Category Archives: Fall 2012

Episcopal Mental Illness Network

September 28, 2012

Mental Illness Awareness Week

October 7 thru 13, 2012

Holy Comforter Lives the Mission of Its Name

This article comes from the Rev. Mike Tanner, Vicar of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Atlanta (

Holy Comforter is a parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. About 60% of the congregation live with mental illness, and most of that number are very poor, receiving only a small disability check.

Holy Comforter opened its Friendship Center in 1997 in response to reduced availability of day programs for people living with mental illness. It now serves from 90 to 125 people each Tuesday and Thursday. Through the Friendship Center, Holy Comforter offers day programs for persons with mental illness or other disabilities. These programs include a variety of activities, such as painting, music and movement, ceramics, weaving, woodworking, gardening, and games, as well as lunch.

The Friendship Center has recently added a Wellness & Recovery Coordinator to manage and enhance its various wellness and recovery activities, such as its foot and hand clinics, flu-shot and eye clinics, yoga, and support groups.

Holy Comforter is supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and by various parishes, foundations, and individuals. The Georgia Mental Health Consumers’ Network provides funds for our art and gardening programs, and Woodland Hills Baptist Church provides space for our art studios.

Holy Comforter has recently received good publicity on national TV with an episode on PBS’s Religion and Ethics.

Rev. Tanner was interviewed on the PBS program. Here’s what he said about the participants in its programs: “What I see coming to us and joining us is a group of people who have been knocked down all their lives and who are just remarkably joyous and remarkably full of faith. They get it that God loves them and that their suffering is just part of life, and God loves them through it, and they love each other through it.”


For more of the PBS episode: PBS – Holy Comforter

2012 Interfaith Conference

Faith Communities & Mental Illness: Tools for Response and Care

by The Rev. Karen MacDonald

May our faith communities be sanctuaries of hope and support for those affected by mental illness.

The 2012 Interfaith Conference was a success in Tucson.

It was a day of information and inspiration. Over 400 people of varying faiths came together around a common cause on Friday, April 27: better responding to mental illness and exploring local resources for care.

This unique conference, hosted by Interfaith Community Services and held at St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church, included presentations by noted local and national experts in the faith and mental health fields. Attendees packed workshops and breakout sessions exploring such topics as being an advocate for a loved one affected by mental illness, understanding depression, suicide prevention, mental health issues in the aging and youth/young adult populations, and successful care models being utilized by faith communities to be more welcoming places for congregants struggling with mental illness.

A resource fair featured informational tables and hand-outs from over 20 local agencies and organizations providing mental health services. Go to Interfaith Tucson for a listing of local care resources.

One attendee came away with “…the overwhelming sense that together we can make a difference. Clearly there is much work that we still need to do,” she added.

According to the Surgeon General, one in five Americans will suffer a mental disorder at some point in their lives. Many will first turn to their faith leader for help and guidance. The conference was designed to equip attendees with information for understanding mental illness and the role of faith in the healing process. It also provided tools for being better prepared to relate to congregants coping with mental illness.

“What can we, as faith leaders, do to better help someone who is struggling with mental illness?” asked one lay leader to a presenter who had shared her personal story of caring for her mother who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “Be there” was the answer. “Be compassionate. Be available.”

“I’ve been dealing with my husband who has bi-polar disorder,” said one attendee. “I’ve been shouldering this alone. You’ve inspired me to call our family priest.”

Added one speaker, “I’ve learned that mental illness is a part of you. It doesn’t define you.”

Faith Communities and Mental Illness: Tools for Response and Care was made possible by funding from The David C. and Laura M. Lovell Foundation. Additional support was provided by more than a dozen churches, community agencies, and businesses.

