Posted by: mollyrossiter | March 20, 2009

Comfort in the storm

Dave Olsen flips through his Bible during a discussion at New Covenant Bible Church in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Dave Olsen flips through his Bible during a discussion at New Covenant Bible Church in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Carol Montag had been going to the “Seeking Jobs, Seeking Him” support group for the recently unemployed at her church since it started in late February.

At its third weekly meeting on Monday, she had an announcement to make: she’d been given a job offer and would be “graduating” from the group. In fact, she said, she had to leave early because she needed to call the prospective employer to accept the position.

The remaining 11 members of the group gathered in the library at New Covenant Bible Church congratulated Montag and wished her well.

Their celebration was short-lived; less than 30 minutes after Montag left, another man who had moments earlier learned he’d been laid off opened the door and took her place.

It’s the recession and that unemployment rollercoaster that have many churches and faith groups offering comfort and support for those in trying times. The continued recession and rising unemployment have created a new group of those who are hurting, said the Rev. Gayle Wilcox, associate pastor at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids.

“We start by reminding them that this is a hurt like other hurts,” Wilcox said. “Like someone who is going through a breakup or many other kinds of loss, the loss of a job is definitely an injury.”

Montag found the group at New Covenant to be like a lifeline.

“I think it gives you a real peace of mind,” she said. “When something like this happens you’re angry, you want to yell. This calms you down, helps you to stop dwelling so much on what happened and start moving forward.”

That’s what the Rev. Tye Male and others envisioned when they first started discussing the New Covenant group. Although Male is there to lead the group each week, he is quick to remind them that he’s just the facilitator.

“I was touched by this issue, that there is this need,” he told the group earlier this week. “But this is your group, this is your time to interact, to share your stories.”

Each group offers participants an opportunity to share their experiences, but also provides something more: human resources and job coaches give resume tips, interviewing hints and other job-seeking assistance.

The groups are about more than job-seeking assistance, however.

“I’ve done a lot of job hunting in my lifetime,” said Ed Wischmeyer, a Ph.D. and former Rockwell Collins employee, who also helps with resume preparation and interview tips at the New Covenant group. “I’m not in it for the interviewing skills, I’m in it for the community.”

Wischmeyer has only been in Cedar Rapids for 18 months and hadn’t had much opportunity to build a support system before losing his job.

“These kinds of activities are invaluable to me,” he said.

Dave Olsen flips through his Bible during a discussion at New Covenant Bible Church. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Dave Olsen flips through his Bible during a discussion at New Covenant Bible Church. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Thanks for this article Molly. Our group is open to those outside the church as well. We have not “gone public” yet just because we were trying to get our feet on the ground and figure out where this is going.

    If anyone has questions they can email me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: