Tag Archives: Episcopal

The Episcopal Church and its constituent provinces, dioceses, missions, congregations, and members

Resolution Regarding Mental Illness Adopted

At the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Rev. Susan Phillips and the delegation of the Diocese of Delaware introduced Resolution C020. The resolution was one of five also endorsed by Association for Episcopal Deacons (AED).

The Resolution was adopted as follows:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church calls upon dioceses, congregations, schools, and other entities of the Episcopal Church to explore and adopt best practices for the vitality and increased capacity of their mission and ministry in the inclusion, support, and spiritual care for persons with mental illness and their families; and be it further

Resolved, that dioceses, congregations, schools, and other entities of the Episcopal Church increase understanding about mental illness by providing educational material and training; utilizing existing programs such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, veterans groups, governmental departments of mental health, local organizations, and other programs and organizations; and sharing the information so that it is readily accessible.

Guidelines for Addressing Mental Health Emergencies

Editor’s Note:

Some parishes are reluctant to reach out to people with mental illness because they do not feel competent to handle emergency situations. The protocol given below is a proactive measure developed by one parish to help its members be prepared if an emergency arises.

The Rev. Mike Tanner, who worked for a number of years with a parish known for its inclusion of people with mental illness, the Church of the Holy Comforter in Atlanta, reminds us that having to use such a protocol is a rare event. He believes that Holy Comforter has been somewhat successful in fostering an environment in which people feel that they belong to the community. He believes “Once there is a feeling of belonging, there is investment in the community that tempers the behavior even of people with mental health issues. The key to inclusion must start with the will to embrace the difficult, disruptive, and disconcerting other. That doesn’t guarantee a happy or fully satisfying outcome, but there can’t be one without it.”

Guidelines for Addressing Mental Health Emergencies From Christ Episcopal Church, Toms River, New Jersey

The following guidelines are to be used by clergy and staff in the event of a Mental Health emergency.

  1. Whenever possible, try to involve the assistance of another adult who is present (fellow clergy person, staff member, or parishioner). There is safety in numbers.
  2. The primary goal is to stabilize the situation and de-escalate heightened emotional states.
  3. Remember, NEVER use any form of physical restraint on the agitated person. NEVER physically intercede with any type of physical altercation between two or more people.
  4. Speak to the person calmly, slowly, and compassionately; try to understand what has caused this person to suddenly become so upset. At the same time, you need to clearly establish limits and boundaries. It may become necessary to advise the person that the police may need to be called if the person becomes violent, threatening in any fashion, or is unwilling to follow your directives.
  5. Whenever it is safely possible, try to relocate the person away from a crowded situation. If the emergency were to take place in Church or the Chapel, ask the person to step outside of that space to a hallway or other unoccupied area. Removing the person to a different space is very helpful in the de-escalation process.
  6. If there is a verbal altercation/conflict between two or more people, it is very important that you take control of the situation quickly by firmly instructing each of them to physically move away from each other. Speak to each person separately; give them equal opportunity to tell their side of the story.
  7. Remember, never hesitate to contact the police (particularly if you are dealing with a situation alone). Safety is always the primary concern. Whenever possible, you should carry your cell phone in a concealed place (i.e. your pocket) and have it turned on and set to “vibrate.”
  8. If the person appears to be too irrational to reason with, appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is violent, or seems out of touch with reality, the police should be contacted immediately and advised that there is a Mental Health emergency that requires hospitalization.
  9. Following any type of Mental Health emergency, Mother Joan should be contacted immediately (555-555-5555) and advised of the situation. You will be asked to write a brief narrative of the event, which will include your signature and the date of the incident.
For more information contact:
Christ Episcopal Church
415 Washington Street
Toms River, New Jersey, 08753

Thompson Child & Family Focus

A ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Charlotte-based Thompson Child & Family Focus provides a wide range of prevention- and treatment-focused mental and behavioral healthcare services for children and families.



Created by clergy and laity of the Diocese of Atlanta and launched in May 2009, CareForTheTroops is a 501c3 non-profit “…meant to be an interfaith effort to help all who have mental health needs associated with the current and previous wars. …primary target audiences are not only the military member and their immediate family, but also the entire extended family system, congregation and community leaders, and civilian mental health professionals to help them better understand the military culture and trauma, and thus be better equipped to help those in need.”

CareForTheTroops was featured in the July 2009 issue of EMIN News.


Diocese of Virginia Mental Health Committee

The committee’s mission is to “…seek to live out the reconciling love of Jesus by offering educational programs and networking resources so that the Church may be a welcoming sanctuary for people living with mental illness.” Their work includes helping congregations in the Diocese of Virginia find ways to include those affected by mental illness in the life of the Church, connecting parishes with local and regional volunteer opportunities, providing educational resources and events in order to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.