Conference Follow-up

Additional efforts will continue the momentum from this inspiring conference:

  • A “how-to” manual is available for communities interested in providing a similar conference to raise awareness of mental illness in congregations and to facilitate interaction between the faith community and the mental health provider community.
  • A resource kit is being distributed to congregations throughout Tucson. These kits include a series of flyers addressing various aspects of mental illness and faith communities, worship resources, a listing of mental health agencies in Tucson and Pima County, and information on activities for Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 7-12, 2012.)
  • A Lunch and Learn gathering, “Becoming a Welcoming Community” will take place on October 11, 2012, 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (2331 E. Adams St., Tucson). Dr. Peter Likins, president emeritus of the University of Arizona, will speak about his family’s experience with mental illness. Also, members of two congregations which are providing support and education around mental illness will share their insights for open discussion. Anyone interested in receiving a “how-to” manual, resource kit, or in registering for the Lunch and Learn are invited to contact Interfaith Community Services at 520-297-2738 ext 233 or

The Rev. Karen MacDonald is the Faith Community Engagement Manager at Interfaith Community Services in Tucson, Arizona.

Housing Faith Alliance Builds Bridges in Tulsa

The Housing Faith Alliance (HFA), a program of Abba’s Family, is building bridges of connectivity between the faith community and formerly homeless mentally ill men and women in different neighborhoods across Tulsa. The alliance seeks to transform the faith community in this city through relationships of service with individuals who are poor, homeless, or who have mental illness.

Many formerly homeless individuals, however, are shy, lonely and afraid to reach out to others, and do not have close friends or strong support systems. Many want to be a part of making their neighborhoods a better place to live. Many say that matters of faith and their relationship with God are very important to them. Meanwhile, faith communities want to reach out but do not know how. Stigma and fear are formidable challenges to overcome.

The HFA seeks justice and mercy for the poor through the transformational power of faith infused relationships. The HFA is in collaboration with 20 or so faith communities in 5 different Tulsa neighborhoods and includes 12 different housing programs.

As one of those faith communities, St. John’s Episcopal Church hosted Evening Prayer for the HFA on May 14th, providing an opportunity for formerly homeless persons with mental illness, the Parish of St. John’s, and the workers and volunteers of the HFA to pray and join in fellow ship together.

The Executive Director of HFA is Bob Althoff, LCSW, LMFT, who can be reached at An Episcopal board member of the Housing Faith Alliance, Br. James Patrick Hall, BSG, can be reached at

EMIN Website Resurrected!

Please check out the new and vastly improved EMIN website at to see what a difference Shelley Adams has made. There is a wealth of information, new resources, and connections to other helpful sites.

When we lost all our web content, I had a tech-savvy friend start a new one for us with some material that I had, but it was only a fraction of what used to be there. I had great hopes for getting it built back up, but didn’t know where that help was coming from. Out of the clear blue sky appeared Shelley Adams, who contacted me and wanted to help resurrect our EMIN site.

Sure, there are still miracles around, but I don’t count on them very often, but…

Shelley Adams, website miracle worker and mental health advocate:

Shelley’s journey in mental health advocacy began in April 2006, the same month that she found the Episcopal Church. That spring, while in the process of applying to an ecumenical divinity school, she made a number of life-changing decisions. Yet, for a young woman once distrustful of the church and guarded about her diagnoses of depression and AD/HD, two of these decisions—to openly disclose and share her experiences with mental illness and to join an Episcopal congregation—stand apart. Though they mark the radical re-orientation she experienced during this period of her life, Shelley finds more significance in their continuing influence in shaping her life.

Shelley holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Wake Forest University. In the future, she hopes to complete her M.Div., but explains that the thought of being called to ordained ministry is accompanied by “an undeniable urge to go hide under the bed.”

Shelley currently serves on the Bishop’s Committee on Accessibility in the Diocese of North Carolina and the Advisory Board for Episcopal Campus Ministries of Winston-Salem. She can be found on Twitter @ShelleyVAdams or on Sunday mornings at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem, NC.

