Mental Health is a big and important subject for many people, but it has often been talked about in the shadows or, more commonly, not talked about at all. Christian churches have sometimes equated mental health programs with sin or brokenness. At First Church Berkeley we believe that mental health is a part of life, and that mental illness is a normal part of a community of diverse experiences.
The Mental Health Ministry seeks to encourage our congregation to welcome those living with mental health challenges and their loved ones. We seek to educate ourselves about mental health with Forum presentations and also to provide support in a confidential setting with our Spiritual Support Group. We have a Companionship Team which actively engages with people at church who may be isolated or having a challenging day.
The Mental Health Ministry spearheaded First Church’s journey to vote in February 2019 to become a Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged (WISE) Congregation for Mental Health, a designation within the United Church of Christ. We actively support an atmosphere of openness and acceptance of those with mental health challenges, creating a place of belonging where truly everyone is welcome and is a part of our church community.
Led for many years by our Parish Nurse, Robin Kempster, the Mental Health Ministry is now led by a three-member steering committee and a strong team of others. Rev. Kelly is the pastor-liaison to this ministry.
The Mental Health Ministry maintains a library of books on topics related to mental health and spirituality. The library is located within Durant House on our church campus. Books may be checked out by any member to learn more about your own mental health, to become better equipped to provide support to a family member or loved one experiencing mental health challenges, or to simply be more ready to welcome others at church!
The Mental Health Ministry has offered several learning hours in the past few years on topics related to mental health. Recordings of these will be made available here soon.
If you are interested in joining any activity, all you have to do is show up!
For more information, email Rev. Kelly!