Grant Renewed for Trauma Program at EMU


Rev. John McCollough, executive director of Church World Service, and interim EMU president Beryl H. Brubaker exchange symbols of their ongoing partnership in the STAR program. (Photo by Jim Bishop)

Church World Service (CWS) of New York City has awarded $1 million to the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University to continue a university-based training program to work with religious leaders and caregivers in areas affected by trauma.

CWS gave an initial grant of nearly $1 million to establish the STAR (Seminars on Trauma Awareness and Recovery) program at EMU in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

The announcement of the grant renewal came during a Sept. 11 dinner meeting at EMU of representatives of CWS and CTP. The STAR program is sponsored by Church World Service and the denominational members of the CWS Emergency Response Program Committee.

In his remarks, John L. McCullough, CWS executive director, stated, “Trauma attacks human capacity, and can leave one numb, with feelings not only of helplessness, but if left untreated, then even more dangerously – hopelessness.”

“A real part of the tragedy of September 11th is not so much that Americans were awakened to our own vulnerability to national trauma, but that we had failed to recognize the prevalence of traumatized peoples all over the world,” he said. “The STAR Program has provided a vivid demonstration of this truth, given the wide breadth of participation.”

“On behalf of Eastern Mennonite University, we express our deep thanks for making all this possible and for now trusting us with additional dollars to further expand this program,” Interim President Beryl H. Brubaker said in her response. “We are grateful to CWS, for the churches that have joined in this effort and for the EMU personnel who have made this program a success. And thanks be to God who has spoken to the hearts and minds of all who have chosen to join this partnership,” she added.

Dr. Brubaker and Rev. McCollough exchanged symbols of the partnership – a specially designed and inscribed acrylic plaque from CWS and a ceramic bowl from EMU.

The program, which began in early 2002, is sponsored by Church World Service and denominational members of the CWS Emergency Response Program Committee: American Baptist Churches USA, Week of Compassion (Christian Church-Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, International Orthodox Christian Charities, Lutheran Disaster Response (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Presbyterian Disaster Response (Presbyterian Church USA), Reformed Church in Amerca, United Church of Christ/Wider Church Ministries and United Methodist Committee on Relief. Other funders include the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Mennonite Disaster Service and private individuals.

The program, based at Eastern Mennonite University, provides monthly five-day training courses for religious leaders in the New York metropolitan area and elsewhere in the country as well as for clergy from outside the United States whose countries have experienced trauma.

STAR has offered 20 seminars – 19 on campus and one in South America – involving nearly 400 participants since the program officially began in January, 2002. Carolyn E. Yoder directs the STAR program and, along with CTP faculty members, leads the sessions.

The grant funds will allow STAR seminars to continue on the EMU campus through December 2005. This will include additional introductory seminars, at least one seminar conducted in Spanish and others especially designed for Muslim or Jewish participants.

The grant will also provide for opening a New York City office and hiring a coordinator for continuation and follow-up work with congregations and communities there, specialized training for STAR alumni to begin leading workshops on their own and the development of STAR-type work in seminaries being requested by several denominations.

The program