The Companionship Movement
Rev. Craig Rennebohm, developed the model of Companionship in 1987 on the streets of Seattle as a ministry of outreach to persons who were living in homeless and struggling with serious mental health issues. Over the last 30 years through the Mental Health Chaplaincy and Pathways to Promise, Companionship has been disseminated throughout the Seattle metropolitan area, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and North Carolina.
What is Companionship?
Companionship is a ministry of presence, a relationship responding to isolation and suffering and supportive of healing and recovery. Companionship welcomes the stranger, building a circle of care with individuals who are facing emotional and mental health challenges.
Companionship is rooted in our natural capacities as human beings to be sensitive, compassionate and concerned.
Foundational Principles of Companionship
- Companionship is a basic human relationship between two equals
- Companionship is a response to suffer; it is not about “fixing it”
- Companionship is a Public Relationship
- Companionship aims for mutuality
- Companionship recognizes our need for a circle of care and support
As companions, we act on our concern for another person offering the encouragement of five basic spiritual practices.
Five Practices of Companionship
- The practice of HOSPITALITY approaches another person with respect, honoring the dignity inherent in every human being.
- Hospitality creates and peaceable space with another. Hospitality shares calm, rest and refreshment in an often tense, confusing and traumatic world.
- The practice of LISTENING opens us to another’s story, hearing the person’s own account, beginning in the now, exploring gently the past and what the future holds.
- Tips on Listening
- It is a gift simply to listen
- Listen for feelings and themesListen to yourself
- Take care with responses
- Listen over time and in community
- Listen for the words of faith, hope and love
- Be open to a person’s spiritual story
- The practice of SHARING THE JOURNEY SIDE BY SIDE positions us to look out at the world together, acknowledging our different backgrounds and viewpoints, proceeding with integrity, not pushing, pulling or imposing our priorities.
- The practice of NEIGHBORING invites us to discover what we have in common, to set aside our power and privilege, and meet one another as equals.
- In the practice of ACCOMPANIMENT, we listen especially for what the person says is their need, support the individual in connecting with community resources and help build a circle of care.
As Companions we are called to learn the ways that make for mental health and emotional wellbeing. We commit ourselves to be a home where all may grow in body, mind, heart and spirit. We welcome the neighbor who is vulnerable and isolated, sharing as we are able the journey of healing and recovery, helping to build a caring community, nation, and world.
Companionship is managed, operated and disseminated by: Pathways to Promise and Mental Health Chaplaincy