Over 150 people came to Christ the King in Kettering on Saturday 19 October for ‘Mental Health: Healing and Ministry – Binding up the Brokenhearted’ – a mental health conference organised by The St Andrew’s Healthcare Chaplaincy, in partnership with the Diocesan Healing Ministry Group.
Guest speakers were Becky Harcourt – a member of New Wine’s National Leadership Team – and Gill Hampton from All Saints in Woodford Wells, Essex. Becky and Gill shared their own moving personal stories of how they had found hope and healing through prayer and Christian care and ministry. The key emphasis of their talks was on the fact that God’s grace enables us to find freedom from the past, and strength and hope in the present.
Philip Evans, Chaplain at St Andrew’s (pictured below with Gill, Becky and Mandy Cuthbertson – the Bishop’s Healing Ministry Advisor), gave some Bible teaching and explained the three main aims of the day: first to explore how the Church’s healing ministry can best respond to mental illness, secondly to share positive stories of the Church’s ministry, and thirdly to encourage and empower local churches to step out (and not to be diffident) in offering ministry which makes a real and positive difference.
A former St Andrew’s patient shared her lived experience of finding faith while in hospital through a church community in Northampton, and, over time, being discharged, living independently and now serving others in many roles in her church. “Two things have changed my life,” she said, “my medication and my faith in Jesus.”
The day included an Agape time of sharing bread and wine – led by Judy Evans from the Healing Ministry Group as an introduction to the lunch break, while various local leaders ran a range of six well-attended workshops. These workshops looked at the following topics:
- Wellbeing cafés
- A new local church healing ministry course
- Young people and mental health
- Community partnerships and the ‘Ten Keys to Wellbeing’
- The Living Life to the Full with God course
- Mental health champions
Feedback given on the day expressed thanks for “two fantastic keynote speakers”, with the event being described as “a brilliant day, full of valuable practical ideas”.
It was recognised that the day reflected growing positive awareness nationally of mental health issues, addressing stigma, raising understanding, and making positive responses in particular through the Church. Those attending were invited to reflect and comment on what further initiatives or support could be offered – not least as it was impossible to do more than cover a little ground in one day.
Anyone wanting to know more, or offer comments for the future, is invited to drop Philip a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.