With “In the Tangle of the Mind,” (Summer 2022) Rev. Dr. Cedrick Von Jackson elevates some of the issues around mental health and the church.
If Dr. Jackson is accurate in suggesting congregations mirror communities so that between 20 and 25% of individuals in a congregation might have some mental health concern, alarm bells should be ringing. Yet, because mental health concerns aren’t the same as a broken arm or cancer, they cannot be thought of as isolated issues mostly experienced by the individual in crisis. If a parent has an addiction, their spouse and children are also experiencing an addiction. If a child has a mental health diagnosis, that child’s family is also deeply impacted. Getting serious about turning the tide in the conversation around mental health means thinking systemically about the scope of who is impacted, the causes and triggers of mental health concerns, and how we need each other for healing and support. This may also mean that 100% of our congregations are impacted by mental health concerns.
Of greater worry is how leaders in the church continue to be problematic for individuals and families learning to face the reality of their mental health. A near majority of people having their mental health concern minimized or dismissed by their minister is malpractice that should not be tolerated. At the very least, we might imagine that many local church ministers are ill-equipped to understand or support, in healthy and appropriate ways, the mental health needs of their people because mental health wasn’t emphasized enough in their seminary educations. Given all that is at stake in the lives of people and with the future of the church, there is more learning to do.
Rev. Matt DuVall
Director of Development, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
The stories of our hermanas in “The Power from Grace” (Summer 2022) are the seeds of a growing, needed revolution. We see the tip of the iceberg of what they have journeyed through to the roles they are now playing. The leadership they have forged in struggle reflects the struggle of our communities. We celebrate their stories, but also know that they have had to pay too high a price. We must do better. All of us in theological education must commit to ensuring that we create the conditions for their thriving – because where they thrive, we all thrive. More than simply creating a few slots so that a few have access to what is already in place, we must exercise a “preferential option” for an emerging generation of Latina/o leaders and other leaders of color – rethinking the whole project through their experience.
President, Pacific School of Religion
I especially liked Amy Kardash’s emphasis on executive sessions (“Executive Session,” Summer 2022). Without them there is less transparency and alignment between board and CEO. In fact, I like TWO executive sessions at every meeting. First, a short one near the front of the agenda without the president to posit one question: “Are there concerns about our president?” If so, the chair asks the president privately to comment during the second session. Everyone goes home knowing any relationship issues between board and its CEO won’t fester into something major.
Managing Partner, The Andringa Group
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