New ‘Community Care Nights’ at CUMC help deal with grief

Concord United Methodist Church, one of the community’s oldest churches never stops looking for ways

to serve.

From partnering with three area churches on the Shepherd of Hope Food Pantry in Faith Lutheran Church, to building more than 20 Habitat for Humanity Homes, hosting its annual Mission Blitz during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, maintaining and offering a Community Garden along with many other daily and weekly projects in between.

During the last year, the church has added yet another new focus, “Community Care Nights.”

“In the fall of 2021, we started asking the question of what our community is and what it needs,” said the Rev. Brooke Hartman, CUMC pastor of Discipleship. “We talked with staff and members and others about what that might be, and realized the community is all of us, both inside and outside the church, and what we needed, after the pandemic and shut downs, was connection.”

Prior to the COVID closures, CUMC, 11020 Roane Drive, had hosted Wednesday night meals (which remain from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m.) and programs (6:30 to about 7 p.m.), but staff decided to take it a few steps beyond what had been offered previously.

“We wanted to open our doors — no strings attached — to members, non-members and at no cost, meaning the meals would be free, too,” Hartman said, adding, “Food is a very leveling experience. We all need to eat.”

As of Jan. 11, a new Grief Structured Group began under the direction of Dr. Ann O’Conner, who is one of the counselors working through the church’s Concord Counseling Center.

Topics covered will include: defining grief; acknowledging grief; grief vs. suffering; taking care of our insides; taking care of our outsides; and now what?

“The grief series will be structured and covers many life experiences,” Hartman said. “Every one of us has grief in our lives. It is not just death, but also loss, through divorce or other life changes. Our sermon series, “Good Grief,” also ties into the class.

“It is also all part of us keeping our ear to the ground, ensuring we are hearing what the community needs, and working to provide that,” she added.

“It is also part of just caring for each other and loving each other, as God tells us to do.”

Small adult group meetings such as the grief counseling, which include both men’s and women’s recovery groups, also culminate the evening’s events each week.

After the meal, a worship service begins at 6:30 p.m. — while children and youth programs begin at the same time — as the Rev. Larry Trotter, senior pastor, and Mike Stallings, choir director, lead the music, then Hartman typically delivers a 10-minute message, she said.

“We just asked people to show up, and it became a beautiful picture of God’s love,” Hartman said. “Families came with young children; single adults came, along with couples and widowed men and


“One great thing about it, is that it really is the only time all of us can be together at one time, since Sunday mornings we have four different services,” she added.

For more information about CUMC programs, visit