One of the first stories I heard when I began to travel the country on behalf of the US Mission Network was about a young YMCA staff member going through a nasty divorce who had found significant  help by attending a small divorce care group meeting in a local church.   I had even suggested the group might want to consider moving their Thursday night meetings to the YMCA to attract more participants.

Since that trip in early 2014, I’ve learned of other Y’s that are exploring that idea. One such group is the Edwardsville YMCA in Southwest Illinois. The COO, Mark Fryer, wanted to see if his YMCA could establish such an outreach, so he contacted the nearby Metro Community Church. As a result of a now growing partnership between Metro Community Church and the Edwardsville YMCA, they are currently collaborating on two different programs, one of which is a Divorce Care program.

Have you experienced the heartache of divorce? Each Divorce Care group exercise features a video segment with an expert to help participates navigate the difficult emotions that accompany divorce (i.e. anger, depression, loneliness, etc.), and focus on topics that are essential to their recovery (i.e. financial survival, kid care, forgiveness, new relationships, etc.). After the video, participants join with others in a small group to discuss the video and share their own stories. There is also a workbook for daily reading and journaling that participants are encouraged to do on their own.

Metro Community Church is also providing 19 backpacks and shoes to the YMCA’s Early Childhood Development Center kids who will be leaving the Y’s program in August and starting school. Over half of these children are from low income families. These backpacks will be a great help as the students transition out of the YMCA program.

Gary Steffaniak, Pastor of Care & Recovery at Metro Community Church said this about the church’s ongoing partnership with the YMCA:
“We’re all about helping restore hope and wholeness to hurting people!”

When asked about it himself, COO Mark Fryer said,
“At the Y, we love to partner with other community groups to reach those in need. It’s why we are here!“