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Bishop Ronald Godbee Sr., Lead Pastor of The River Church, "Faith, Compassion, and Healing: A Faith Leader's Reflection on Mental Health"

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  Faith, Compassion, and Healing: A Faith Leader's Reflection on Mental Health                                                                    -- Bishop Ronald Godbee, The River Church   Dear Readers, I come to you today not just as a faith leader but as a fellow traveler on the journey of life, navigating the often-uncharted waters of mental health. In our African American communities, where faith is not just a belief system but a cornerstone of identity, it is imperative that we engage in open conversations about mental health to dispel stigma and offer hope. Understanding Mental Health Across Faith Groups: Our various faith communities each bring a unique perspective to the table. From the rhythmic cadences of gospel hymns to the solemn prayers echoing through mosques, the tapestry of faith is rich and diverse. Yet, one common thread unites us – the acknowledgment that mental health challenges affect us all. Consider the stories of clergy members in o

The Rev. J. Clarkson, Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, "When Love is Not Enough…And When It is"

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  When Love is Not Enough…And When It is                                                                                         –The Rev. J. Clarkson At some point during the pandemic, when there were still limits on how many people could attend worship in person but after our staff was able to work in the office again, Charlie started to visit us. At first, he would come into the building, find a secluded room, and sit in the air conditioning on a hot day. Once I realized he was here, I invited him to sit in our library. While I hoped this would feel more welcoming for him, I also sensed that we needed to have clear boundaries with Charlie. Our church was once a simple country parish, and it has become a part of the suburban environment that has grown up around it. While we often see more than 100 neighboring families at our client-choice food pantry, we get visits from houseless individuals much less frequently. Usually, they are folks who, for one reason or another, cannot tolerate

Karen Miller, Director of Children and Youth Ministries, Church of Reconciliation, "The Beauty in Safe Spaces for our Youth"

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  The Beauty in Safe Spaces for our Youth -        Karen L Miller I grew up in the 80’s and, like many Gen X’ers, there were things you just did not discuss. Honestly, they were so seldom talked about that I did not even have names for them. My father had an anxiety attack when I was young that he mistook for a heart attack. That ended up being used against him as a joke by others, as if a panic attack made him weak because it wasn’t a real heart attack. My sister had a similar situation happen as well, but it was “just a panic attack” and never treated as a medical issue. I found out, as an adult, that my best friend growing up was gay. Duh. It all made sense in retrospect, but I don’t think I even knew what gay really was back then. We just never talked about these things. Did I just say “back then?” I did, because my childhood is now antiquated. Hard to admit, but I am glad it is. I often hear people of my generation (& older) wax poetic about their childhoods. You w

The Reverend Elizabeth Marie Melchionna, Rector of The Chapel of the Cross, "The Dignity of Every Human Being"

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  The Dignity of Every Human Being  -The Reverend Elizabeth Marie Melchionna That spring morning brought cold and damp to Denver. Grey skies and low clouds gave the thirty-four degrees rainy morning a rather grim feel. Inside the walls of the cathedral spaces, folks were bustling from a morning service after being dismissed - making their way to formation, parents were dropping off children for church school, and choristers were preparing to rehearse for the 11am service. Looking down the long aisle of the nave, I noticed a man making his way to a pew, a long shoelace trailing behind his shoe, damp, frayed. And from his lips came the sharp, tangy smell of smoke as he puffed and exhaled on his cigarette. I went to the man to welcome him, and also to invite him to finish his cigarette outdoors, which he did. And we began to talk. As our conversation continued and the cigarette was finished, I invited him to sit inside. Parishioners joined us, with one serving him a cup of coffee, and ano

Elder Gloria Rentrope, MSSA, Christian Revival Ministries – “Soul Shop™ for Black Churches Suicide Prevention Workshop: From the Eyes of One”

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  “Soul Shop™ for Black Churches Suicide Prevention Workshop: From the Eyes of One” --Elder Gloria Rentrope, MSSA, Christian Revival Ministries The statistics are startling: Black Children between the ages of 5 - 11 years are dying by suicide at TWO times the rate of their white counterparts. Black American suicide rates rose THIRTY percent between 2014 and 2019.  Black men die by suicide at THREE times the rate of black women.  Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for black youth between the ages of 15 to 24 years.  I did not initially jump at the chance to help host a Soul Shop Workshop as part of the FCMI Suicide Prevention/Reduction Task Force. That’s a huge commitment of effort and time! But my hesitation was short-lived as those horrific numbers were revealed while investigating the Soul Shop™ for Black Churches program. The more I learned, the more my passion rose to “Do something!”   After dual careers as both a Clinical Social Worker and a Pastor’s wif