Pathways to Promise

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Leadership Forum Webinars

Transforming Faith Landscapes with WISE
How a Journey into Mental Health Justice
Brings Communities to Wholeness and Life 
This workshop will dive into the exciting work by UCC’s Mental Health Network’s WISE entity. An acronym for Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged around issues of mental health, WISE offers faith communities an organized structure to explore their own strategies for reaching out and embracing families and individuals in their congregation and surrounding community that struggle with mental health challenges. This program has become so compelling that churches outside of UCC have achieved the certification as well as synagogues and now, campus ministries. Dr. Harvey will talk about the key components that give WISE its organic nature within a community and how anyone in any group can utilize its principles. Finally, the act of stepping out of the pew, getting where it’s gritty and unknown, and where Christ needs us most will be discussed as the thing that saves us, saves the church and grants intimacy with the Eternal One.

Register Here


Dr. Vicki K. Harvey

Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Vicki K. Harvey is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Orange County, California. She is also a Board Member of UCC’s Mental Health Network for three years and works specifically with coming alongside churches who seek to obtain the WISE designation for their congregation. She is married and currently is a foster mother to two brothers, 14 years and 8 years, with plans to adopt them in the coming year. A chiweenie, a cat, five koi, and two cockatiels round out the boisterous family.

Grief and the Holiday Season
Dealing with grief during the holidays can be hard as individuals navigate gatherings and changes to holiday traditions. Many people who are grieving find that this time of year can be particularly challenging.
Join us for an insightful presentation and discussion about how to manage grief during the holiday season with Deacon Ed Shoener. Dec. Shoener will discuss the books he co-authors of the books Responding to Suicide: A Pastoral Handbook for Catholic Leaders and When a Loved One Dies by Suicide (Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN) and also discuss the grief support group he offers at the Cathedral of St. Peter parish in Scranton. 

Deacon Ed Schoener

Permanent Deacon, Diocese of Scranton

Ed Shoener was ordained a permanent deacon in 2004 and serves at St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Diocese of Scranton. Shoener is a founding member of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers and the Catholic Institute of Mental Health Ministry at the University of San Diego. He serves on the Council on Mental Illness of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability and on the Board of Pathways to Promise, an interfaith cooperative that facilitates the faith community’s work in reaching out to those with mental illnesses and their families. Deacon Shoener, along with Bishop John Dolan, is co-author of the books Responding to Suicide: A Pastoral Handbook for Catholic Leaders and When a Loved One Dies by Suicide (Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN).
He, along with family and friends, founded “The Katie Foundation” after his daughter, Kathleen, died by suicide in 2016. Katie’s obituary went viral because it spoke to the needs and concerns of people who live with mental illness. He lives with his family in Scranton, Pennsylvania
& Western Psychiatry
Dr. Peteet will discuss the content of the book he has helped to edit, Christianity and Psychiatry, which will be available in October. The book will be a valuable resource for mental health professionals seeking to understand and address the particular challenges when caring for Christian patients. It aims to help readers appreciate the many-faceted relationship between Christianity and the practice of psychiatry. The authors consider challenges posed by historical antagonisms, church-based mental health stigma, and controversy over phenomena such as hearing voices. They explore how Christians experience mental disorders and how their faith can serve as a resource for healing and its relationship to the 12-step program, disabilities, and death and dying.

Dr. John R. Peteet

Staff Psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

After receiving his M.D. degree at Columbia and completing a medical internship at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. John Peteet trained in psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. Dr. Peteet’s major areas of interest are psychosocial oncology, addiction, and the clinical interface between spirituality/religion and psychiatry.


The Sacredness of Trauma:

Trauma-Responsive Faith

    The Sacredness of Trauma develops trauma-responsive congregations through the lens of their scripture. We help faith communities “level the playing field” and prepare to have conversations about traumatic experiences.
We begin with the recognition of trauma as an integral part of our faith history. We help participants develop knowledge and basic skill about trauma and trauma-responsive practices in faith communities that are based on the stories of their faith. Our programs are interactive, Zoom-based events.


