Saturday, January 24, 2004

Clergy who counsel the ill,
addicted given assistance

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - Many people turn to their spiritual leaders for guidance and counseling. Members of the Faith Outreach for Recovery and Mental Health, a group of pastors and mental health and addiction activists, are working to make sure the clergy have the information they need to help people.

"Often, people will come and ask, either for themselves or a family member, for help with mental illness or addiction, and when that happens, it's good that the clergy have the answers or know where to get them," said the Rev. Florence Beaujon, a retired Presbyterian minister and member of the outreach group. "An informed clergy are an important ingredient to a healthy congregation."

The group, teamed with the Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties, is distributing about 100 information packets this month to clergy in those counties.

The packets have information on specific illnesses and addiction, and contacts for agencies that can help as well as information about how to incorporate mental illness and addiction awareness into congregational life - through bulletins, in youth groups and through religious programming.

"Many times when people are distressed, they turn to someone they know and trust and that's often a pastor," said John Cummings, director of communication for Mental Health Recovery Services.

In Hamilton County, the Faith Council has been working to improve awareness of mental health issues and held clergy training days and curriculum for teaching congregations.

For the Rev. Anne Wrider, canon at Christ Church Cathedral downtown and a former social worker, education and training are the best ways to make clergy and faith communities more comfortable dealing with mental illness.

For more information on the program in Warren and Clinton counties, contact Cummings at 513-695-1692. And for more on the Hamilton County training programs, contact Nikki Irwin, Compeer coordinator, at 287-8546.

NEW PASTORS: St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Evanston and the Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Forest Park will both install pastors this weekend.

The Rev. Gerald Shelton Collins, who served at churches in New York City before serving as interim rector at St. Andrew's, will be installed as rector at the church, 1809 Rutland Ave., at 2 p.m. today by Right Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr., the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Pastor Charles L. Scott Sr., who was pastor of an A.M.E. church in Toledo, will be installed at Quinn Chapel, 10998 Southland Blvd., at 4 p.m. Sunday.

To submit religion news, e-mail or send a fax to 755-4150.

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