Resolution 2000-C032: Urge Congregations to Commend and Support Mental Health Support Groups

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention urge all congregations of the Episcopal Church to seek out and commend local members of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and other mental health support groups for their valiant struggle of many years to support and educate the general public, that many mental illnesses are brain disorders that may be treatable with new medications and other forms of treatment; and be it further

Resolved, That congregations be encouraged to read, study, and implement relevant portions of Resolution D088, entitled “Encourage Understanding of Mental Illness and Respond to the Needs of the Mentally Ill” (see explanation) adopted by the 1991 General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That congregations offer their facilities to local members of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and other mental health support groups, for the purpose of educating and supporting family members of the mentally ill.

General Convention, Journal of the 73rd General Convention of…The Episcopal Church, Denver, 2000 (New York: General Convention, 2001), p. 610. Final text and legislative history may be accessed online through the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

Resolution 1991-D088: Encourage Understanding of Mental Illness and Respond to the Needs of the Mentally Ill

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That members of the Episcopal Church are encouraged to become knowledgeable about mental illness in order to reduce stigma and stereotypes which are prevalent within the Church body and the Community-at-large; and be it further

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church and all its units and organizations, be encouraged to reach out, welcome, include and support persons with a mental illness, particularly those who have a prolonged, serious mental illness, and the families of those persons, and recognize the abilities and celebrate the gifts of those who have a mental illness; and be it further

Resolved, That the church encourage the development of specific programs to equip the clergy and laity for ministry to the mentally ill and their families and that clergy and lay ministers seek out training and opportunities to minister to the spiritual needs of those who are affected by a mental illness; and be it further

Resolved, That dioceses and congregations work with existing agencies and organizations to assist with and initiate programs, such as support groups, drop-in centers, housing and employment opportunities, which lead to an improved quality of life for people who have a mental illness, with specific attention to those who have become homeless; and be it further

Resolved, That dioceses, congregations and individual parishioners become advocates for public policy and adequate funding to provide comprehensive community-based services, hospital care and research into the causes and treatment of mental illness; and be it further

Resolved, That dioceses, congregations and individuals utilize the resources and support services offered by the Episcopal Mental Illness Network (EMIN) of the Presiding Bishop’s Task Force on Accessibility.

General Convention, Journal of the 70th General Convention of…The Episcopal Church, Phoenix, 1991 (New York: General Convention, 1992), p. 822. Final text and legislative history may be accessed online through the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

A Helpful Resource: National Episcopal Health Ministries

EMIN News readers might want to explore the wealth of information available on the website of the National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM) at www.episcopalhealthministries.org.

According to the website, NEHM’s vision is “that every Episcopal congregation becomes a vibrant, caring place of health and wholeness.” Its mission is “to promote health ministry in Episcopal congregations, assisting them to reclaim the Gospel imperative of health and wholeness.”

The NEHM serves by educating leaders for Episcopal health ministry and parish nursing; supporting those engaged in health ministry in Episcopal congregations through membership opportunities; providing resources to local congregations, dioceses, and provinces; and collaborating with other faith communities, institutions, and health organizations.

The NEHM CEO, Matthew Ellis, gave us a chance to blog about EMIN and mental illness issues in May for Mental Health Month. We look forward to other opportunities to partner with NEHM.

Trinity Episcopal Parish in Wethersfield, Connecticut, Receives Community Award

On behalf of his parish, The Rev. Scott Lee, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Weathersfield, Connecticut, received the Phyllis Redfield Award in July, 2013, from Common Ground, the Social Rehabilitation Club of InterCommunity, Inc. According to the Wethersfield Courant, Fr. Scott is a five-year member of the InterCommunity Board of Directors and has actively supported the social club and opened the doors of the parish to welcome the group for its coffeehouse social gatherings—all with the full support of the Trinity Vestry and congregation. The award is named in honor of Phyllis Redfield who served InterCommunity for more than 30 years, first as a volunteer and later as a member of the organization’s staff.

“The award reflects the sincere appreciation of the club’s members and comes directly from them,” said Kimberly Beauregard, InterCommunity president and CEO. “It is awarded annually to someone who has consistently shown support of this important social group.”

“Individuals with mental health issues face challenges on a daily basis,” said Paul Acker, Common Ground coordinator, “and valuable assistance comes most especially through interaction with community. Fr. Scott and Trinity Parish have provided a community in which club members can interact and hone their social skills in a comfortable and welcoming environment. As this award recognizes outstanding contributions to the club, Fr. Scott and Trinity Parish are deserving of this recognition.”

“This award is truly for all of Trinity Parish who support and enable our ministry with InterCommunity,” said Fr. Scott. “We are very pleased to be able to share our building with them from time to time and to provide the opportunity for community service for Common Ground’s members. They have my great admiration for the courage and strength with which they face life’s challenges.”

For more information about InterCommunity: http://www.intercommunityct.org/

Trinity Episcopal Church serves the faith community of Wethersfield and surrounding towns by offering open and welcoming religious and social services for the purpose of serving all people who seek friendship in an embracing community. More about Trinity at www.trinityepiscopalweth.org.

Editor’s note: Arkansas readers will recognize The Rev. Scott Lee as a priest who served the diocese of Arkansas before being called to Wethersfield.

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 (mtanner@bellsouth.net)

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