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This month we want to tell you more about the “Spirit Warrior” program in central Maine, recipients of a $95,000 grant from Lutheran Women in Mission (LWM) in the 2019–2021 biennium.

Maine is among the “least churched” states in the nation. It has only three Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod congregations in the entire state and only five Veteran Administration Chaplains. Deaconess Kim Slininger was called to Hope Lutheran Church to reach out to the extensive veteran and military community in the Bangor area. Through the Veteran’s Administration, she pursued her master’s degree in Diaconal Studies from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. She continued her education in Clinical Pastoral Education while volunteering as a chaplain intern at Eastern Maine Medical Center. She has also finished her Palliative Care certification.

Deaconess Kim is herself a disabled veteran, and the Spirit Warrior program is an extension of her ministry. She became aware of the challenges our service members face every day as they return from the war theaters because of her own undiagnosed PTSD and her experiences as a chaplain intern. Often the veterans and service members identified a conflict between their moral standards and the orders they needed to carry out while in uniform. Current traditional therapy does not address the care of the spirit. “Equine Experiential Learning” is now a recognized therapy for those suffering from mental health issues, and Deaconess Kim recognized the potential benefits of this type of therapy with military personnel and saw the need for this therapy with the veterans in Maine.

Spirit Warrior is a program that addresses the need to provide pastoral/diaconal care with those who have endured the hardships of war and have returned—using horses . Many veterans and service members want to connect with God. Theological discussion—as well as hearing of the love of Christ—takes place while caring for the horses.

The core principles of Spirit Warrior are to offer the grace of God to all who are suffering, proclaim the name of Christ in their work and actions and be good stewards of all that is entrusted to them. This grant will provide funding for 58 veterans to benefit from the program.

Lutheran Women in Mission (LWM) is the official women’s auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Since 1942, LWM has focused on affirming each woman’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and by supporting global missions. For more information on each month’s mission focus, visit Saint John’s Lutheran Women in Mission (Mission Guild) meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM in Room 301. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend.