In the two years since Senior Pastor Dr. Shane Stanford commissioned Congregational Care Executive Director Rev. Dr. Cynthia Davis to launch the No Whispers Initiative, the program has seen amazing growth. The initiative seeks to stand up for voiceless individuals struggling with mental illness and addiction, and Program Director Jesse Johnson and Cynthia are bringing awareness to other congregations, leaders and local police regarding crisis intervention in our city.
In response to requests, Cynthia and Jesse created the Pastor’s Resource Handbook, a one-stop guide that pastors can use in their congregations to help people struggling with mental health, addiction, homelessness, abuse or suicide find local resources they need to heal. The handbook includes a list of faith-friendly counselors and mental health providers as well as frequently asked questions caregivers ask on how to best care for their mentally ill loved ones. It also contains a description of many of the more common mental illnesses and their symptoms.
In addition, a copy of the handbook was also placed in every Memphis police precinct so officers have access to the resources. Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said it is the type of clergy partnership they are looking to develop more of in the city.
At the recent Faith and the Addicted Brain community forum at the UofM, more than 200 pastors, community leaders and police gathered to develop strategic partnerships to address the opioid crisis in the community.
“The conference was the birth of a collaborative partnership between Christ Church, the Healing Center and the state of Tennessee,” Jesse said. “Participants were seated by precinct based on their church’s location in order to build cooperation, partnership and action steps toward shared goals.”
Feedback from the conference was overwhelmingly positive with one participant saying it was “hands down the best conference I have ever attended in Memphis.”
>>Watch the keynote address from Dr. Monty Burks, director of faith-based initiatives with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse: