Raising awareness, decreasing stigma . . . Journeying alongside one another
“Where is the love? It’s in the church! Where is the church? It’s in you!” exclaims the Rev. Walter Lanier as he talks about the passion that motivates he and his congregation, Progressive Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are responding to the deep and urgent needs of people in their neighborhoods.
As Rev. Lanier continues, he says that “people are crying out with this question—“Where is the Love?”—and we are compelled and empowered to respond to those seeking and longing for love and the need for a safe, consistent and caring place in this world. Church can be a caring presence with open doors and open arms to heal and restore with love.”
One significant caring presence that Rev. Walter Lanier and Progressive Baptist Church are creating is “MIRACLE.” This ministry is focused around the acronym of “MIRACLE:” Mental-Illness-Raising-Awareness of-Church-Leaders-Everywhere. This growing ministry has four priorities.
The first priority is ministry within the church. This includes training opportunities for lay people to raise awareness of mental health stigma and also suicide prevention, resources for worship and education, and also support groups for those living with mental illness and their loved ones. The goal in this caring support is not to solve problems, but to care and to walk with, alongside, of people who are living with mental illness.
The second priority is sharing resources with other congregations so that they could do something similar in their neighborhoods. Rev. Lanier and his leaders have shared their ministry with ten to fifteen churches that are participating in some way in this MIRACLE. A monthly meeting for all the participating congregations empowers continued learning and information sharing about the emerging ministries.
The third priority is building relationships in the community with individuals and organizations who have mental health resources and skills to share. Currently five to ten different organizations are involved in this aspect of the mission.
The fourth and final priority of MIRACLE is empowering advocacy. Through the caring presence, there is at times the need to be advocates for people with mental illness. This ministry seeks to empower caring advocates to speak with and for those with mental illness–whose voice is often not heard and sometimes even silenced.
“Where is the love?” The love is a MIRACLE happening now in Milwaukee and beyond!
Article by Marty Carney
Marty stumbles along the way of Jesus and responds to the Spirit’s call as an evolving human seeking peace and justice in a corner of God’s world… lately, he acts as an artist, graphic designer, pastor of a small community of faith, and a caring listener and seeker of good in the neighborhood…
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