The Federated Church of Orleans Votes to Become WISE

The Federated Church of Orleans Votes to Become WISE

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The Federated Church of Orleans has a long history of supporting those with mental health challenges. For over eighteen years, the church has offered space in their building to a local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group who meets there weekly. The church offers space for AA to meet as well, and they have financially supported “Sharing Kindness,” a local nonprofit who provides suicide prevention, mental health education, and grief support programs on the Cape & Islands. In addition, the church owns a group home, named Emmaus House, in Orleans for six adult men with mental health challenges as they transition to independent living in the community. 

The Rev. Darren Morgan was drawn to this congregation during his 2020 search process because of the church’s support of mental illness. Prior to his serving in full-time ministry, Rev. Morgan worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker in a psychiatric hospital in Maine. So when a member of the NAMI group asked the new settled pastor if he knew anything about the book, Blessed are the Crazy by Sarah Lund, Rev. Morgan produced a copy of the book from his bookshelf that had the author’s personal signature! Having met the author, Rev. Lund, at General Synod as the Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged (WISE) congregation for mental health resources was offered to the Church, he suggested that The Federated Church of Orleans might consider becoming a WISE congregation. 

The Orleans church embarked on a year-long process of study and discernment, forming a mental health ministry team who led an all-church book read on Lund’s book. Many in the congregation were unaware of the church’s involvement and financial support to mental health causes on Cape Cod, so periodic Mission Moments were offered in the Sunday worship service. Small groups met to discuss the issue of mental illness, a series of seven video “Conversations on Mental Illness,” produced by Lower Cape TV, were offered to the church, and Rev. Morgan preached on mental illness. A panel of mental health consumers and professionals provided first-hand knowledge and information about mental illness to the church. 

The church’s mental health ministry team has strengthened their relationship with Emmaus House, developing a new catch phrase “In My Back Yard” (IMBY) to counter the “Not In My Back Yard" (NIMBY) acronym associated with local residents who oppose the development of mental health group homes in their area. The team is vocal in their support of the Emmaus House residents in the Town of Orleans. 

The team developed a mental health covenant and a call-to-action plan, pledging continued support to those with mental health challenges. This covenant and plan were approved by the church’s Cabinet, and in a special meeting of the congregation on September 11, 2022, the church voted unanimously to become a Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged (WISE) congregation for mental health. 

The Federated Church of Orleans is located on 162 Main Street in Orleans. They truly welcome all to participate in the full life and ministry of their church. For more information, call 508-255-3060 or email revmorgan@fedchurchorleans.org.

About The Federated Church of Orleans

The Federated Church of Orleans is an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist Association who celebrates diversity of ethnicity, race, economic circumstance, age, sexual orientation, family, gender identity or expression, gifts and abilities – and now mental health challenges. The community of faith welcomes the full inclusion of all people into the life and ministry of the church. No matter who you are or where you are on your life’s journey, you are welcome here.  

 

Author

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Darren L. Morgan

Rev. Darren L. Morgan is Senior Pastor of The Federated Church of Orleans

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