Helping Churches Deal with Mental Illness in Ontario

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More than 200 people attended a conference in Cobourg, Ontario, to learn more about being a supportive Christian community for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

The conference was organized by Faith & Hope Ministries, a ministry of Classis Quinte (a regional group of churches).

Winnie Visser, a member of Fellowship CRC in Brighton, Ontario, and resource consultant for Faith & Hope Ministries, said the response to the conference was very positive. She thought it was hopeful that “people don’t feel so alone in their journey.”

According to Rev. Mark Stephenson, Director of Disability Concerns for the CRC, there is an increasing awareness of mental health concerns in the church. Visser is also encouraged. “We are finally allowing ourselves to talk about [mental illness],” she said. She hopes that similar conferences can begin bridging the gap between churches and other mental health resources.

This year’s Disability Concerns emphasis week in October will focus on mental health, if approved by Synod 2010 (the church’s annual leadership meeting).

About the Author

Brenda Visser is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classis Eastern Canada.

See comments (1)


I grew up in the CRC and now attend the RCUS. My wife of 22 years has not claimed Jesus as her Lord. For the past 10 years I have been dealing with the issue of her alcoholism and mental illness. She has currently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. I have struggled with what is my role as husband and father through all of this.

I applaud your efforts to deal with the subject but feel the starting point is missing in what I have read so far. Shouldn't you ask 1)What does the Bible say on this matter? 2)What is the "good news" for those diognosed with mental illness? 3)Is it an illness or something else? 4)If we believe in the Holy Spirit's ability to change lives, how does that apply here?

"Competent to Council" by Jay Adams was very helpful to me in my wrestling on this issue. I am curious to know your thoughts on this work.

Your intentions are admirable. I would suggest putting all of the medical/philological information aside and starting fresh with a biblical approach to the issue of the problem and the cure.

Your brother in Christ,
Kevin Te Slaa