TEC & CofE – An Ocean Apart When It Comes To Mental Illness

Untitled-1From THE LEAD:

One of the great gifts of being in Christian community is celebrating the love that surrounds us on every side. And yet, many of our sisters and brothers suffer from isolation, even in the context of the Christian body, because of mental illness and associated stigma. In a new blog called Unorthodox and Unhinged, the Rev. Joani Peacock, priest associate at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va and a librarian at the Bishop Payne Library at Virginia Theological Seminary, tells her story. As an Episcopalian living with bipolar disorder, Joani describes herself as a "mental health evangelist" whose aim is to highlight the need for mental health awareness in parishes and communities of faith. In addition to Unorthodox and Unhinged, Episcopalians elsewhere are speaking out, educating, and taking concrete steps to honor the dignity of every human being with mental illness.

I wish Joani well in her endeavours to lessen the stigma attached to mental illness. It would appear that she already has many people, at all levels of the Episcopal Church in the USA, on message. And, best of all, she has a job and is attached to a church. I assume that this means she is allowed to pursue her God-given vocation as a priest.

On the other hand, it busts me up inside I am so jealous. It must be so wonderful to be part of a church the bishops of which do not discriminate against you, dismiss you from your job, throw you out of your house, refuse to allow you to practice as a priest and destine you to an old age in poverty because you will not have a sufficient pension fund just because you suffer from depression. It must also be wonderful to have colleagues that do not turn their back on you, gossip about how you should never work again, never call and pretend you do not exist, again, just because you suffer from or have suffered from depression. I have had to put up with all this and the immense pain that goes with it simply because I had the bad luck of being a priest in the Church of England and not the Episcopal Church. I have a sneaking suspicion that if the bishop of Newcastle's wife had given birth to a child with mental health problems or learning disabilities he would have had the kid bricked up in the attic of his palace and would have told no one of the child's existence.


TEC & CofE – An Ocean Apart When It Comes To Mental Illness — 3 Comments

  1. We share much in common, my brother across the pond. Unorthodox and Unhinged is my witness to the church with a lower case ‘c’ as well as a capital ‘C’ how normal it is to have things go wrong with our brains. And this is about ALL of us. And yes I am most blessed to have the support of The Church Pension Fund, to serve as priest associate at Emmanuel, and play a very small part at Virginia Seminary. I pray that our Mother Church and wake up to the 21st century truth that they are the ones who should be ashamed for their ignorance and treatment of those called into the church’s service as well as any and all in the pews. Keep telling the truth. It really matters. Peace. Joani Peacock

  2. Well, it’s not like us Yanks have ever before encouraged you to cross the Pond for greener pastures. Oh wait…

    Come on, MP. Give ‘Merka a TRY? Perhaps Rev Peacock (Hello! May I call you Joani?) can give you some good networking connections here…

  3. I would second JCF’s comment – I realize that leaving the country and all your kith and kin would be traumatic, but surely the state you are in now, with very little chance of that changing, must be at least as traumatic as moving. At 55, you would have a good 15 years of service as a priest. The priest who built the church I attend was from England, and he did very well – we are one of the 20 largest Episcopal churches in the US, and growing. We are searching for a new rector (no doubt a suitable candidate has been found) but there are a number of churches that would need new clergy as the current priests retire. It would appear you have been cut off where you are….