Lutheran Congregational Services (LCS) provides individual counseling, support groups, and a Facebook group for those who are grieving. Most typically, those support groups take place in the Lehigh Valley and are well attended!

In an effort to expand these services, last year LCS scheduled a support group outside of that area. When no one registered for the program, we decided to take a step back and reflect on the question of why.

There may be any number of reasons why no one enrolled. Outside of the Lehigh Valley people may be unfamiliar with the LCS bereavement services. We’ve been told that one of the reasons for the program’s success is because grief counselor Sylvia Havlish is well known and respected for her work.

Also, people may seek help from one of many other programs, services and resources available for those who are grieving. Cultural differences may affect whether or not someone seeks help.

If bereavement services are not a priority, are there other programs or services that congregations need? Or are bereavement services being requested elsewhere but a different delivery method or approach to promoting them would be better for different communities.

To find answers, this Fall LCS will investigate with churches and pastors what they’re seeing and hearing within their congregations. Through interviews and focus groups, LCS hopes to gather insights into whether bereavement programs and services are wanted, or if there are other issues that LCS could help congregations address.

Once we analyze the information gathered during this process, LCS will work with our Advisory Board and leadership to devise a plan and initiate strategies on how to support congregations in eastern Pennsylvania.

If you or someone in your congregation is interested in participating in this process, please contact Julia Frank at We welcome your valuable input.