Trauma-Informed Worship

By Erika Hewitt, Elizabeth Stevens

"I've gotten up in front of my congregation to say, This horrible thing happened. I don't understand how it could have happened. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. But I know that being together helps. To name that can be a powerful tool; a powerful moment that creates space so that we're holding it together—and together, it gets a little bit lighter and a little bit more spacious."
—Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens

Trauma-Informed Worship

A conversation between Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens and Rev. Erika Hewitt

In July 2021, Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens sat down with Rev. Erika Hewitt to record a conversation about trauma-informed worship. We intentionally recorded audio only, not video, so that listeners could move away from screens to experience this conversation on a walk, or while folding laundry, or sitting under a tree.

In this thirty-minute conversation, we talk about:

  • What trauma is, and the forms trauma can take
  • How worship leaders might discern how to acknowledge trauma in worship, and the crucial first step of that leadership
  • Which three resources Elizabeth recommends as most important learning resources
  • The mistake that many clergy and other professional religious leaders make in responding to trauma

The transcript for this conversation is available (PDF, 11 pages).

Thank you for your patience with the slight fluctuations in sound levels!

If you'd like another related resource, please check out Rev. Sunshine Wolfe's nine-minute presentation on trauma, and how to recognize its effects in you and those you love.

About the Authors

Erika Hewitt

Rev. Erika Hewitt (she/her) serves as the Minister of Worship Arts for the Unitarian Universalist Association. She also spends time on the road as a guest preacher, worship consultant, and wedding officiant....

Elizabeth Stevens

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens (she/her) has served the UU Church of the Palouse in Moscow, Idaho since 2012. A raised UU, her doctoral dissertation focused on how to work with trauma in congregational life.

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