Trauma, the brain and how churches can respond

Event Date: 
Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 8:30am

About the program
Join us for the morning as we build upon our fall seminar. This event will discuss the effects of trauma on the brain and one’s ability to function or grow in adulthood. We will begin the discussion of resilience and how the brain can recover from trauma, or rebuild connections for a healthier life. Also, we will hear from three local individuals about their work to make their churches trauma-informed and the programs they have in place to address the trauma experienced by their congregants. You do not need to have participated in the fall session to participate in this event.

8-8:30 a.m.: Registration and breakfast

8:30-9:30 a.m.: Dory Lawrence
Dory is Oaklawn’s manager of employee training and an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) trainer. By day, Dory ensures that Oaklawn staff have the training they need to work with clients and maintain credentials, but by night, she trains community members through ACE Interface. In this seminar, Dory will lead the ACE Interface training, which includes what ACEs are, their effect on children, what it may mean for them into adulthood and how we can better assist these individuals into leading happy and healthy lives.

9:45-11:15 a.m.: Nancy Michael
As we learn what ACEs are, it is also important to discuss resilience. Hear from Nancy Michael, director of Undergraduate Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Notre Dame. Nancy will discuss the newest brain research on resilience, how the brain can “heal” from trauma and what we can do to help that healing take place.

11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Panel with local church leaders
Ryan Cooper, lead pastor of Covenant Community Church
As a result of sharing personal stories of trauma and abuse, Covenant Community Church has engaged in intentional conversations, formational small groups and training seminars to develop emotional health and build empathetic advocates for our community. As a result, we have identified the importance of and taken steps toward a healthier, more hospitable, physical environment. Additionally, our Christian formation practices include developing resiliency and emotional health. We are not experts in this field but we are learning and adapting best practices as we journey.

Monica Oke, leader of Orphan and Foster Care Ministry.
While on an inner-city missions trip at the age of 16, Monica’s heart was moved with concern for children growing up in at-risk homes. After graduating from Bethel College with an elementary teaching degree, she went on to teach second grade for several years in a high poverty school. For 12 years she directed the SALT mentoring program at St. Mark Missionary Church, working with at-risk youth and their families. Monica and her husband have been foster parents for 3 1/2 years with Benchmark Family Services and have had more than 20 foster children in placements and respite care. They have three teenage sons and attend St. Mark Missionary Church where they help lead the Orphan and Foster Care Ministry.

Ryan Yazel, pastor of city engagement at City Church of South Bend.
Ryan, along with his wife and three daughters, have lived in underresourced neighborhoods in South Bend since 2003. He spent 12 years as the pastor of the Keller Park Church before joining the pastoral team for South Bend City Church in late 2016. Ryan’s experience interacting with trauma comes through time spent with trauma-affected neighbors, experience with the local homeless and recovery communities and life as a foster and adoptive parent. He leads South Bend City Church in their efforts to become a trauma-informed community of faith for the neighbors of South Bend, including foster care and adoptive families, by helping to shape trauma-informed environments, practices and theological frameworks.

This seminar is sponsored by the Oaklawn Faith and Mental Health Advisory Council, an ecumenical group of pastors and religious leaders who advise Oaklawn staff on issues of faith and mental health.


Contact Kari Tarman, 574-533-1234, ext. 2066;

Continuing Education
3.0 CEUs for psychologists, social workers and counselors.

$20 (Includes registration fee, CEUs and breakfast )

To register for the event, click here
Faith & Mental Health Advisory Board Members
Jerald Turner, Dunlap United Methodist Church, Elkhart, chair
Ruben Chupp, North Main Street Mennonite Church, Nappanee
Dan Haarer, Silverwood Mennonite, Goshen
Steve Latzke, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, South Bend
Rachel Nafziger Hartzler, Goshen
Frances Ringenberg, Prairie Street Mennonite Church, Elkhart
Charlene Roth, Marian Mennonite Church, Lagrange
Jay Shetler, Maple City Chapel, Goshen


Oaklawn Staff
Kevin Farmwald, Oaklawn spiritual care coordinator
Greg Fry, chaplain, Oaklawn, The Children’s Campus
Laura Wiebe-Powell, chaplain, intensive services, Goshen


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