about Rachel’s Vineyard

Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats offer an opportunity for those who have had an abortion experience to examine and identify ways that the loss has impacted them in the past and present, and helps people to acknowledge any unresolved feelings that many individuals struggle with after abortion. Because of the emotional numbness and secrecy that often surrounds an abortion experience, conflicting emotions both during and after the event may remain unresolved. These buried feelings can surface later and may be symptoms of post abortion trauma.

Married couples, mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children, as well as persons who have been involved in the abortion industry have come to Rachel’s Vineyard in search of peace and inner healing. The weekend is a lot of work, but it yields a fruitful harvest for all who are willing to labor there.

Why a Vineyard? There are many images and symbolisms attached to a vineyard. It is a place where grape vines are grown, tended to, lifted up and cleansed so they can bear a more bountiful harvest. A vineyard is a place of labor for the making of sweet wine. Perhaps the most significant association with a vine comes from Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John: “Remain united in me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains on the vine. In the same way, you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in Him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.” Rachel’s Vineyard takes this scripture to heart; and because of that it is a spiritual process as well as a psychological process. In trying to understand the mystery of death, we look to God in times of personal distress, trauma, and the loss of human life.

Dr. Theresa Burke of Philadelphia, PA, is the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard. She began offering weekend retreats in 1995. Without a budget, office or advertising, Rachel’s Vineyard became a grassroots outreach. By word of mouth only, the retreats began to spread across the country because of the retreat’s dramatic effectiveness, from 18 retreats in 1999 to hundreds of retreats now held annually in 47 states and over 70 countries, with new sites in development. It is estimated that over 250,000 people throughout the world have participated in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: “Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell; but spirituality is for people who have been there.” The unhealed trauma of an abortion experience can create a living hell for those who suffer. The quest for true healing, therefore, frequently becomes a spiritual journey.Rachel’s Vineyard provides a safe environment to do the work of recovery from an abortion. Many, many individuals have been transformed and set free from the pain of abortion as they journey through this healing weekend.

Meaning of Rachel: In Jeremiah 31:15, the prophet speaks of ‘Rachel weeping for her children’ (KJV). This is interpreted in Judaism as Rachel crying for an end to her descendants’ sufferings and exiles following the destruction by the Babylonians of the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem.