From THE CHRISTIAN POST:
Three Christian churches in Murfreesboro, Tenn., are tackling the stigma that accompanies mental illness through their Celebrate Recovery programs by offering support to members of their churches and community who suffer from unstable mental health. Those with mental disorders have found the group meetings to be a safe haven where they can shed their shame and feel embraced.
Bill Peters, ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery, said, “One of the biggest myths about dealing with the pain behind mental illness is that people have to get over their issues before connecting with a church or support group. That is why all three congregations focus on supporting individuals rather than trying to “fix” them, which allows attendees to open up about their issues without hesitation.”
Oh, spot on, Mr Peters. When I ended up in hospital with a serious bout of a depressive illness my bishop at the time, Martin Wharton, tried, and eventually succeeded in pushing me out of my priestly employment because of his bigotry and his complete lack of understanding about mental illness. That none of my colleagues have bothered to contact me since I was dismissed and nobody from the Church has made any serious ongoing attempt to offer me any pastoral support (other than to tell me off for being angry about the treatment I received from church officials), it seems obvious that nobody (from the greatest to the least) wants me anywhere near the church. Hence, my lonely and so far unsuccessful attempt to support myself through my ministry on the internet.
I am really pleased that three evangelical churches somewhere on the other side of the world have begun to understand the mentally troubled should not be treated like medieval lepers and punished by being exiled from their spiritual homes. But this story also reminds me of just how far the bishops and clergy of the Church of England have to go along the path of understanding and compassion towards those who have or have had issues with their mental health.
If you would like to support me in my attempt to live out my vocation even though my Church does not believe a person who has suffered from a mental illness should be allowed to have one, (certainly not a paid one) then please consider becoming a patron of my ministry and the Saint Laika Online Christian Community. Full details of how you can help can be found HERE.
So far, since I relaunched the Saint Laika project, not one new subscription has been taken out by anybody other than by a couple of people who already subscribe. I am beginning to believe that I will never succeed in realising my dream.