28 March 2022 | Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia [tedNEWS]
A young man looked up at the projected PowerPoint presentation and typed a message into his phone. He was learning how to listen for the relational needs underneath a person’s words, and how to respond with loving care. Within a couple of minutes his message helped to comfort and encourage someone in a crisis. Soon the person replied that they were now feeling calmer and able to cope. This is one example of the practical and powerful learning that happened during the Family Ministry Leadership Training (FMLT), which took place at Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia, from March 14-20th.
FMLT is a three-year-cycle of training designed to equip people working as leaders in family ministries departments in the Trans-European Division (TED) and Inter-European Division (EUD). The training is also available to interested pastors, and lay people who are working closely with family ministry leaders. After cancelling the training in 2020, due to the Covid19 pandemic, and then holding the training online in 2021, Karen Holford -TED Family Ministries director- and Pastor Rainer Wanitschek -EUD Family Ministries director- were delighted to welcome the participants back to a face-to-face training event. As the training focuses on supporting and improving relationships, a face-to-face setting was more conductive to learning than a virtual event.
This year Dr Daniel Duda helped the participants to understand the foundational theological principles for healthy relationships, and how to nurture marriages and families filled with grace. He inspired participants to work towards creating the safe and loving relationships that God intended us to experience with Him and with each other. These are relationships where there is “nothing to fear, nothing to hide and nothing to prove.” These are marriages and families with a joyful, grace-filled, and loving potential for continual growth and intimacy.
Karen Holford used her background as a family therapist to teach about interpersonal communication. Participants learned how to identify and express their own relational needs and how to understand and meet the relational needs of others. They also discovered how communication patterns and beliefs are created in families, how to explore and talk about forgiveness, and how to reduce conflicts and find safe ways to talk about tricky issues.
The presence of Dr. Gábor Mihalec and his rich experience provided added value, as he explained how to create a programme for supporting and enriching marriages. Mihalec shared the principles to develop deeper closeness and led practical sessions where students created their own seminar outlines to address different issues in marriage.
Sabbaths are a special time at FMLT, a time to explore a different dimension of nurturing family faith. Holford shared many simple ideas for sharing faith through the everyday experiences of parent/child interaction, following the principles in Deuteronomy 6. Followed by a practical and creative session of Godly Play, and other interactive worship activities, the activity was so engaging that some participants almost missed their lunch!
As the training concluded with a time of worship and presenting certificates, one participant sighed, “This is my last year… But please can we come back again because this is almost the only thing we do in the year that blesses us and enriches our ministry!”
Next year’s FMLT training will focus on spiritual parenting, human sexuality, family ethics and intergenerational worship. It will be held at Friedensau Adventist University during the week after Easter. If you are interested in more information, please contact Heidi Kamal at [email protected].