Guidance professionals consider dealing with divorce one of life's most difficult adjustments, but until a local church introduced a divorce recovery workshop, Rim country residents had nowhere to turn.
"One of the things Presbyterians do when they look for a new pastor is to complete what's called a mission study," Charles Proudfoot, pastor of Community Presbyterian Church, said. "Part of that is looking at the needs of the community, the needs of the congregation, and developing a kind of profile, and one of the things that was identified in that process is that there were a lot of unmet social service needs."
While Proudfoot, who came to Payson 16 months ago, mentioned good jobs and affordable housing as two major areas of unmet local needs, he noted that divorce is the issue that affects the most people.
"One of the statistics that is national but is very true here is that 60 to 70 percent of all marriages end in divorce, so divorce is more common than any other marital state," he said.
The need is so great that word traveled quickly when the Community Presbyterian governing board began considering a divorce recovery program.
"Both Lee Kennedy and William Houdek of Rim Guidance came to us and said, ‘You don't know what kind of need there is in this community. We want to be part of it.'"
Proudfoot, Kennedy and Houdek developed a workshop and staged a low-key trial run last fall.
"We had seven or eight people and really tried out our wings," Proudfoot said. "We got lots of feedback saying, ‘Boy, this is really needed,' and participants were most appreciative in their evaluation."
Encouraged by the results, the group decided to offer the seminar on a regular basis. The next one begins Tuesday, Jan. 20, with sessions from 6-8 p.m. through March 2.
The goal of the workshop, while simple, is vital to resuming a normal life.
"It's how not to make the same mistakes a second time or a third time," Proudfoot said. "How do your learn from this unfortunate situation that hurts and continues to hurt. How not to do it again."
The workshop is totally non-denominational, Proudfoot said.
"Anybody can be helped through the process," Proudfoot said. "It just happens to be at a church. In one of the sessions we talk about forgiveness and point out that's a theological concept. If there are theological questions we tend to answer them, but we don't raise them."
Proudfoot, who most recently was a pastor in Alamosa, Colo., has done divorce recovery work in other parishes, including individual counseling. Kennedy and Houdek, both counselors at Rim Guidance, have successfully rebuilt their own lives after experiencing divorces.
The workshop, which costs $25, will be held at Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main Street. The fee includes a copy of "Growing Through Divorce" by Rev. Jim Smoke, on which the workshop is based.
Free childcare will be provided for infants through 10 year olds.
For more information or to register, call (928) 474-2059 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.