Elizabeth Power, M.Ed

Adjunct Instructor in Psychiatry at

Georgetown University Medica Center

Elizabeth Power, M.Ed., of Nashville, TN in the United States doesn’t play country music, but she sure does make peoples’ lives sing! Barrier-busting, change-making, life-transforming? That’s her work. Power helps folks access and harness their genius through deep work in three areas: change, resilience/self-care, and trauma-responsive processes. She’s an Adjunct Instructor in Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medica Center, teaching Trauma-Informed Medical Care.

To learn more about Elizabeth visit

Leadership Webinar


HELD: Showing Up for Each Other’s Mental Health

Community minister and mental health advocate Barbara F. Meyers illustrate how members of liberal religious congregations can be supportive to those living with mental health problems, and their loved ones, in our congregations and society at large.
Meyers addresses the fundamental elements of spiritual support truth, hope, presence, acceptance, encouragement, authenticity, public witness, pastoral care, and safe places with stories from real-life situations and suggestions for how parishioners can provide and advocate for support in their congregations. A study guide for congregations and a list of resources for more information round out this thoughtful and necessary resource.


Rev. Barbara F. Meyers

Mental Health Community Minister

Rev. Barbara F. Meyers is a Unitarian Universalist community minister with a mental health ministry based in Fremont, California. She is assistant director of the Life Reaching Across to Life peer support center, the author of a mental health curriculum for congregations, and the book “Held – Showing Up for each Other’s Mental Health” published by Skinner House Books in July 2020. She is the President of the UU Mental Health Network.

Leadership Webinar


Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness and Marriage

Mental illness impacts at least a quarter of all blessed unions. In this new book by the author of Blessed Are the Crazy, Sarah Griffith Lund opens up about depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in her own marriage and shares stories of other couples who have been impacted by mental illnesses such as addiction, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, schizophrenia, suicidality, and more.
Using traditional marriage vows as a framework for the book, Blessed Union explores the challenges of loving in the midst of mental health challenges, why it happens, what we can do about it, and how our faith is connected to mental illness. This book reminds us that we are not alone and invites us to break the silence around marriage and mental illness. The book includes a guided journal section, with a dozen blank pages and prompts for deeper reflection.


Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund, MSW, MDiv, DMin

Sarah Griffith Lund is passionate about loving her family, God, and being part of faith communities. She is an ordained minister and has served as pastor to churches in Brooklyn, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and New Smyrna Beach, FL. Rev. Dr. Lund served as Regional Minister in the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ and as a Vice President for Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN. She holds degrees from Trinity University (BA), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), Rutgers University (MSW), and McCormick Theological Seminary (DMin).
Rev. Dr. Lund received the Dell Award for Mental Health Education at the 30th General Synod of the UCC. She currently serves as Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice on the national staff of the UCC and as senior pastor of First Congregational UCC of Indianapolis, IN.
 Sarah is the author of Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church (Chalice Press, 2014) and Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness and Marriage (Chalice Press, 2021).


Creating Whole Communities:

A Charity to Liberation Model for Faith Communities

Faith communities seeking to improve health, well-being, and equity in persons diagnosed with a mental health disorder must adopt a whole community approach in order to be successful. By improving the vital conditions that persons live in mental health disorders can be prevented and persons experiencing mental health can thrive. This presentation will go over what vital conditions are and how faith communities can impact them. It will also go over the charity to liberation model that supports this approach.

Presenter: Jennie Birkholz

Principal Owner

Breakwater Light

Healing & Innovation

Jennie Birkholz is the Principle with Breakwater Light, a consulting firm that partners with multi-sector organizations and communities focused on positive social impact. Projects are oriented around community asset mapping, innovative leveraging of those assets, and creating powerful networks for change. She has provided trauma trainings and consultations to churches, hospice networks, early childhood coalitions, schools, and community-wide coalitions.

