Healing the Healers

Healing the Healers is a new multimedia resource to support faith leaders facing community-level trauma to ensure that no faith leader faces this challenge alone and without preparation or resources. The project is comprised of a series of five short 15-minute documentaries–intimate conversations, led by Newtown’s Rev. Matt Crebbin, between faith leaders who’ve experienced mass traumatic events in their communities and congregations.
On December 14, 2012, Rev. Matt Crebbin’s life was forever changed. He was the senior minister of the Newtown Congregational Church in Newtown, Connecticut when he got word of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a faith leader in the community, he and other faith leaders were in immediate crisis mode, trying to manage the trauma and onslaught of media, all while supporting victims, emergency workers, families and community members. In a small community like Newtown, everyone felt the trauma of this sudden and horrific act of violence. 


In this series, Matt is on a journey to understand the mid-long term effects of trauma on faith leaders, and a mission to help educate and prepare them in case of traumatic events. He seeks to recognize the isolation often felt by faith leaders who face unique stresses in the aftermath of traumatic events. Now, more than five years later, Crebbin is still coming to terms with the effects of that traumatic event.


As Rev. Crebbin says, “It’s like learning to dance again, only with a limp.”


This series of five powerful, filmed conversations is a resource to prepare and inspire a sacred community of support for faith leaders. They illustrate the key themes associated with faith leader trauma – acknowledging it, examining the unique symptoms, and exploring ways to recover and move towards healing.


Key themes include self-care, self-awareness, pastoral v. prophetic roles, impact on families of faith leaders, living with the stress of continual community trauma, conflict with congregation while moving through stages of trauma, re-traumatization in the face of the rising number of mass shootings, struggling with your faith in light of evil, building trauma-informed ministries, and lessons learned, or what Matt has termed as living with this ‘new wisdom.’


Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred nearly five years ago, there have been 1,862 mass shootings in the United States with 2,071 killed and 7,852 injured, according to the nonpartisan Gun Violence Archive. This doesn’t include the epidemic of chronic gun 1 violence in urban areas or community-level trauma from terrorism and ongoing problems such as the opioid epidemic or the looming aging and dying baby boomers. These crises put critical demands on faith leaders to sustain both their congregations, themselves and their families – just when they are needed the most.


The resource will be made widely available to faith leaders, seminaries, libraries, conferences and congregations. The initiative was created and implemented by Odyssey Impact, a media company that builds and executes social impact campaigns around award-winning film and media to inspire people of all faiths and good will to engage with their communities on issues important in their lives. Odyssey Impact mobilizes individuals, communities of all faiths, changemakers, and private sector partners to nurture justice, hope, compassion and understanding.