By Veronica Thomas & Helen Bessent Byrd
Dr. Paula Owens Parker (M.Div..‘94), Adjunct Assistant Professor of Spiritual Formation at Union Presbyterian Seminary, has authored a book which aids professionals who seek to explore cultural variance and examine trauma and resilience in families across generations.
An ordained Presbyterian minister with numerous experiences as a spiritual director, retreat leader and healing prayer minister, Dr. Parker was the founder and former executive director of the Daughters of Zelophehad, Inc, an ecumenical Christian transitional housing program for women in crisis and their children and is the Senior Program Developer of Roots Matter LLC. The author notes that “Roots Matter” recognizes the impact of transgenerational trauma as a result of chattel slavery on the African-American church community. It emphasizes the importance of discovering the silent stories—those that were overlooked and ignored; unearthing the secret stories—those that were intentionally covered up; and being attentive to the reverberations of the severed stories of slavery and how they influence the family story and family members.
Via literature reviews, the book investigates the historical, psychological, sociological, and theological issues around historical pain and trauma and analyzes the ramifications of transgenerational trauma in the Jewish, Armenian, and Native American communities as well as the African American community. Further, it proposes the use of the genogram, a graphic representation of a family tree that goes beyond a traditional family tree by allowing the user to analyze hereditary patterns and physical, spiritual, behavioral, and psychological factors that punctuate relationships and family history. The genogram reveals patterns of trauma and resilience by recording significant dates, losses, achievements, values, and beliefs. Examples of biblical and contemporary families are used to illustrate the concepts of family systems and the transmission of generational patterns of connections, actions, and conduct.
A leader’s guide outlines a six-week curriculum and culminating ceremony of intercessory prayer for the healing of identified trauma and acknowledged strengths, abilities, and talents. Interrupting the transference of generational trauma through mourning, forgiveness, and prayers for healing accelerates the transference of generational resilience. Through celebration and blessing, the fortitude, courage, and determination in the family story move current and future generations toward healing and wholeness. This excellent resource, “Roots Matter, “prunes the family tree of trauma, silent, secret, and severed stories that stunt the growth of the family. Tending to family roots and fertilizing them with the recognition of the resilience, achievements, gifts, and talents of the ancestors create a healthier environment for future generations to flourish.