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Couple find their calling in divorce ministry

The couple, both previously married, start a DivorceCare support group for people whose marriages are ending.

By LOGAN D. MABE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 14, 2001


WESTCHASE -- Lee and Kendrea Kappel are living proof that there's life after divorce.

The Westchase couple, both previously married, share their experiences through a local program called DivorceCare for people who are going through the end of marriage.

DivorceCare is a national support group system that sponsors individual chapters in communities across the country. The group the Kappels run will hold its first meeting Sept. 20 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church at 6100 Memorial Highway.

The program is Christian-based and deals directly with divorce issues and recovery in a video/discussion format.

"It's basically a program that was developed by a gentleman and his wife who had been through a divorce," Kappel said. "It's actually been around quite awhile. It's Christian, but non-denominational. What we find is that people get more help from each other than watching the tapes. It tends to give people more encouragement that, "I'm not alone,' and that "I can survive this,' and "There is hope for the future.' "

Kappel emphasized that the program is not about, "spouse bashing, or sitting and whining. People have some terrible things to go through, but primarily we're focused on where we're headed."

Mrs. Kappel said that after her divorce she was a single mother of two young children for six years before putting a toe back into the dating pool.

A good friend urged her to sign up for a Christian dating service, but she was reticent. "She said, "You just expect God to send some man down with a flying torch and a note?' " Mrs. Kappel recalled. "So she filled it out and sent it in. Lee got my number and called me and I wouldn't have called him back, but he used one word that made me return the call: honor. He said, "I would be honored to talk to you.' "

That phone call eventually led to their own walk down the aisle.

Mrs. Kappel, who helps administer the 13-week DivorceCare program, said it centers on the healing process. "We want to give them future hope. But to get there you really have to heal from this break up. Divorce is really a tearing of two people."

Kappel, who went through the program three times after his divorce, said it takes time to recover from such a life-changing event.

"The road back is not a quick and easy thing," Kappel said. "Those who try to make it quick and easy either don't heal completely or end up carrying along a lot of baggage with them into new relationships."

Mrs. Kappel said the couple decided to launch the free program as a way of giving something back to people in pain.

"When I divorced, it was a rough haul," she said. "I decided that if I could ever get out of that hole, I would want to help someone else."

- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at (813) 226-3464

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