Category Archives: November 2008

Working Together in Augusta, GA

Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries

By Deacon John Warner

Since we human beings are comprised not only of body and mind, but also of spirit, the most efficacious treatment of any illness, including a mental illness, must consider the whole person.

A number of studies have shown that individuals who are active spiritually, who pray, who have others pray with or for others, who practice their spiritual or religious beliefs and attend church services when possible, do lead healthier, happier lives.

Additionally, educating clergy and faith communities regarding mental illness can allay fears, promote inclusiveness and support those with mental illness to take an active role in their recovery.

In response to these beliefs, the Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries of Augusta, Georgia, formed in 2002.

The Coalition is an ecumenical, interdenominational organization comprised of clergy, mental health professionals and representatives from local congregations.

The purpose of the Coalition is threefold:

  • To educate clergy and laity within the faith communities to an awareness of, and sensitivity about, mental health issues;
  • To coordinate and assist members of the faith communities in accessing community resources for mental health services, treatment, and/or counseling;
  • To offer education, assistance, and resources to faith communities in the development of their own programs for ministry to persons with mental illness and their families.

The Coalition holds healing services in the fall and spring of each year in different churches in the Augusta area, on a rotating basis. Clergy from differing denominations officiate at the services, pray with individuals and anoint them with oil if they desire it.

The Coalition also schedules an educational seminar once or twice per year to provide education on a variety of topics surrounding mental illness to clergy and mental health professionals, including the incorporation of those with mental illness into the life of the faith community.

For more information on the Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries in Augusta, Georgia, contact:

Deacon John Warner

Diocese of Georgia

Starting a Mental Illness Ministry

Basic Ingredients Required:

A Need
Every congregation has this basic ingredient. Mental illness affects one person in every four in our pews. A large percentage of the population of every church is made up of persons who have a brain disorder or who are close to family members and loved ones with a mental illness. Most remain silent about their problems because of shame and stigma.
A Person with a Passion
A mental illness or mental health ministry needs just one person who wants to help his or her congregation become more caring and welcoming to persons with brain disorders and their loved ones.
A Rector/Vicar/Pastor with an Open Mind
A person feeling a call to start a mental illness ministry needs to approach the their clergy and talk about their vision for such a ministry and how it might work.
A Team
A team is necessary to make plans for educational and supportive projects. There are many ways to put a team together, and this will be unique to each parish.
A Commitment
The team should set annual goals for awareness activities, education, and becoming an information source for the congregation on community resources. How can the team encourage the congregation to become a compassionate presence and a safe place to talk about mental illness?
A Clear Mission
The team and the congregation need a clear vision of what the mental illness ministry is and is not. This should be shared with the congregation. An open discussion is necessary to air concerns, fears, and hopes about the ministry.

Pathways to Promise Schedules First National Conference

“Companions on the Road to Recovery”

Trusting that the necessary major funding will come through, Pathways to Promise is planning it’s first national conference. Entitled, Companions on the Road to Recovery—New Pathways for the 21st Century. The conference will take place on September 29, 30, and October 1, 2009 at the convention facility of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows located in Belleville, Illinois just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri.

Faith group delegates, consumers, advocates, clergy, and mental health professionals are all welcome. The planning committee hopes that Teams from different faith groups will be able to use the time to set goals for future collaborative efforts. The convention plan also calls for showcasing models of cooperation among mental health centers/providers and faith groups. The term “Companions” refers not only to being a companion to someone experiencing a mental illness, but to the collaboration of all involved—congregation and community.

According to Bob Dell, Pathways executive director. This re-enforces the original vision of Pathways—that we can do more cooperatively than alone.

For more information on all aspects of the “Companions on the Road to Recovery” conference watch the Pathways to Promise Web site for further details.

The Rev. Bob Dell

Chair, and Acting Executive Director

Pathways to Promise, Ministry & Mental Illness


Many Thanks!

The volunteer staff of the Episcopal Mental Illness Network would like to thank the Diocese of California, the Diocese of Arkansas and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas for their generous contributions over the past year.

  • Rev. Larry Harrelson
    Boise, ID
  • Laura and Larry Shoffner
    Eureka Springs, AR
  • Penny and Morris Little
    Mountain View, AR
  • Episcopal Disability Network
    Minneapolis, MN
  • Patricia and Arnold Hearn
    Little Rock, AR
  • Willa and Larry Thompson
    Asheville, NC
  • Marcie and Thomas McCracken
    St. Charles, IL
  • Caroline and Gregory Hall
    Idaho Falls, ID
  • Susie and Michael Muirhead
    Searcy, AR
  • Lynne Clifton
    Roland, AR
  • Larry and Beth Maze
    Little Rock, AR
  • Heather Piazza
    Little Rock, AR
  • Anne and Charles Bird
    Orchard Park, NY
  • Ruth Anne and Lawrence Thompson
    Asheville, NC
  • Donna and Brian Wiese
    Woodinville, WA
  • Deborah and James Purdon
    Maplewood, NJ
  • Nancy and Bob Gribbon
    Church Creek, MD
  • Rev. Cham Canon
    Memphis, TN
  • Patricia and William Schneider
    Sterling, VA
  • Carole and David Wills
    Indianapolis, IN
  • Robert A Krogman
    Lisbeth Krogman

    Sycamore, IL
  • Charlotte Shepard
    Sun Lakes, AZ
  • Tommie Cubine
    Virginia Beach, VA

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