Petition 80646

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Mental Illness Ministry (80646-CO-¶600)

New Paragraph inserted after current ¶652:
There may be in each annual conference a conference committee on Mental Illness Ministry or other structure to provide for the functions of this ministry and maintain the connectional relationships.    
  The basic membership of the committee shall be nominated and elected by established procedures of the respective annual conference.  Each annual conference shall determine the number and composition of the total membership.  Membership shall include consumers with a mental illness diagnosis, mental health professionals such as a nurse, doctor, social worker, case manager, or a parish nurse.  The committee shall also include family members of persons who have a mental illness.    
        2.  Because of the stigma related to this “no-fault” illness and the invisibility of it in the life of the Church and society as a whole, this committee shall be responsible for making an annual report to the Conference about the progress and effectiveness of efforts to encourage participation of persons with mental illnesses and their families in the life of the Church-at-large and shall also advise the annual conference of ways to diminish any stigma that may still exist in the life of the church and educate its members on how to overcome it.
  3.  It shall be the responsibility of this committee to:  
  (a) Be aware of persons with mental illnesses within the local church and within the total life of the annual conference.   
  (b) Be informed about current ministries within the annual conference that focus their efforts on supporting persons with a mental illness.              
(c)Be a resource for local churches that are attempting to develop new ministries and to be aware of program models elsewhere which can give congregations ideas for developing new ministries.
(d) Encourage every local church to complete the educational program for becoming Caring Congregations for persons with a mental illness and their families through the General Board of Church and Society.  
(e) Provide training in mental illness ministry to recent seminary graduates and other pastors and to make clergy aware of the many places where they can obtain training such as online seminars.  
(f) Encourage every local church to observe  Mental Illness Awareness Week, Mental Health Month, and support those ministries that educate and promote mental illness ministry and what congregations can do.  
(g) Develop ways to sensitize persons in leadership positions on issues that affect persons with a mental illness and therefore the entire Church.
(h) Promote full inclusion of persons with a mental illness into the total life of the local church and the annual conference.  
(i) Have knowledge of theology and biblical studies as these relate to persons with a mental illness.  
(j) Become familiar with Pathways to Promise – Ministry and Serious Mental Illness Interfaith Coalition in St. Louis, MO. and its ecumenical resources available for congregational mental illness ministries.  
(k) Become aware of media ministry low-cost and free resources such as Mental Health Ministries for developing Caring Congregations as is recommended by the General Board of Church and Society.  
(l) Become active members of the United Methodist Mental Illness Ministry Network through the General Board of Church and Society.  
(m) Be a resource liaison between the General Board of Global Ministries Health and Welfare Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Mental Illness Ministries Network  
(n) Be a resource to the annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry for educational resources about clergy effectiveness in the face of mental illness.
  4.  This committee shall advocate for an Annual Conference Director or Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries, whether clergy or lay, active or retired, to develop programs that meet the needs of people with a mental illness within the annual conference and the local churches. Directors of Mental Health Ministries are paid positions of at least 1/4 time. Coordinators are volunteer positions. The ideal Director or Coordinator has some experience in working with persons who have a mental illness.  
(a) Their task is to enable all congregations to become fully inclusive communities of faith: to live, work, worship, and pray alongside people with a mental illness diagnosis while supporting their families as well. They should be aware of, and advocate for the role of persons with mental illness in ministry, including ordained and diaconal ministries and local church and annual conference leadership positions. They should be given a reasonable budget or in-kind support for the accomplishing of their work, or reimbursed at a rate in keeping with other persons in the annual conference in equivalent positions.  The Director or Coordinator may use volunteers to carry out their educational responsibilities within the Annual Conference.  Volunteers can be trained to speak to Church groups educating them and broadening their knowledge of Mental Illness Ministries.  
  (b) The Director or Coordinator of Mental Illness Ministries may provide resources to the annual conference for congregations and leaders at all levels of leadership to assist them in their work with persons who have a mental illness.