October 31, 2019
Late October is a time for scary stuff like zombie movies and parades of candy-seeking ghosts. Why not? It’s Halloween. For the past several years, Galilee has marked this season with a trunk or treat at our annual Fall Fest. But this year, we didn’t do that because we discerned a need in the community to address something else. Not fun scary stuff, but real scary stuff.
- We believe Paul in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
At the Better Angels Workshop on October 26th, we confronted real political division. At a Community Conversation on Oct 27th, we confronted the scary challenges of mental health and suicide awareness.
Better Angels Workshop
Because our nation is witnessing abhorrent acts of random violence, sometimes political in nature, we thought it important to emphasize peace. Because the political climate is filled with hurtful rhetoric, we thought it important to embrace dialogue. So we hosted a Better Angels workshop.
Participants and observers in our bipartisan workshop.
This was an exercise that could have produced anxiety. Thirteen participants from Galilee and elsewhere willingly and publicly divided themselves into two teams: red and blue. The red team represented the conservative, Republican side of the political spectrum. The blue team represented the liberal or Democrat philosophy. They sat down and talked. They didn’t argue.
Over eight hours, the teams engaged in activities designed to focus listening and engender calm understanding. At the end, these thirteen people agreed on some things: like that the other side was not represented well by the media. And that America has problems to which both sides offer solutions. But most important, they agreed that they liked one another as people.
No one wanted to “own” the other side in debate. No one wanted to “destroy” the other’s point of view. Human beings are too fragile and precious to treat in a fearful manner. Better Angels helped this group see one another as human beings.
Mental Health and Suicide Awareness
No one in America needs to be told that violence is epidemic. But it’s not just the spectacular acts of mass violence that scare us. There’s also a quieter, more private violence that we are perpetrating against ourselves when we live lives of isolation. That grim statistics of this violence are recorded as depression, addiction, unhealthy absorption in media, and suicide.
Sign up here for Mental Health First Aid.
Galilee is not immune. Just this month we buried one of our own, a beloved member of our church family. We resolved that we would face these problems with all their stigma, all their inherent fear, and find ways to help individuals and families who suffer.
Pastor Jason, in consultation with community nurse and Galilee member Deb Harney, convened a conversation on mental health. Approximately two dozen people attended, drawn either because they have experience with depression or anxiety, or because they’ve lost loved ones through suicide, or because they are trained to help.
The testimony from survivors of depression and people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide was more affecting than we can say. This is a problem we need to be aware of in our friends and co-workers—even those who appear to have it all together.
We’ve got resources.
Allegra Joffe, a Christian counselor specializing in at-risk youth and adults, told us about her organization, PRS. They run a crisis link for suicidal people who can talk to caring, trained counselors by calling 800-273-TALK , texting (text “CONNECT” to 855-11), or chatting SuicidePreventionLifeline.org/chat 24 hours a day.
Stephen Ministers, who are dedicated members of Galilee Church trained to listen, are available to walk alongside anyone who reaches out for help. If you or a friend are suffering loss, anxiety, unemployment, divorce, illness…or if you’re just feeling overwhelmed…consider contacting Stephen Ministers.
Deb Harney has a background in nursing and is eager to help with mental or physical health concerns at Galilee and in the community. Pastor Jason is another resource with training in listening and in communicating spiritual wisdom and comfort. Contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org
No matter how scary or uncomfortable the situation, it’s important to talk.