When liturgy and worship become the work of the people, space for the sacred stories of those living with mental health conditions begin to have space in the collective experience. Isolation can break down and connection can be formed as people begin to understand the deep humanity of their neighbor in the pew. Remember that worship is a collective act, and the collective is only truly inclusive when all can participate in a meaningful way in the act of worship.
From the United Church of Christ to the Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to the Church of the Brethren, pastors across denominations are encountering people in acute mental health crisis. Despite the sustained stigma surrounding mental health in Christian circles, many people still turn to their local pastor before seeking out care from a mental health provider or physician. This undergirds the importance of clergy and church communities becoming better equipped to be welcoming and affirming spaces for those with mental health conditions.
I am uninterested in living into the false image of the flawless pastor. I’d always rather be the authentic pastor, the one who has been to the valley and sits with another individual who is traversing those shadowy passages themselves.