Pastor Rick and Kay Warren Hold First-Ever Gathering on Mental Health and the Church

An overflow crowd of more than 3,300 people attended The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., March 28, 2014. (PHOTO: SADDLEBACK PICS)

An overflow crowd of more than 3,300 people attended The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., March 28, 2014. (PHOTO: SADDLEBACK PICS)

Pastor Rick & Kay Warren; Bishop Kevin Vann of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange; NAMI-OC Challenge Church; Health and Psychology Professionals to Work Together on Behalf of Individuals and Families Living with Mental Illness

Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church; the Most Reverend Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County (NAMI-OC) today co-hosted The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, featuring religious, health and psychology professionals who reinforced the need to work together to address critical mental health issues.

Designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any who face the challenges of mental illness, The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church was a sold-out event, with more than 3,300 in attendance at the Saddleback Campus worship center and overflow rooms. Over 6,000 tuned in to a live webcast of the event at www.mentalhealthandthechurch.com. Additionally, the conference hashtag #Hope4MH trended on Twitter.

According to a news release from A. Larry Ross Communications (alarryross.com), This event marked the first initiative in the Warren’s mission to remove the stigma of mental illness following the death of their son, Matthew, who took his life on April 5, 2013 after a lifelong struggle with mental illness.

“To be able to call together the larger faith community is bittersweet, as we had hoped to share this moment with our son, talking about concern for people with mental illness,” Kay Warren told reporters. “We do this in honor and memory of our son and others lost to mental illness, realizing there is hope for others dealing with this condition.”

Dr. Warren noted that over 34 years as a pastor, he has struggled along with people dealing with compulsions and fears. “I’m not an authority on mental illness, but I am an authority on living with mental illness,” Warren said. “We wanted to pull back the curtain and say, ‘It’s okay. I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but that’s okay because God’s okay.’”

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SOURCE: ASSIST News
Dan Wooding