In 2007, the Reverend Wendy Fenn served as Spiritual Director at Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH) and the Reverend Dr. Fran Shelton served as associate pastor for congregational care at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. These two Presbyterian pastors became acquainted through their extensive ministry and service to individuals and families who were in the process of grief and mourning. Both desired to offer comfort and encouragement to those they encountered. In addition, both were eager for congregations and faith-based service organizations to work collaboratively rather than competitively.
Wendy and Fran regularly met to share their faith and their experiences in serving those in the process of grief and mourning. They agreed to design a model of bereavement which would contain the following components of faith and understandings:
- Holy Spirit is the source of comfort and strength
- Grief is both a leveler and a uniter, bringing together persons from diverse faith traditions and backgrounds
- Pain of grief is intense and lingering calling for on-going support
- Personal stories possess the power to inspire and encourage
- Table fellowship and the breaking of bread instills hope
Their collaborative work, approved and supported by their employers, enabled the launch of Faith & Grief Luncheons on April 15, 2008 at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (PHPC), Dallas, Texas. The Reverend Dr. Blair Monie, PHPC senior pastor, served as liturgist. He welcomed 67 persons and their burden of grief into the arms of faith. Alice Court honestly spoke about her bewilderment and intense anger that encircled her grief related to the death of her 17 year old son, Brendan. Since then, multiple luncheons have been held, and hundreds of people have gathered and shared their stories of grief and healing.