Education and resources about mental illness at Silver Spring (Md.) Christian Reformed Church are the a result of a team effort.
Gladys VanderWoude is the church’s contact for Disability Concerns and Jennifer Renkema is a member of Micah 6:8, the congregation’s social justice committee.
“I read about mental illness as a social justice issue in the Calvin College Spark,” Renkema explained. “I started thinking that the Micah 6:8 team should include various social justice issues in its educational goals for the upcoming year.” Renkema surveyed the congregation on various issues they’d be interested in learning more about, and mental illness ranked number 5.
Amy Wallish prepared a presentation about mental illness and how the church community can help people and their families who have been touched by mental illness. Four church members discussed their experiences with mental illness at the meeting.
This was only the latest in a series of efforts to make the church inclusive for everyone, spearheaded by VanderWoude along with Bernadette Bindewald and Erica Schwartz of the accessibility and inclusion committee.
Previous events have included a presentation on vision loss and blindness. Another time, VanderWoude gave a presentation on communicating with people who have memory loss.
As a result of the work of these two committees, the church has more tools and resources than ever to make the congregation more inclusive.
After the most recent presentation, Wallish noted, “There’s been more conversation and support from church members with others who struggle with mental health issues.”