Mental Health from the Sacred Desk: How Clergy and Leaders Can Address and Incorporate Mental Health in Their Work

The Mental Health and Wellness Program of the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) prioritizes mental health justice and wellness equity for the upliftment of all people. As a part of this program initiative, in collaboration with the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), during Black History Month 2024, we provided culturally relevant spaces to practice and discuss resources for Black mental health and wellness.

Statistics show that clergy are often the first point of contact when congregants are facing mental health concerns. This is even higher in the Black community as historically, the Black church was the only space to receive care. Our leaders need to know ways to reduce stigma, normalize receiving mental health care, and incorporate wellness practices in what they teach and how they lead. Our panelists shared culturally relevant ways, including sermons, liturgy, music, and more, to address mental health from the pulpit and in other leadership positions.


Joselyn Spence (Host)

Joselyn Spence serves as the Director of the NBA’s Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. In this role, Joselyn works to design and implement programs that promote holistic wellness across all NBA programs. This work is done through the creation of learning resources for clergy and community leaders, addressing the needs of pastors in a variety of ministry settings, sharing the stories that help to eliminate stigmas related to mental health and wellness. She is passionate about mental health care, holistic wellness, communal care ethics, and spirituality. As a holistic wellness specialist, she has worked at the intersection of these passions to develop research and provide empathic care to all she is called to serve.

Dr. Delesslyn Audra Kennebrew, J.D., M.Div. is a Visionary Strategist, Faithful Innovator, Inspirational Essayist, and Energizing Preacher. Currently, she serves as the Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation and Associate General Minister.

For 16 years, she has worked to give life to the vision and mission of local churches and is currently intrigued by conversations that consider the intersection of faith, innovation, design thinking, and social transformation. She has a passion for helping churches to discern, discover, and develop what’s next. Dr. Kennebrew has also learned the value of rest and has embarked upon a social entrepreneurship endeavor, Morning Glory Retreat, a place for clergy to rest. She launched this endeavor with NBA’s Social Entrepreneurship Cohort in 2021.

She is a proud graduate of Loyola University New Orleans (B.A. Mass Communications), the University of Arkansas School of Law (J.D.), Emory University – Candler School of Theology (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological School (D.Ed.Min., Doctor of Educational Ministry). Her ministry motto is Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Rev. Orlando Scott is a Lead Chaplain at Northside Hospital System. For over six years, he has joyfully served as a Contextual Education Supervisor for the Candler School of Theology.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Orlando and a faithful few launched AMPLIFY Christian Church in Snellville, GA. He currently serves as a Trustee with the National Benevolent Association and the National Convocation. He enjoys Africana Studies, art, and photographing nature. When he is not maneuvering around Atlanta traffic, Orlando enjoys the joyful presence of his two teenagers.


Rev. Alexis Tardy is a Minister and former member of the National Benevolent Association Peer Learning and Wellness Group, La Lucha (The Struggle). Currently, Tardy works at Disciples Home Mission as the Coordinator for Ministry with Youth & Young Adults.

Before returning to Indianapolis, Indiana in 2020, Alexis was the Program Director at Faith and For the Sake of All, where she organized trainings and workshops to end racial disparities in Saint Louis, Missouri. As a consultant for Urban Strategies, she’s also mentored youth and worked with families and community leaders in Ferguson, Missouri. Alexis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in Womanist Preaching degree at Memphis Theological Seminary.