Circle of Hope and Healing is for loved ones of homicide victims. The Circle is rooted in the compassion of its members for the shared suffering of each other. No member will be coerced to speak when they are not prepared to do so. A trained counselor will maintain the process and values established by circle members. Just show up and expect healing. We meet on the first Thursday of every month, 6PM-8PM, Shepherds House Church fellowship hall, 107 N. Driver Street, Durham, 27703. There is no charge for anything. For more information please contact Ruthy Jones at

Circle of Hope & Healing

Here is a beautiful reflection from one of our Circle keepers, Rob Womack, delivered at RCND Annual Fundraising Breakfast on April 11, 2014. Rob is a minister and licensed counselor. Enjoy!

We meet in the basement of a church in East Durham. We enter through a screen door into the kitchen. We exchange hugs and hellos and catch up on our week as warm, delicious food freely given from Core Catering is spread out on the table. Sometimes there’s dessert. We sit in the fellowship hall to eat, gripe, laugh, share news, to bond. One of the fluorescent lights has a hum to it. We turn it off and dim the space when we gather in a circle. One seat is always left open…for Elijah or a late arrival to the Circle of Hope and Healing. It is the first or third Thursday of the month and something amazing is about to happen. There is a moment of silence, or prayer or poem that is read to create a spaciousness in our time together. One person, the circle keeper, holds a book as a totem and speaks a word of welcome before passing the talking piece to the left. Often, someone new comes to our group. The sad reality is that for every gathering of the Circle, a new parent to a child who has been killed is created. In addition, a neighbor, a sibling, a minister, or journalist begins a week lessened by a sudden, violent, and ceaseless loss. A new seat in our circle is filled. The members of our circle welcome with hospitality as only those who have walked this unique journey can. We learn that such grief finds no closure but it can open us up to healing others. We learn that strangers can love one another in an instant and see it last for a very long time. We learn that to cry is to comfort. No one has to tiptoe around the words or the names. There is no judgment, no suggestions to just move on. We share memories because we cannot forget. Yes, amazing things happen. Parents, siblings, neighbors, journalists, ministers, members of the police department, caregivers, friends, and angels gather in a circle, each taking a turn to speak their truth to suffering and hope. And then we witness love and healing when someone shifts to that empty seat to hold the crying mother now beside them. We hear the passion in the prophet’s voice as she speaks of poverty, the harm it causes, and the hope for a time when no one new can be added to our circle. We learn that we can trust in the goodness of humanity again. And we love in order to heal because this is God’s will for us all.

One person who I have met this year at our Healing Circle is Bonnie Turner. Bonnie is the mother of Jerrica, Walinda, Seneca, Tony and Jeremy. On May 17, 2011, Jeremy’s relationship with his family changed because he was killed by another person. Bonnie is a friend, a neighbor, a mother, a grandmother. She comes to our Circle because it gives her the chance to speak about Jeremy, about her love of him, about her visits to the cemetery, about her memories and about her dreams. Dreams to redeem a tragic loss that it may not be in vain. She wants to know what can be done for herself and others. As she asks the questions, she develops the answers patiently like an old-school photographer in a dark room. She heals and she helps others to do the same. I am thankful to know her.