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Ministries for Life Transitions

Life transitions are inevitable; everyone goes through them. They can function as an equalizer across races, classes, nationalities and other divisions. People can be at their most vulnerable and confused when they go through transitions. Loneliness, a sense of isolation, and vulnerability are common. However, people bond strongly when support is offered.

According to William Bridges,[1] every transition has three stages: an ending, a “between time” of gathering information and sorting things out, and acceptance and implementation of the new reality. Each of these stages brings its own needs, including a need for support and fellowship from other church members and a need for information.

As a church community, we believe that we can help people find meaning through the challenging transitions in their lives. We can provide support from others who have gone through similar experiences, who can offer their experience of the transition and be with others currently in the transition. It is a wonderful opportunity for our faith to be present in our lives as we move through the loss, the confusion, and the hope integral in this process.

Click below for groups and resources for further study on four life transitions.














Creative Aging

Meets the Second and Fourth Wednesdays of the Month, 7pm
The Creative Aging Group will explore, through the sharing of personal anecdotes, the aspects of continuing to work or retiring. We will discuss the how to create a lifestyle that encourages longevity (exercise, positive thinking, spirituality); expanding social connections in retirement (volunteering, learning groups); finding or expanding creativity (reviving old hobbies or finding new ones); relating to adult children and grandchildren; downsizing and aging in place vs. various independent/assisted living facilities; and adjusting to decline and loss (vocational identity, workplace friends, changes in own health or that of spouse). The emphasis is on finding a positive, proactive balance in life, with the recognition that each person approaches aging in a unique way, and there is no "right" answer. Contact: Susan Elliott.

For Further Study:

  • Bankson, Marjory Zoet, Creative Aging: Rethinking Retirement and Non-retirement in a Changing World (Skylight Paths Publishing), 2011
  • Bateson, Mary Catherine, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom (Knopf) September, 2010
  • Nelson, John E. and Bolles, Richard N., What Color Is Your Parachute? For Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future (Ten Speed Press, Random House) 2010
  • Raines, Robert, A Time to Live: Seven Tasks of Creative Aging (Plume) 1997
  • Trafford, Abigail, My Time: Making the Most of the Bonus Decades After Fifty, 2004

Chronic Illness and Caregiving

Meets the Third Wednesday of the Month, 7:00pm
If you are living with a chronic illness, you know that it can affect you physically, emotionally, intellectually, vocationally, socially, and spiritually. People with chronic illnesses live with conditions that last for a long time, perhaps even for a life time. Usually, the illness does not go away, even when the symptoms are controlled. Accepting that one must live with the limitations of a chronic illness can be emotionally difficult.

The National Alliance for Caregiving reports one in three American households includes a caregiver. While every situation is unique, there are common points that signal one is not just periodically “helping” but instead their role has shifted to that of a caregiver. Some have difficulty recognizing themselves as “caregiver.” The needs for caregiver self-care and support are crucial but often overlooked.

Both those experiencing chronic illness and people who are caregivers can feel isolated and lonely. However there is support that helps both the person with chronic illness, their families and caregivers, via web and book resources, educational forums and support groups. Contact: Susan Roach.

Web Resources:


  • Area Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Workshops: MD (Montgomery County), Kristen Wheeden, Holy Cross Health, 301-461-9881; MD, VA, DC, Lisa Carpenter, Kaiser, 301-816-5776,  (workshops offered wherever they have medical centers)
  • DC Department of Health, Joni Eisenberg, 202-442-5925  

For Further Study:

Coping with a Serious Illness

  • Huegel, Kelly, Young People and Chronic Illness: True Stories, Help and Hope. True stories about teens with asthma, diabetes, lupus, hemophilia, Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy and strategies for how to cope with chronic illness. (Free Spirit Publishing) 1998
  • Mace, Nancy L. and Rabins, Peter V., The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory 2012
  • Droege, Thomas, With Open Arms: Receiving Care with Grace and Gratitude 2005
  • Byock, Ira, M.D., The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care through the End of Life (Penguin Group) 2013

Support for Caregivers

  • Langshur, Eric and Sharon, We Carry Each Other: Getting Through Life's Toughest Times. Founders of CarePages. (Conari Press) 2007
  • Pogrebin, Letty Cottin, How To Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick (Public Affairs, Perseus Books Group) 2013
  • Sheehy, Gail, Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence (HarperCollins) 2011

Spiritual Support

  • Umbreit, Alexa and Mark, Pathways To Spirituality and Healing: Embracing Life and Each Other in the Face of a Serious Illness (Fairview Press) 2002
  • Fulljames, Michael and Harper, Michael, Prayers for Healing (Canterbury) 2004
  • Bauer-Wu, Susan, Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully with Serious and Life-Limiting Illness through Mindfulness, Compassion, and Connectedness (New Harbinger Publications) 201

End of Life/Bereavement

Six Weeks Bereavement Support Group Meets Spring and Fall
To join a session, contact Drema McAllister-Wilson.

Birth and Death: One we anticipate and celebrate. The other we ignore as long as possible, until death comes into our lives. Despite being a part of the life cycle, death and grief remain shrouded in mystery and often confusion and fear. Woody Allen once said, “I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens!” Can’t we relate? The topics of death and grief are ones many of us want to avoid. And yet, all of us live with the reality and the inevitability of dying and loss.

When we experience life transitions, we may find ourselves not only disliking the change but not knowing how to move through it to the other side. Life’s changes have three stages: an ending, a “between time” of gathering information and sorting things out and acceptance and implementation of the new reality. Each of these stages brings its own needs, including needing support and fellowship, need for information and need for ritual.

We hope these resources and the upcoming educational sessions will help in the journey after a loss or prepare for the inevitability of dying and loss. Contacts: Rev. Drema McAllister-Wilson and Janet Burkhart.

The Mourner’s Bill of Rights

  1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
  3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions
  4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits
  5. You have the right to experience “griefbursts”.
  6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
  7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning.
  9. You have the right to treasure your memories
  10. You have the right to move toward your grief and healing


For Further Study

End of Life

  • Lynn, Joanne, MD, Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness
  • Byock, Ira, MD, Dying Well (Riverhead Books, Penguin Putnam) 1997
  • “The Go Wish Game: Decide What’s Important, Together,”


  • Hickman, Martha Whitmore, Healing After Loss - Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief
  • Lewis, Clive Staples, A Grief Observed (HarperOne) 2009
  • Tatelbaum, Judy, The Courage to Grieve - The Classic Guide to Creative Living, Recovery and Growth Through Grief, 2008

Walking the Labyrinth

Take time for reflection. Labyrinths are simple: you follow a single path to the center and back out. Unlike a maze, there are no decisions - leaving you free to focus on inner thoughts

Nearby labyrinths:

 [1] Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2nd ed. 2004.