Rev. John Marshall Crowe, D.Min.,

Member of NC NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Member of the Wayne County Mental Health Association

Recipient of the 2002 President's Award from the Mental Health Association of NC

Upon the spouse’s fourth hospitalization, a LCSW gave her husband a brochure about NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). That summer, he joined the newly formed NAMI-Affiliate in his area.

In the spring, that affiliate and the one in a nearby county worked together in offering the Family-to-Family Class for family and friends of the mentally ill. When they covered Advocacy in class, he thought of writing a resolution to the Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in his state. Both clergy and laity gather yearly during in June to make various decisions.

Until then, he had never written a resolution on mental health. Neither had he ever seen such a resolution in almost 20 years of pastoral ministry.

His very first two whereas statement opened the resolution with “Jesus came preaching, teaching, and healing. . . continues through the Church.” Then he drew from the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. Among the many other strong points of his ministry, he wrote a sound book on home health remedies; he started dispensaries of medicines to the poor who were being charged way too much; he advocated for better hospital conditions; and his view of Christian living contributes to spiritual, physical and mental health.

He also mentioned the prayer service for healing and wholeness in our new United Methodist Hymnal. From there, he wrote concerning the Social Principles related to mental health, advocacy, the role of government in health care, and the right of all persons to have equal access to health care.

All of these details demonstrate how to do church based advocacy from both a biblical and a denominational perspective. Then include some whereas statements about changes in the state mental health plan and what congress has yet to do about parity. From there include some statements about NAMI. Be sure to mention Shirley H. Strobel's Creating a Circle of Caring: the Church and the Mentally Ill.

The therefore let it be resolved part of a resolution to a church body like his needs to include a call for whatever group in the church addresses social concerns to advocate on both the state and national level. If you are a United Methodist, request that the District Superintendent ask each church about their activity and plans for ministry in the area of mental health. Also, ask your denominational leadership to offer mental health and the church workshops. Last but not least, encourage your denomination to use Shirely’s book as well as the many other resources that NAMI national printed in the recent Advocate. Furthermore, once your resolution passes like his did, then stay in touch with the appropriate people to keep up on their follow through.

Two years later, he wrote two more resolutions for his Annual Conference. Actually, he modified both of these from resolutions shared on methvision. It is a United Methodist e-mail group focused on mental health and the church.

Your advocacy for mental health within the church will go much further if you can find a group like methvision where you can support and resource each other. Also, maybe you are the person to start one if it does not already exist.

Both of his resolutions came originally from Margaret Ann in VA via methvision with her permission to use them in our own areas. The first one called for lifting up mental illness concerns in worship services in October; publicizing mental health resource information in church newsletters; and Utilize the video resource “Creating Caring Congregations” during the year.

In addition, we resolved that the NC United Methodist Children’s Home host a conference on mental illness, calling together all pastors and laity in the conference currently involved in mental health ministries; public or private care; and policy and financing. Further, that the Secretary of Human Services Office of North Carolina be invited to participate.

Margaret Ann wrote the second resolution for the quarterly meeting of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church which met this past spring. Due to a technicality, it never reached the floor for a vote. It asked for every United Methodist Conference to establish a conference coordinator of mental health ministries. The Virginia Conference created this position in 1995 in response to the 1992 General Conference’s call for churches to be caring congregations for the mentally ill and their families.

When he learned of Margaret Ann’s petition to the UMC ‘s General Conference failing to make it to the floor, he modified it for the Annual Conference of the UMC in his state, NC. This resolution included a detailed description of what a conference coordinator of mental health ministries does.

Because they raise their Conference budget one year and spend it the next, he requested the salary for this position to be included in the budget they will vote on June 2005 so this new position can be in place by 2007.

Also, instead of presenting these two successful resolutions by himself, he sent them to his colleagues on the Conference Board of Church and Society. They were glad to help.

The end result of all of this effort was the creation of a conference committee on disability concerns that was the outcome of a resolution for a task force on churches and mental health.

Since the formations of that committee the following things have taken place.

The NC Conference of the UMC has made progress in this area with the creation of a permanent disability concerns conference committee that has a strong focus on mental illness. Our conference media center now has several DVDs from Mental Health Ministries about mental illness and the church and the conference web site has a page with several links to helpful articles. These DVDs can be checked out for free by pastors for themselves and for their churches. 

2005 North Carolina Mental Health Conference

Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder spoke for a one day conference for clergy and laity that was jointly sponsored by NAMI-NC and the NC Mental Health Association plus the NC Conference of the UMC. It drew a state wide gathering of people. .

The NC Conferenece of the United Methodist Church has several Mental Health Resources which came from a previous web page sponsored by the Conference Committee on Disability Concerns.

 

Church Based Advocacy