Whereas, across the nation and the world, an average of 20% of the population has a mental illness;

Whereas, there is no evidence which shows that being United Methodist protects anyone from the possibility of developing symptoms of mental illness;

Whereas mental illness is a pervasive problem which affects 4 out of 5 families, not exclusive of United Methodists, including clergy and their families of all denominations;

Whereas, there are roughly 16,600,000 United Methodists, on average a minimum 3,320,000 United Methodists probably struggle with a mental illness;

Whereas, there are roughly 233,759 United Methodists within our Conference. 20% of that total number gives us a probable minimum of 46,751 United Methodists and their families probably struggle with a mental illness;

Whereas, the population of North Carolina is 8,049,313, 3,880,601 people live in the counties of our Conference. Thus, probably 776,120 persons and their families struggle with the issues surrounding mental illness;

Whereas, a 2000 study by the General Board of Global Ministries "found the church loving and supportive" but, "they did not find it helpful in trying to deal with the crisis that mental illness caused in their family;"

Whereas: whether your start with Jesus’ teachings, our United Methodist tradition and theology, or a statistical survey, the evidence is overwhelming. The United Methodist Church has a clear foundation for ministry to persons with mental illness and their families to be a part of each congregation's ministry;

Whereas, the lack of effective congregational ministry to persons with mental illness, impacts and interferes with the ability of the Church to function in ways that are fully inclusive and consistent with Biblical teachings;

Whereas, the stigma of mental illness in society as a whole will not be defeated until the Faith Community understands mental illness and the value of each person who has one of these "no fault" disorders;

Whereas, the nationwide UMMIM (United Methodist Mental Illness Ministries) network is concerned that many local United Methodist congregations and annual conferences have not fully embraced the concept of creating "Caring Communities" as described in the Book of Discipline, the drastic changes in our nation’s mental health care calls for our pro-active leadership and intentional involvement in this hurting area of human need;

Whereas, six Annual Conferences currently have full time coordinators for mental health ministries; California-Pacific; Virginia; Oklahoma; Northern Illinois; New England and Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Ministry to persons who have a mental illness and their families is not something to be entered into lightly and these annual conferences recognize that providing a coordinator to resource their work is a beneficial effort;

Whereas, a Conference Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries would endeavor to see that within the Conference, the needs of persons with mental illnesses and their families receive ministry in accordance with the statements in the Book of Discipline and the Book of Resolutions;

Let it therefore, be resolved that the North Carolina Annual Conference establish a conference Coordinator for Mental Illness Ministries to provide for these functions and maintain the connectional relationships by the year 2007 with a line item budget present in the budget presented to this Annual Conference in 2005;

Let it therefore, be further resolves that their specific responsibilities will include the following:

1. Be informed about the status of persons with mental illnesses within the total life of the conference.

2. Participate in education and training conferences offered by faith communities in order to resource church leadership, clergy, seminaries, and congregations.

3. Be a resource for the Conference Committee of Church and Society in addressing the advocacy issues of being a caring community within the church for those with mental illnesses and their families.

4. Be an active participant in the United Methodist Caring Communities Network and in the United Methodist Mental Illness Ministries Network.

5. Develop ways to inform and sensitize the leadership among laity and clergy on issues that affect persons with mental illnesses and their families.

6. Help districts, conference agencies and Boards, congregations and seminaries recognize their cooperative role in sharing God’s love with those who have a mental illness and their families.

7. Advise the annual conference about the progress and effectiveness of efforts to include participation of persons with mental illnesses and their families in the life of the Church.

8. Provide education in the form of programs, seminars, presentations, web page, free handouts at resource tables, etc. to eradicate stigma. The Coordinator shall utilize a committee of volunteers to carry out these education resources.

Petition for a Conference Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries