Embracing God's Future Without Forgetting the Past: A Conversation About Loss, Grief, and Nostalgia in Congregational Life
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Embracing God's Future Without Forgetting the Past: A Conversation About Loss, Grief, and Nostalgia in Congregational Life  -     By: Michael K. Girlinghouse
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Embracing God's Future Without Forgetting the Past: A Conversation About Loss, Grief, and Nostalgia in Congregational Life

Fortress Press / 2019 / Paperback

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Product Description

Many congregations today are dealing with changes that have led to decline and significant loss. In Embracing God's Future without Forgetting the Past, Michael K. Girlinghouse argues that until a congregation comes to terms with its perceived losses through a healthy process of grief, it will be paralyzed in the present and unable to think creatively about the future.

Acknowledging and expressing grief will give the congregation the courage to redefine its relationship with the past and draw strength and encouragement from its memories as it steps into the future.

Drawing on more than thirty years of ministry experience in varied settings and concurrent study and teaching about loss, grief, and nostalgia, Girlinghouse shows clergy, church staff, and lay leaders how they can work through the experience of loss and grief, both personally and in their congregation.

Part 1 discusses loss and grief using a contemporary, task-based model for the grief process. It also introduces recent research on the value of nostalgia.

In part 2, Girlinghouse helps leaders tell their congregation's story, including its losses, examine how that story fits in our current social context, and explore ways to accept the reality of its losses and express grief over them.

Part 3 considers ways congregations can think more adaptively and creatively about the future without forgetting or devaluing the past. Girlinghouse presents appreciative inquiry as a tool to discover and build on a congregation's strengths while coming to terms with its losses.

Part 4 is about embracing God's future for the congregation, "remembering forward," and making the changes necessary to move from the sadness of loss to the joy of taking up life again.

Each chapter includes a Bible study and questions for reflection and discussion.

Product Information

Title: Embracing God's Future Without Forgetting the Past: A Conversation About Loss, Grief, and Nostalgia in Congregational Life
By: Michael K. Girlinghouse
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 180
Vendor: Fortress Press
Publication Date: 2019
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 X 0 (inches)
Weight: 14 ounces
ISBN: 1506458882
ISBN-13: 9781506458885
Stock No: WW458885

Publisher's Description

Many congregations today are dealing with changes that have led to decline and significant loss. In Embracing God's Future without Forgetting the Past, Michael K. Girlinghouse argues that until a congregation comes to terms with its perceived losses through a healthy process of grief, it will be paralyzed in the present and unable to think creatively about the future.

Acknowledging and expressing grief will give the congregation the courage to redefine its relationship with the past and draw strength and encouragement from its memories as it steps into the future.

Drawing on more than thirty years of ministry experience in varied settings and concurrent study and teaching about loss, grief, and nostalgia, Girlinghouse shows clergy, church staff, and lay leaders how they can work through the experience of loss and grief, both personally and in their congregation.

Part 1 discusses loss and grief using a contemporary, task-based model for the grief process. It also introduces recent research on the value of nostalgia.

In part 2, Girlinghouse helps leaders tell their congregation's story, including its losses, examine how that story fits in our current social context, and explore ways to accept the reality of its losses and express grief over them.

Part 3 considers ways congregations can think more adaptively and creatively about the future without forgetting or devaluing the past. Girlinghouse presents appreciative inquiry as a tool to discover and build on a congregation's strengths while coming to terms with its losses.

Part 4 is about embracing God's future for the congregation, "remembering forward," and making the changes necessary to move from the sadness of loss to the joy of taking up life again.

Each chapter includes a Bible study and questions for reflection and discussion.

Author Bio

Bishop Michael Girlinghouse has served congregations and campus ministries in Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Oklahoma and has taught as an instructor at the university level. He currently serves as the bishop of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod, ELCA. Bishop Girlinghouse is a devotional writer and has led a variety of workshops and retreats. He is married and has an adult daughter.

Editorial Reviews

"In many ways we have lost the means to talk about grief. The church in North America is in the midst of change, and much that we knew and experienced post-World War II is disappearing. In this book, Girlinghouse not only names the loss and grief many congregations feel but encourages them to acknowledge it and work with it. His insight that nostalgia is not a disease but a powerful tool to move into the future is liberating." --Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

"Transformational congregational change is required today. But Michael K. Girlinghouse knows that the grief of loss must first be confronted, not avoided. This book is full of deep, courageous wisdom, showing pathways for congregations to move through tradition into mission, discovering the promise of God's intended future." --Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, author, Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century; General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America

"Michael K. Girlinghouse has listened to a litany of nostalgia for the church of the past. In this insightful book, he encourages readers to find new ways of being church through respectful remembrance, development of rituals for grieving, then adapting by embracing practical techniques for living into a vibrant and authentic future." --Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Emeritus, 1517 Media; Principal, Getting2Transformation.com

"As is often said, 'The only thing that is constant in life is change.' Congregations that are healthy learn how to address the changes they face and continue to minister effectively in their communities. Not grieving the losses of past glory can get in the way of being flexible and adapting to changing circumstances. Girlinghouse's book gives useful information and practical exercises for doing this. This book will be very helpful to congregations willing to do this work." --Ronald W. Richardson, author, Creating a Healthier Church

"Michael K. Girlinghouse has brought together his background teaching about grief and his experience working with congregations as a bishop to write a well-grounded but practical book. The material in these pages will help any congregation that has been over focused on the past to find healthy ways to honor what was, so they can move forward into what God knows can be." --Dave Daubert, DMin, PhD, Day 8 Strategies

"As an intentional interim minister who has helped congregations move through transitions my whole career, I know Girlinghouse's book is one I will keep on my shelf. It is full of wise, practical guidance for leading congregations through grief and loss, even while pointing them toward a future and a hope. Chock full of examples drawn from his years as a campus pastor, congregation pastor, and bishop, Girlinghouse draws upon contemporary grief and bereavement literature, organizational development theory, and Scripture to create a toolkit for every pastor, particularly those leading a congregation through a time of transition." --Norman B. Bendroth, Professional transitional specialist and author of Interim Ministry in Action: A Handbook for Churches in Transition

"Michael K. Girlinghouse knows the heart of congregations. He also knows they want to move forward but seem to cling to the past. This book unlocks the secret to bridging the gap and helping the people of God move forward." --Bishop James Hazelwood, New England Synod, ELCA

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