As a person with lived experience and someone who worked with persons who experienced trauma, Jennie brings a hands-on perspective to the work. Jennie served in the behavioral health field for over 15 years, supporting substance abuse, mental health, disaster relief, and other community services at the executive level. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas A&M University and a Masters of Healthcare Administration from Texas State University. Jennie is a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer, and a SAMHSA Trauma-Informed Care trainer. She is also the creator and leader of the Texas Faith Health Network. For more information see:

Leadership Forum Webinar


Be nice. Faith

Our be nice. staff trains liaisons from faith communities to use create a movement for mental health throughout their congregation.
The be nice. Action Plan is a tool for the larger community to increase positive understanding of mental health, as well as a tool in one-on-one conversations. For some, faith is the number one protective factor in mental health – make sure that your faith community is prepared with the tools to begin these conversations about mental health, and empower members with resources, hope, and understanding.

Our Presenter

Christy Buck

Executive Director, Founder of be nice.

Christy Buck is the Executive Director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. With more than 33 years of experience in the mental health field, Buck’s passion for transforming and saving lives through mental health education led her to develop two classroom programs, ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ for middle and high school students, and ‘be nice.’ Since 2006, she and her staff have passionately presented to over 200,000 people in West Michigan on mental health awareness, bullying and suicide prevention. Buck regularly delivers speaking engagements to community and business groups on mental health awareness. She is certified in Question Persuade and Refer and Mental Health First Aid, which she has been recognized as one of the top 100 in the country.
Christy serves on the Grandville School Board and is involved with numerous community organizations and coalitions. Most recent honors include 2017 American Red Cross Hometown, 2017 Athena Finalist, 2017 Art Van Charity of Hope Award, 2018 50 Most Influential Women In West Michigan, 2019 Daughters of the American Revolution Women In History and most recently finalist for Brilliance Award Woman of the Year.
Christy enjoys spending time with her family – hubby Tim, and kids – Demetrios, Katerina, Isabella and granddog, Riggins and the community of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church! She is a proud graduate of Michigan State University.

Special Edition Webinar:

Topic: Creating a Rule of Life

Authors Robin Sandbothe and Ircel Harrison who authored Creating a Rule of Life:  A Transforming Church Resource with Pinnacle Press for a discussion about their book. Provided participants an overview of how to create a rule of life. 

A rule of life provides a framework or pattern for a group of believers to walk alongside and encourage each other and pursue those practices that lead to spiritual health and faithful service.

Our Presenters: Ircel Harrison & Rev. Robin Sandbothe

Ircel Harrison is the Coaching Coordinator for Pinnacle Leadership Associates and supplemental associate professor in Missional Theology at Central Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas.   He is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation and author of several books and articles related to coaching and church development. He can be contacted at
Rev. Robin R. Sandbothe is the Director of Seminary Relations at Central Baptist Theological Seminary where she has served for the last 22 years. Ordained as a Baptist minister, Sandbothe is also currently the co-pastor for Englewood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. She has a particular interest in the discipline of spiritual formation. Sandbothe has recently joined the team of Pinnacle Leadership Associates. She can be contacted at

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Topic: Suicide: Prevention, Attempts & Recovery

Talking about suicide can be difficult, but not talking about it can be deadly.

This webinar will:

  1. Identify language which invites authentic discussion about suicide prevention, attempts and recovery.
  2. Recognize vulnerability to suicide.
  3. Be proactive and responsive to self and others.
  4. Acquire and share resources for prevention and recovery.

Our Presenter: AJ French

AJ French is the President & CEO for Gift of Voice, a mental health and trauma recovery training center operated by people in recovery. She also serves the Illinois Mental Health Planning & Advisory Council (IMHPAC) and the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illnesses (PAIMI). IMHPAC & PAIMI are both federally mandated councils. French is considered a subject matter expert in mental health recovery, having participated in a White House briefing on suicide prevention and an interfaith discussion with the U.S. Surgeon General. With a heartbeat for policy and advocacy, her recent work includes systemically addressing suicide prevention during COVID-19. She authored a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and obtained organizational signatures, strongly urging the FCC to provide free phone minutes and broadband connections so persons experiencing poverty could maintain a connection.  French is often sought out to deliver hope at national conferences, theological seminaries, and for individuals who are incarcerated. Last year, she presented “How to Stay Well While You’re Loved One’s in a Cell” for the InterNational Prisoners Family Conference. She periodically writes mental health commentaries for various newspapers and magazine publications. 

