The Briefing: Mental illness and the church, helping persecuted Christians, Lecrae jams with The Roots

Meredith Flynn —  September 23, 2014

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Nearly two-thirds of Protestant senior pastors rarely or never speak to their congregations about mental illness, according to an extensive new study by LifeWay Research. But the majority of people who have a family member suffering from mental illness, or who are suffering themselves, want their church to talk openly about the topic so it won’t be so taboo.

“Our research found people who suffer from mental illness often turn to pastors for help,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But pastors need more guidance and preparation for dealing with mental health crises. They often don’t have a plan to help individuals or families affected by mental illness, and miss opportunities to be the church.”

According to the study, 68% of pastors said the church maintains a list of mental health resources for members, but only 28% of families said they were aware of those resources in the church.

The “Study of Acute Mental Illness and Christian Faith” also surveyed pastors about their own struggles with mental illness. Of those surveyed, 23% said they had experienced some kind of mental illness themselves, and 12% have received a diagnosis for a mental health condition, according to a report by LifeWay’s Bob Smietana.

Religious groups ask SCOTUS to settle marriage issue
The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission joined several other religious groups earlier this month in asking the Supreme Court to settle the same-sex marriage issue. “Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions,” the friend-of-the-court brief stated in part.

To help answer some of those questions for Illinois pastors and church leaders, the Illinois Baptist State Association will host the “Elevate Marriage” conference October 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the IBSA Building in Springfield. Featured speakers include Kevin Smith, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Andrew Walker, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Jill Finley, Bethel Baptist Church, Troy, Ill. Lunch is included, and registration is required; go to http://www.IBSA.org/Marriage.

Winter coming soon for religious minorities in Iraq
As cold weather draws nearer in northern Iraq, the situation for refugees fleeing ISIS grows more desperate, reports Baptist Global Response. “Shelter is lacking or inadequate,” said Abraham Shepherd, who directs work in the Middle East for BGR. “People are living in their cars, under doorsteps, in the open fields—with mainly tarps covering them. People know winter will come quickly on them, and they need to be ready—if ever you can be ready in those conditions.” Click here for more on how BGR is assisting refugees in the Middle East.

Abedini to pray for husband outside White House
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of a pastor imprisoned in Iran, will pray outside the White House this week as part of a multi-site prayer vigil for her husband and other persecuted Christians. Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, was arrested in Iran in 2012. This week marks the second anniversary of his imprisonment.

Rapper Lecrae thankful for ‘voice into culture’
Christian rapper Lecrae appeared on “The Tonight Show” Sept. 18, sitting in with house band The Roots and rapping bits from his new (and Billboard #1) album between segments. “It’s a lot to take in,” he posted on his social media pages after the show. “I am so grateful for the support. I know I represent something much bigger than me. Thank you! I thank God for a voice into culture. I pray I use it wisely.” Read more at ChristianityToday.com.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.