I’m so honored and thankful to be writing to you for the first time as the new CEO at First Image. Recently, I’ve hinted at things that have been happening behind the scenes here, and I’m excited to share some of these with you in the coming months. In April, as we’ve finished the Lenten season and celebrated Resurrection Sunday, I want to bring you into a part of the work that’s all about the way Jesus brings new life out of death.
At First Image, we are convinced that every person conceived is made in the Image of God. That means that the loss of any pregnancy is the loss of a person. We are called by God to mourn with those who mourn. Often, too many people mourn in silence because we have not created places that are safe enough to weep openly.
We know that 20–30% of women have had one or more abortions and that statistic is the same both in and out of the church. Because so many carry that secret in silence, guilt and shame dominate where we know forgiveness and redemption in Jesus should reign.
Having this knowledge, we’ve led a post-abortion ministry called Heart for the past 30 years. We’ve seen, over and over, how the process of bringing experiences of incredible loss and shame into the light brings renewal, hope, and peace with God, others, and oneself.
Increasingly, we have seen the need to also include other forms of pregnancy loss in this ministry as a witness to our belief in the full personhood of children at any stage of development in the womb.
In April, we are very excited to announce the launch of Kindred Grief Care (kindredgrief.org), which expands the ministry of Heart to address other forms of pregnancy loss. Under Kindred, Heart groups will still operate, and a new group, called “Known,” is launching in the coming months to foster healing in Jesus for those that have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth.
Over a year ago, Crystal McGowen came onto our team as the Program Director for Heart (and now Kindred as a whole). Crystal has been working diligently to lead Heart groups and bring new vision to this part of the ministry. She is passionate about equipping others to grieve well and experience healing in Jesus.
I wanted you to hear directly from Crystal about the ministry of Kindred, so I asked her a few questions:
Crystal, what is at the heart of Kindred Grief Care?
Kindred was developed in response to the ongoing grief we see and hear in women who have suffered from pregnancy loss. There is something deeply sacred and painful about losing a child, regardless of the circumstances. Kindred exists to hold space for each woman’s story and love her as she unpacks the pain and grief of her loss. We believe healing happens in community, so we offer retreats and support groups that are biblically based and Jesus-focused, connecting women with shared experiences of pregnancy loss.
Who is Kindred for?
Kindred serves women (18 and up) who have experienced miscarriage, stillborn birth, or abortion. It doesn’t matter if your loss was last week or twenty years ago, if you are grieving or struggling in any way, and ready to take the next step, you are invited to join your Kindred sisters on a journey to healing. Our services are free and open to all.
How can people get involved with Kindred?
We are looking for women who’ve experienced miscarriage and stillborn birth to attend our first Known retreat, which will be scheduled soon. Visit our website to sign-up for upcoming retreats and opportunities to get support after pregnancy loss. We are also looking for volunteers to support this ministry. The best way to get involved is to visit kindredgrief.org or email me at [email protected] and let me know how you’d like to get connected.
One of the things that has always been unique about the ministry of First Image, is our incredibly compassionate staff and volunteers. We show just as much love to the person who is considering abortion as to the one who has undergone one. We want to do the same for those that have experienced any form of pregnancy loss and to be the sort of people who can be counted trustworthy to walk with those in their pain, and to foster hope and renewal in Jesus.
I invite you to pray and give to the ministry of First Image, which is the best way to make sure the resources of Kindred reach those in our community who have experienced pregnancy loss.
Your Fellow Follower,
Luke Cirillo, First Image CEO