In 1988 a group of dedicated people, representing 15 faith groups and 2 mental health organizations, created Pathways to Promise “to promote caring ministry with persons who have prolonged mental illness and their families” with these goals:
- to assist groups in reaching out and serving needs of persons with mental illness and their families, welcoming them into the life of the congregation, and fostering support for them in the community;
- to provide resource materials, information, training and technical assistance at all levels to foster ministry, service, and advocacy on behalf of persons with mental illness and their families;
- to facilitate development of faith group networks of volunteers, collaborations between faith groups and with health and advocacy groups.
Since then, Pathways to Promise has provided
- thousands of publications
- hundreds of consultations
- dozens of conferences and presentations
- research and referrals
- newsletters and an outstanding web site
- technical assistance by phone, email, and web
- help with countless collaborations in ministry and service
- assistance in developing and nurturing seven faith group networks
Pathways to Promise: Milestones
-1989 “Pathways to Partnership: the Religious Communities’ Response to Mental Illness;” our first national conference, provided a forum for an exchange of ideas on models of care, education, and advocacy
-1990 “Pathways to Partnership,” the first congregational sourcebook for mental illness ministry was written and published
-1991 Assisted in forming the first faith group network of volunteers in ministry, the Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network; the networks of the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ soon followed, as did networks of other faith groups
-1993 Developed and launched the first major annotated bibliography, and database on mental illness ministry
-1993 “The Brain Matters,” a permanent educational exhibit providing information on mental illness opened at the St. Louis Science Center; the exhibit is a collaboration of Pathways, the Science Center, and Missouri Institute of Mental Health; in addition, a portable version began appearances at national meetings of faith groups and health organizations
-1994 The national opening of “The Brain Matters” in the Washington DC Methodist Building gained the attention of Tipper Gore, who arranged for Executive Director Jennifer Shifrin to address Congressional staff about mental illness
-1994-5 “Pathways to Understanding,” a multi-use seminary curriculum for ministry and mental illness was developed in collaboration with 3 St. Louis area seminaries, and began national distribution
-1995 “Mental Health Studios,” an interactive educational computer program on mental illness (a part of “The Brain Matters” display) was distributed to schools, libraries, and in other public venues
-1995-6 “Mental Health, Our Story-the Sustaining Force of Spirituality for African-Americans,” a two-part training institute for African American clergy and lay leaders included the post-conference development of specialized educational materials for use in African-American congregations
-1998 Major program development consultations included technical assistance to Centers for Mental Health (SAMHSA) for developing collaborations in Baltimore of faith groups and mental health providers
-1999 “Face to Face,” a congregational program on mental health and aging, was developed in collaboration with Jewish faith communities
-2000 The Board of Representatives in March reluctantly voted to dissolve Pathways to Promise due to the drastically reduced financial and staff support of its major members, the national faith groups. Following overwhelming expressions of gratitude for Pathways’ services, and after much consultation, the Board voted in September to move Pathways to “transitional status” in order to explore all possible avenues for continuing its services.
-2001 The Spring Newsletter announced “A New Beginning: Pathways Continues with Renewed Energy,” and promised to explore new sources of funding along with new ways to support and expand Pathways’ work. Major support came from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, which has provided office space and additional assistance, as well as collaborative programming.
In recent years, Pathways to Promise has continued through cooperative partnerships to provide technical assistance, to foster the development of mental illness ministries, to promote collaboration and networking, to develop and distribute resource materials, and to disseminate new models of ministry. Some recent highlights include:
- The first-rate Web site www.Pathways2Promise.org, recently redesigned by website Deloy Cole and Lead Consultant Jermine Alberty, this site provides the first contact and continuing assistance with mental illness ministry
- “Sunshine from Darkness”: in collaboration with the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, Pathways distributed nationwide 25,000 posters featuring art contributed by NARSAD Artworks, awareness information, and resource materials to congregations in 10 faith groups. Follow up consultations and technical assistance helped congregations in starting or expanding mental illness ministries.
- Walking Together; the Community of Faith and Mental Illness” an interactive training workshop for faith communities in educating congregations, and supporting people with mental illness, was developed and distributed in collaboration with the Auckland Anglican Church of New Zealand; a United States version was developed for use in this country.
- Acting Executive Director Bob Dell in 2007 represented the faith community at the “National Wellness Summit for People with Mental Illnesses,” a conference sponsored by the Center for Mental Health Services, on integrating primary medical and mental health care.
- Pathways contributed consultation to anti-stigma documentaries produced by Mennonite Media and Faith and Values, focusing on those about aging and suicide; Susan Gregg-Schroeder of Mental Health Ministries and her husband gave key interviews in “Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness”
- Pathways participated in the launch of Chaplain Craig Rennebohm’s book “Souls in the Hands of a Tender God” through Reading Circles and workshops in Seattle, Chicago, and St. Louis, and in continuing education workshops for clergy.
- Pathways have provided leadership for similar workshops in Phoenix and Chicago, and has participated in NAMI conferences and in the development of NAMI FaithNet.
- As more local and regional groups develop their own programs, Pathways is increasingly called on for consultation and coordination, rather than originating conferences; the 2009 National Faith Based Mental Health Summit is a notable exception promoting innovative models of ministry and collaboration: Pathways for the 21st Century.
In 2016, Pathways hired Rev. Jermine D. Alberty serves as the Lead Consultant in October 2017 he was voted by the board of directors to serve as the Executive Director. Learn more about Rev. Alberty and his vision for Pathways by clicking this link Lead Consultant Profile & Vision