Archives For depression

Pastor’s death by suicide renews calls for help for hurting leaders
California pastor Jarrid Wilson died by suicide Sept. 9 after preaching that day at the funeral of a woman who had taken her own life. Wilson was an advocate for mental health and had encouraged the Church to care for people who are struggling. The news of his death started numerous conversations about the depression and isolation often connected to church leadership.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people,” wrote Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship where Wilson served as associate pastor. “We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not.”

Related: Depression often goes unshared in isolating vocation

Liberty students protest after Falwell aides speak out
A recent Politico story on Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. resulted in a protest attended by around 200 students Sept. 13. Around 60 of those were there to demand an investigation of the president, Religion News Service reported. Falwell’s leadership and management of the Virginia university founded by his father were called into question by the Politico article, which relied on information from several current and former staffers.

Duke rejects ministry over policy on sexuality
Young Life was denied official status as a student organization on campus at Duke University after the student senate unanimously rejected the ministry for its policy on LGBTQ volunteers and staff. “We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ,” Young Life’s policy states. “We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”

California lawmakers call on pastors to change treatment of LGBTQ people
The California Legislature passed a non-binding resolution Sept. 4 blaming religious groups and others for “disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBTQ and questioning individuals.” The resolution calls religious leaders to “counsel on LGBTQ matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy.”

Wednesday night is still a church night for most
An overwhelming majority of Protestant pastors say their churches host some type of activity on Wednesday evening, with adult small group Bible study and gatherings for youth and kids atop the list. “Church leaders frequently discuss the difficulty of getting people to participate in church activities multiple days each week,” said Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research. “Yet the vast majority of churches are still open and active on Wednesday nights.”

Sources: Christianity Today, USA Today, Illinois Baptist, Religion News Service, Christian Post, LifeWay Research

Red and green and blue

Meredith Flynn —  December 12, 2013

200371625-001For many at Christmas, ‘merry and bright’ doesn’t come easy

COMMENTARY | Meredith Flynn

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”

Charlie Brown is in a holiday funk. By the end of his half-hour special, his spirit is lifted by a spindly tree
and a retelling of the Christmas story by his friend Linus, with blue blanket in tow of course.

It’s not always that easy, or that quick. For millions struggling with the holiday blues, Christmas joy is hard to find. But there is hope, David Jeremiah wrote in a column titled “Wonderful Counselor.”

“Our Lord Jesus is the Christ of Christmas present, and He wants to deliver you from the Christmas blues, too.”

Thanksgiving at Christmas
Holidays are difficult for people for a number of reasons, Christian counselor Molly Ondrey said. Some may be overwhelmed by busyness or the financial pressure of the season. Others who have lost loved ones face a “new normal” at Christmas. Unmet expectations of what the holidays should look like can bring on the blues.

“They think back to a happier, merrier time,” said Ondrey, who works at Pathways Counseling in central Illinois. If the usual traditions of gathering around the Christmas tree or opening gifts together have changed, she added, people ask, “Now what?”

And it may not be obvious that someone is struggling.

“A lot of times, what people do is isolate when they’re depressed,” Ondrey said. They might need a
friend to reach out. A church family can help with the loneliness of the holidays by creating new
memories. Offer to be a listening ear, or to help someone put up a Christmas tree, or invite someone to
be part of your Christmas celebration, she advised.

Some churches plan a “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” service as a time to remember loved ones they’ve lost, and to focus on the hope Jesus brought into the world.

Finding a new focus is important in combating holiday depression, Ondrey said. Falling into “automatic
negative thinking” happens frequently when people are feeling down. Focusing on the blessings God has given, new memories that can be made, and the birth and hope of Christ might help improve a perspective.

I’m just stressed
Charlie Brown’s complaint – “I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel” – can result from holiday busyness too. The American Psychological Association reported in 2011 that up to 69% of people feel strapped for time and money during the holidays, and 51% feel pressure about the gifts they give and receive.

Create memories that are cost-effective, Ondrey advised. Watch a Christmas movie, go caroling, read
the Christmas story in Luke 2, go on a drive to check out holiday lights, or attend a special church service.

She also gave some practical tips for fighting off the holiday blahs. For example, eat healthy and stay active. And take charge of your schedule by saying no when needed.

Consider reaching out for extra help if holiday depression is interfering with your normal, everyday functioning at work or home, Ondrey said, if your depression occurs for an extended period of time, if you have thoughts of self-harm, or if your support system is limited.

For more information about Pathways, a ministry of Illinois Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services, call:
• (618) 624-4060 | Metro East
• (217) 483-2222 | Central Illinois
• (618) 382-3907 | Southeastern Illinois