Bishops Ian T. Douglas and Laura J. Ahrens are two of the 25 church leaders from New England who signed a letter calling for communal lament and sharing of mental health support for clergy. This letter titled "Lament and Live Together: A Letter to the Church in New England," is a response to the increase of distress and despair amongst clergy persons and church leaders, particularly in a difficult year for many.
"We write to you in hard days, after hard months, in a hard year, heading into a contentious election, with the potential for increasing conflict, infections, and winter. We write to you with deep concern for the well-being of the faithful and the wider communities we love and serve. As pandemics of COVID, white supremacy, and persistent inequality ravage and despair sets in, we hear the cry of the Psalmist across every generation. We are weary with crying, and we know you are, too.
We write to you with a call to lament and live together.
Our pain increases as national leaders have failed to acknowledge the depth of collective suffering from both the historic deaths from COVID19, and among Black people and communities of color from racist violence. Pain unseen, unacknowledged, and unaddressed festers. And so, we seek to name before God our honest complaint."
This letter includes three calls of lamentation, expressing that lament is faithful, relational, and transformative. Also included for the Beloved Church are four resources and action items for the whole of the Body of Christ: deliberate resetting of expectations in local churches, rebuking of perfectionism and permission to rest, intentions, communal call to lament, and sharing of mental health resources and commitment to speak publicly about mental health. Following those, the letter includes a list of local resources for mental health services and support. For Connecticut, you can find a list of crises services here.
Anyone, anywhere, anytime can call the national disaster distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.