NBA Deepens Mental Health Initiative and Peer Group Work with Rev. Héctor Hernández as Connect Coordinator
Effective January 1, 2019, the National Benevolent Association welcomes Rev. Héctor Hernández into the new, full-time role of Connect Coordinator.
Over the past four years, the NBA’s work through Connect Ministries has expanded to include the Mental Health Initiative – bringing intentional awareness, dialogue, and programming related to mental health and wellness and the church – and to connecting Disciples from various ministries through Peer Groups centered on education, inspiration, and advocacy. NBA has done this work with Héctor’s support and expertise in a contract capacity, in the roles of Peer Group Convener for the first Prison and Jail Ministries Peer Group and of Hispanic Outreach Coordinator for the Mental Health Initiative. In his new role as Connect Coordinator, Héctor will have greater responsibility for both mental health outreach with particular focus on Disciples Hispanic communities, and the coordination of NBA peer learning and wellness groups.
Building on work initiated in 2017 and as a part of the overall work of the Mental Health Initiative, Héctor will have particular responsibility for working with the Mental Health Initiative Manager in adapting, implementing, and evaluating the Mental Health Initiative design within and in relation to the Disciples Hispanic communities across the church. This includes developing collaborative relationships with the Central Pastoral Office of Hispanic Ministries (Obra Hispana), the Hispanic Convenciones, regions within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), other general ministries, congregations, appropriate ecumenical contacts, and other NBA program areas related to mental health. This work will include artistic expression to help partners and participants reflect on things such as theology, mental health, and group formation, and will use established programmatic strategies such as: peer groups; mentoring groups; events; developing partnerships; educational offerings; ministry of presence; and relationship building.
Given NBA’s expanded and deepened use of the peer learning and wellness group model, Héctor’s work will also support the Director of Connect Ministries in the overall administration of NBA Peer Groups. This includes recruiting, training, and implementing peer groups, and providing group leadership across the diversity of NBA’s programming. The NBA has determined that each of the peer groups has a mental wellness and spiritual care component that is fundamental to the effectiveness of the group model, which has implications for the qualifications of each coordinator. Héctor’s work will include training and supporting peer group coordinators for consistency and excellence.
“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with Héctor, bringing both the Mental Health and Peer Group work to life. I have admired his collegial spirit, invaluable insight, and creative vision for this work, and ministry in general. Working with Héctor has stretched and developed me in ways I cannot begin to count,” says Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick, Director of Connect Ministries. “I’m excited to continue this journey with Héctor in a full-time capacity, as the seeds he has planted over the last two years have grown into a backyard garden, and are now spreading into a pasture of new possibilities for the church and Disciples communities for years to come!”
As the health and social services general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the National Benevolent Association partners with congregations, regions, general ministries, and a variety of Disciples-related health and social service providers to create communities of compassion and care. Founded in 1887 by six women responding to the needs of the day and on their doorsteps, for more than 130 years the NBA has continued to serve “the least of these.” Learn more at www.nbacares.org.