What One Can Do

Lane Perdue is in the deacon formation program in the Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona. Her ministry focuses on serious mental illness. Her activities form a great example of the things one person can do to bring awareness to the issue. She is connecting with NAMI Phoenix, making presentations, and expanding the awareness of people in her Diocese. Here are some of the things she is doing which may inspire “EMIN News” readers to make a difference wherever they are.

  • Through her connection with NAMI Phoenix, Lane was made NAMI FaithNet coordinator.
  • She has been giving the FaithNet “Bridges of Hope” presentation in various churches in the Phoenix area. About this she says “this is very inspiring to have people connect with the good news that is beginning to be possible for people with Serious mental illness.”
  • She has also been invited to give presentations in northern rural Arizona.
  • NAMI FaithNet has sponsored two “Coffee with the Clergy” events inviting members of the clergy from a number of denominations to come together to learn about mental illness and faith communities.
  • Through her NAMI connection, Lane has taught several 12-week Family to Family courses and is facilitating a NAMI family support group.
  • She participated in an “In Our Own Voice” gathering at the cathedral which gave persons with mental illness an opportunity to share their own perspectives.

This year, as she did in 2011, Lane plans to present a forum at Trinity Cathedral for Mental Illness Awareness week, the 1st week of October. For the second year, she will have a mental illness awareness table at the annual Diocesan convention. She is going to send Information on Mental Health Awareness week to the diocesan office and encourage publicity to Arizona congregations.

Pathways to Promise

“Developing the capacity of congregations to support recovery and wellness with individuals and families facing serious mental health issues.”


If you want to concentrate on developing a mental health ministry in your congregation and community, go to Pathways2Promise for the Mental Health Ministry Training resource site. Many resources in a variety of formats may be downloaded from this Pathways to Promise (P2P) page.

You will find three downloadable presentations in various formats:

  • Mental Health 101: An Introduction to Mental Health Ministry
  • Organizing a Mental Health Team in Your Congregation
  • Companionship: A Ministry of Presence

You will also find a PRESENTER’S GUIDE for each course to help you offer these trainings in your congregation. The presenter’s guides may be used as a self-study by clergy and congregational leaders or as a small group resource for training mental health team members and companionship care teams.

You will also find:

  • Congregation Survey to help you identify mental health concerns and interests of your congregation
  • Mental Health Ministry – A Toolkit for Congregations to help you with practical activity
  • A Local Mental Health Training Cooperative describing how you can work with neighboring congregations and community allies to build a network of caring congregations

Pathways to Promise wants to know about your efforts. If you do a small study group or offer a presentation in your congregation, P2P would like to get copies of the survey and evaluation forms you use, along with your location and a list of the participants and their roles (clergy, laity, family member, peer, mental health provider, etc.) This will help P2P evaluate and revise these trainings and develop additional resources.

Please send any correspondence to:

Pathways to Promise
5400 Arsenal St.
St. Louis, MO 63139

Widening the Welcome

November 1-3
Holiday Inn
Columbus, Ohio

Everyone is welcome at this UCC sponsored conference

For complete information, registration, hotel and more — head to

Churches usually have a welcome sign outside their building. What we want to demonstrate and encourage is the welcome that is experienced inside the church and as a result, that transformative power will be released into the world. As we read, “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13b),” this conference seeks to build up our churches to be welcoming and inclusive communities. This includes people who have been touched by or have experienced a mental illness/brain disorder and/or a disability, apparent or unapparent.

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012: October 7–13

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI’s efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since 1990, mental health advocates across the country have joined together during the first full week of October in sponsoring many kinds of activities.

This year, the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.

MIAW has become a NAMI tradition. It presents an opportunity to all NAMI state organizations and affiliates across the country to work together in communities to achieve the NAMI mission through outreach, education, and advocacy.

The MIAW Idea Book (MIAW site) suggests activities that can be incorporated into planning for the fall. Stickers, posters, and a web banner to use on websites or in documents are available for download in English and Spanish. Other special resources can be downloaded at the website (resources for outreach to faith communities).

Start your MIAW preparation now and begin changing attitudes, changing lives!