burleson said the university usually offers a similar service in the fall semester before Christmas to reach out to students who might grieve more for lost loved ones around that time of year.
“We do this service in the fall and decided to have another service in the spring as we began dealing with our losses of six students in three months, which was overwhelming,” Burleson said.
He said he decided doing the service in the spring was the best way to respond to these tragedies.
“We felt the campus and community needed an opportunity to gather and be real,” Burleson said. “People being up front about their feelings will bring legitimacy to worship.”
The sharing of real feelings is a key part of the grieving process, he said.
“We feel like there is a path toward healing when we bring what is real into the presence of God,” Burleson said.
The service will also coincide with Holy Week. Burleson said the story of the suffering of Christ, and how the story goes beyond grief and suffering to healing and resurrection, is an encouraging parallel to those who are grieving.
“This is not all there is,” Burleson said, “We want them to know that though life may be different now, there is more life to be lived.”
Burleson said the service will include a scripture reading, a short sermon and a chance for friends and loved ones to come forward and speak to honor those who have died.
Gibson said the service will display the connection between grief and hope.
“The service will have [a] liturgy that focuses on grief and hope that reflects the narrative of scripture,” Gibson said. “We are people who are longing, but are not without hope.”
Burleson said he hopes the service will be an inspiration to those who are grieving.
“We are trying to encourage those who were close to the students who died and students who have lost loved ones,” Burleson said. “Pain is better borne together.”
Gathering with others is part of the grieving process, Gibson said.
“We wanted to create an environment for people to grieve together,” Gibson said. “There is a safe place and a necessity for grieving and mourning.”
The service is open to everyone, not just those who are grieving, Burleson said.
Baylor offers several resources for those who are dealing with the loss of loved ones. The Baylor Counseling Center, located on the second floor of the McLane Student Life Center, offers assistance to those who may be dealing with grief. The center can be reached 24-hours-a-day at 254-710-2467. Baylor Spiritual Life can be reached at 254-710-3517.
For more information about the service, contact Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org.