Queen Anne UMC + The Well
On Faith and Depression
By Karen Yokota and Jesse N. Love

At the heart of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Well at Queen Anne United Methodist Church welcomed the Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman to speak on the lessons learned while living with depression and what it means to be faithful to God. The Rev. Katie M. Ladd, who is a close colleague of Coleman, welcomed attendees of The Well – some from the local Queen Anne community with a few members visiting from Seattle’s U-District. This particular discussion is a part of the fall 2013 “Well-Being” series at QAUMC.

Coleman began her presentation acknowledging that October not only recognizes Mental Health Awareness, but also Domestic Violence and Breast Cancer Awareness. She believes that both have connections to depression and help broaden the discussion on overall mental health.

During her presentation, Coleman opened with a retelling of the parable of The Lost Coin. She shared how she would collect quarters to use for bus fare and laundry. When losing a coin, Coleman mused on how important something is despite its quantitative value: “It doesn’t sound like much – in fact, it’s just a quarter. But at that time – in that moment – I really needed the quarter to get to where I was going. I was searching my bag, the ground, walking around, looking under the bushes, searching for something shiny. I probably looked pretty distressed looking for this single quarter.”

Searching for a lost coin serves as a metaphor for how God needs us, despite how others view our worth or how we perceive ourselves: “God needs us, loves us, and desires to be in a relationship with us. That quarter is a part of a bigger picture. You don’t have to be phenomenal or do amazing things. God knows that there is something that we are supposed to be a part of – and God will search those cracks and find you. I love the thought of God sifting through the dirt to find us. I love this idea that God doesn’t want me to fall through the cracks – through the cracks of life.”

We are supposed to be looking through the cracks for people; it’s part of our call – to rummage through the kitchens and to turn the couch cushions. Coleman says that we are supposed to do what God would do.

“We are the ‘hands and feet of God’ and we are representing what God would do,” she says. “We are supposed to be looking for our friends: the ones who have fallen through the cracks; the ones that we haven’t heard from; the ones that haven’t gotten out of bed in a day or two. It’s our job to go searching for these people and it’s part of what we are called to do – we are to rummage through the cushions, turn the couch over and sweep the ground. It means we’ll get dirty and that it could become messy. We are looking for our friends and family members because they matter so much to us.”

To be around people who will sometimes bother and annoy you, is extremely difficult. Sharing the same space while having our own personal limitations is not easy. In her presentation, Coleman touts that being with such people is part of a bigger calling.

“We are called to be around something else, and we are called to be with people who are different from us. What is created – when we are communing with people who are not the same as us – are bonds, ties, and the love of relation.”

Coleman concluded her presentation with the message that we still need each other: “The quarter, the dime, and the nickel. We need each other so we can do what we need to do and get where we are going.”

Giovanna White is a student who heard about The Rev. Dr. Coleman’s visit to The Well via Facebook. White shares what she has learned from Coleman’s messages about mental health: “I have a friend who is depressed. I am leaving here knowing that I have to still look after that person like a lost coin. It’s so easy to have a bad attitude and say, ‘I don’t want to deal.’ But when people are going through the motions, being unintentionally difficult (sic), this is when you still have to hold on to them.”

“Having the conversation is very important in helping people to address and deal with things,” shares Gary McKee, an attendee of this night’s presentation at The Well. “I appreciate the fact that people joined in the conversations and asked questions. It helped a lot to hear other people’s views.”

Having speakers such as Dr. Coleman – discussing faith and mental health – help serve as part of a larger movement toward nurturing community. Through The Well, the Rev. Katie Ladd’s goal is to create a space to have generous conversations with substance, rooted in the Gospel. Up for discussion are issues that affect mind, body, spirit, community, and souls with the intention of creating community for all of us in seeking a common good, rather than a partisan goal.

How has your local church addressed issues of depression and mental health? If your church prepared discussions, activities, or special messages in regard to mental health, share your story and e-mail channels@pnwumc.org.

Creating Caring Congregations (D4439)

Creating Caring Congregations (D4439)
This program is designed to educate clergy and laity on how to decrease the stigma of mental illness in faith communities. Individuals share their personal experiences with depression, anxiety disorders and mental illnesses in adolescents, young adults and older adults. Carol Usher of Klamath Falls UMC (Klamath Falls, OR) said “this is a very good resource. Extremely useful. It stimulated conversation among adults.” To reserve this video now, e-mail The Regional Media Center.

Channels 67

Des Moines UMC feeds in Body, Mind and Spirit • #givingtuesdsay • WJC Stepping Out Event • Make It Happen at Assembly 2014 • Clarkston UMC and Highland Elementary School Pumpkin Patch • Dr. Monica Coleman speaks at The Well • Rethinking Our Camps in the Midst of Change • Listen, Listen, Love, Love: Working with At-Risk Youth • On the Shelf: Advent Resources • Journeys: Certified Lay Minister Training • Musings: The State of the Modern Church • Bishop: Testing our Assumptions • To subscribe to Channels, e-mail channels@pnwumc.org.

For more information on The Well and Queen Anne UMC, visit qaumc.org.

The Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman serves as an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and she is an associate professor of Religion at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University (Calif.).
In her latest book, “Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression, A 40-Day Devotional”,
she shares her personal insights in coping with depression.

Karen Yokota serves as pastor for Milton and Whitney Memorial UMCs.
Jesse N. Love serves as the print & publications manager for the PNWUMC.

This article will be featured in Channels 67, November 2013 – COMING SOON.

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