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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Gathered for hope

Congregation offers support group to help the weary cope

Terry Wenzl wants to get his left arm working again so he can play guitar, mandolin and banjo—mostly so he can teach Alexander to play. His 5-year-old grandson has been his inspiration during Wenzl’s three years of recovery from a stroke. The support group at his small San Francisco-area church is another source of inspiration.

The Pacifica Care Support Group at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Pacifica, Calif., started as a ministry to caregivers like Terry’s wife, Chris, who also was thrust into the role of breadwinner. Today the group reaches out to those experiencing a variety of other issues, including spousal abuse, loneliness, grief and loss, chronic pain and life-threatening illness. The group has 19 members, ranging in age from the 30s to the 80s.

“[The stroke] changed the spousal relationship quite a bit,” said Terry, 61. “It put a lot of pressure on Chris and made me feel like I was ‘less-than’ since I couldn’t support the family.” He credits the support group with giving them a place to express their “anguish and emotional hurts that get bottled up. It helps clear the air.”

“Alexander told me, ‘Grandpa, you’re going to get better,’ ” he said. “When I asked him how he knew that, he said, ‘My angels told me last night.’ It’s good to see that at such a young age he is experiencing the presence of God.”


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December issue

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