Sally Ankerfelt is an ordained pastor serving a congregation in Minneapolis that is seeking to be trauma-informed in its beliefs and practices. She also holds a Certificate of Trauma Studies from the University of Minnesota that informs her work. She is a founder of and certified coach for GIFT Family Services, a company that offers support services for adoptive families before, during, or after adoption. Sally has led workshops for both Christian educators and adoptive families and professionals around the topics of faith communities that heal and connect and Christian education that ministers to children with challenging behaviors.

workshop presentations

For many families who face difficulties, a faith community is considered an important source of support and healing. Others long to receive understanding and acceptance. This seminar will discuss current practices that can be changed or enhanced in order to be of greater support and healing to those with difficult backgrounds. Participants will hear how one congregation is implementing trauma-awareness throughout its congregation and will gain direction and ideas for their own faith community, including: changes and enhancements to Sunday school and youth activities and worship, space enhancements, and additions to the operating documents of the church (i.e. mission statements, constitution bylaws, Sunday school philosophy, etc.). In the spirit of practicing what I preach, participants also will have the opportunity to make their own stress balls while we talk!

What does it mean to be “trauma-informed” and why would that matter for a congregation and its relationship with children and families? In this seminar, participants will discover the strong theological basis for intentional trauma-aware practices and the scientific support for strengthening and growing in how we interact with and what we provide for our congregation. Participants will gain a new awareness of the necessity to create an enriching environment for families, children or individuals who have traumatic backgrounds.