Mental Health & Counseling

Conference Care Meeting

May 8, 2023

In three weeks or so, the St. Mary’s Ontario congregation will host what is known as a Conference Care Meeting. These meetings used to be held semi-annually but since the pandemic have been resumed on a yearly basis. They are a two-day platform of lectures, presentations, sharing, and fellowship. These are open meetings and everyone is welcome. 

The care meetings have usually centered around understanding and caring for children from hard places, often defined as adverse childhood events related to early trauma in its many forms. Over the last number of years, a speaker specializing in this area has come in to help us better understand the challenges faced by these children, their parents, and affected individuals.  This presentation has included recommended practices for parents to better connect with these children and how to facilitate a healing journey. 

This year’s meeting will be held on May 25 and 26 and will follow much the same format as past meetings. Following is the planned agenda for those interested in attending or listening in. 

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Trauma Informed Lens and/or Interpersonal Trauma – Presented by Henry Milton from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development

The Impact of Technology on our Children – Presented by the Tech Committee 

The Wilderness Program and Sleepy Creek Boys’ Camp – Daniel Kaufman 

Breakout Sessions and mini-presentations: 

ADHD – Benny Friesen 

Teen Mental Health – Lee and Vila Gingerich 

Practical Support – Henry Milton 

Thursday Evening Service: Christian Fathers – Brent Schmidt 

Friday: Open mic/sharing, afternoon panel discussion (this is a closed session and not streamed or called out).

Streaming for Thursday’s meeting:

Call-in number:


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The meetings also provide breakout sessions and presentations on, for example,  trauma, ADHD, and dealing with physical handicaps. Thursday evening is usually reserved for a lecture given by someone from the Care Committee or Resource Team. Friday is a day of sharing, as individuals talk about the challenges they, their children, or their families have faced. Due to the nature of Friday’s meeting this is not called out. 

Having said all that, here are a few thoughts regarding this meeting. 

First of all, why should you attend? In general, if you or someone you know has children facing challenges, you will find this meeting a valuable resource in many ways. Beyond the lectures and presentations, you will find helps and encouragements through networking and fellowship with others who have been there. I have met many grandparents who have attended so they can be a better support to their children who are raising little ones from hard places. 

If you are a school board member – this meeting will give you better understanding of that one child who seems to defy the usual methods of teaching and training. It will serve to foster a deeper empathy and compassion for the struggle. 

If you are a staff member – this meeting may be helpful in giving a better understanding of what the members in your congregation face and struggle with on a daily basis. They need your support, encouragement, and compassion. 

If you are a schoolteacher – attend the ADHD presentation and breakout session and ask your hard questions. Listen to the lecture on Thursday and gain a better understanding of what is going on inside that precious little first, third, or sixth grade brain. 

Secondly, what can you expect from attending? A blessing, plain and simple. The Bible tells us to bear one another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ. The people that attend these meetings are looking for help. Many of them are hurting. Some have been severely wounded and life has not been kind. By attending you can support them, understand their struggle in a more comprehensive way, and give them the boost they need. Many of them have almost given up, some did give up, some have come through the battle and are here to share what they have learned. You will come away full. 

Thirdly, is this meeting only about children? The short answer is this: in the past the focus has been mainly on children. However, that seems to be changing a little and even though it does remain a focus, there is more discussion on other challenges our people face. The Friday sharing is certainly not only focused on children. For example, the Resource Team has presented and given updates on their work. 

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We look forward to seeing you there.


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