As the health and social service general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the NBA takes seriously its call to create communities of compassion and care. In doing so, the NBA has been called to engage in dialogue and action centered on issues related to mental health.
The new Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group will serve as a network of support for Disciples congregations and communities engaged in spiritual care and advocacy ministries with those affected by mental illness and/or mental health disorders. Throughout the fall and winter of 2015-16, a research and design team met regularly to define the purpose and goals of the full affinity group launching in 2016. With hopes to impact life across the church, the Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group (MHAG) has four main vision areas centered on mental health maintenance and recovery:
- Counter stigma of mental health challenges to help cultivate a welcoming, educated, inclusive church
- Provide resources and educational support for Disciples congregations, clergy, seminarians, and community members
- Collaborate and connect with existing ministries, organizations, and initiatives
- Encourage the sustainability of mental health ministries in congregations, regions, and the general church.
To fulfill each vision area, the MHAG aims to support ministries of the church in becoming adept at identifying and addressing issues related to mental health and congregational life, through webinars, workshops, monthly blogs, and resources posted to the website. An emphasis will be put on gathering, creating, and inspiring mental health-focused liturgical resources and theological reflections for congregational worship and education. The MHAG also aims to address issues of injustice related to mental health services and policies through an advocacy team that will work in collaboration with other NBA Affinity Groups pursing justice work.
Additionally, the MHAG looks to support and partner with regional leadership, to accompany the regional church in efforts to prioritize clergy wellness, and offer specialized resources promoting clergy mental health.
Stories and Resources
As the Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group begins to launch this year, you can start engaging with us in a variety of ways, including:
- A monthly blog series and email distribution, featuring guest authors exploring topics such as the stigma of mental illness in the church, holding a Mental Health Sunday in your congregation, working with youth with mental health challenges or cognitive differences, mental health challenges in immigrant communities, and more.
- A webinar series, including "Speaking into the Silence: Storytelling as a Path to Healing" and "Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear: Mental Health, the Criminal Justice System, and the Church," in partnership with the NBA Prison and Jail Ministries Affinity Group.
- Video resources, including our popular "Mental Health for the Holidays" series.
“So often we celebrate the many layers of diversity within our denomination, while centering our witness in encouraging the multitude to gather at the table in one spirit. And now, with the leadership of this group, I am excited that we can deepen this articulation of diversity to incorporate the more complex aspects of our humanity, and expand our celebration to lift up the fullness of our testimonies without shame or stigma." --Angela Whitenhill, Convener, Mental Health Affinity Group
- Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick, Director of Disciples Care Exchange and Affinity Group Ministries
- Angela Whitenhill, Convener, NBA Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group
The Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group is a shared effort with Disciples Home Missions, in response to the passing of Resolution GA-1523 “Becoming A People of Welcome and Support to People with Mental Illness and/or Mental Health Issues” by the 2015 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We look forward to deepening our partnerships and shared work as the affinity group launches in 2016!
To learn more and get involved, please contact Angela Whitenhill, convener, NBA Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group, or fill out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!