AJ lives in Madison County, IL, and is a member of The Bridge Free Methodist Church.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Topic: 4 Ways Your Community Can Live Grace Vigorously

Webinar Speaker: Brad Bloom, Founder and Publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine and Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine.

Webinar Description

To bring greater mental wellness support to those in your community you must empower members of your church or organization to literally be active and abundantly imbue life with grace.

  1. Start and grow a fitness ministry.
  2. Venture and become immersed in the depth of communion.
  3. Facilitate and elevate rest.
  4. Discover and celebrate beauty.

Our Presenter: Brad Bloom

Brad Bloom is the founder and publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine and Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine. He is president of Lifestyle Media Group, a ministry that develops content to help people to live life physically and spiritually fit.

He has done family ministry from an early age. He has produced documentary films, educational videos, and print and media content throughout the U.S. and the world.

His work in both media and the Christian faith is steeped in a deep calling to bring greater strength to people. He says, “Communication is about offering a compelling and persuasive perspective. Faith is meant to be passionate. God is the defining difference. We must be life to others.”

Brad, his wife, and his family live life vigorously in coastal Virginia.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Including Families of Kids With Common Mental Health at Church

Key Ministry

Since 2002, we’ve provided knowledge, innovation, and experience to the worldwide church as it ministers to and with families of kids with disabilities. While expanding our service to churches, we find ourselves called to a new phase of ministry in which we seek to help families impacted by disability to become connected with local churches where parents and children can worship and grow in faith alongside other Christ-followers.

Our ministry was founded to help churches minister to families of children with hidden disabilities. We find ourselves uniquely called and positioned to serve churches seeking to become more intentional and effective in ministry with children, teens and adults impacted by mental illness, trauma, and developmental disabilities and their families.

Our Presenter: Dr. Stephen Grcevich 

Dr. Stephen Grcevich (MD, Northeast Ohio Medical University) serves as the President and Founder of Key Ministry. He serves as the primary vision caster and spokesperson for the ministry and plays an important role in Key’s efforts to develop collaborations both within and outside the disability ministry movement with church leaders, other like-minded organizations, and the professional community.

Dr. Grcevich is a regular contributor for Moody Radio Cleveland and the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention) and is frequently invited to speak at national and international ministry conferences on mental health and other disability ministry-related topics.

His first book, Mental Health, and the Church was published by Zondervan in February 2018. In addition to his ministry work, Dr. Grcevich is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who combines nearly thirty years of knowledge gained through clinical practice and teaching with extensive research experience evaluating medications prescribed to children and teens for ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

He serves on the faculty of Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, has been a presenter at over 35 national and international medical conferences, and is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Congregational Emotional Health + Spirituality

Our guest speaker is Laverne Williams of PEWS (Promoting Emotional Wellness and Spirituality) Program based in New Jersey! She discusses congregational emotional health and spirituality.

Our Presenter:

Laverne Williams, CSW is the Director of the P.E.W.S. (Promoting Emotional Wellness and Spirituality) Program for the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. Ms. Williams is a certified Social Worker, WRAP (Wellness & Recovery Action Plan) Facilitator, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, “Buried in Treasures” Workshop Facilitator and the owner/operator of Laverne Williams Enterprise, LLC a consulting firm which provides individually designed health and wellness workshops.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Mental Health Education and Reducing Stigma

Educating clergy and congregations on mental health topics is an important part of reducing stigma and supporting communities. Rev. Kathy Dale McNair shares her experiences about developing a Mental Health Task Force, interfaith networking, and creating space and accessing tools to educate and support mental health in the faith community.

Our Presenter: Rev. Kathy Dale

An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Kathy Dale McNair specializes in mental health ministry. She is certified by the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) as a peer support specialist and is the FaithNet coordinator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for the Cook County North Suburban affiliate.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

The Companionship Movement

This webinar will explore the mission of Companions to act on our concern for another person offering the encouragement of five basic spiritual practices: hospitality, neighboring, journeying side-by-side, listening, and accompaniment. You will also learn about the opportunity to become a trainer of Companionship in your community!


Our Presenter: Rev. Jermine D. Alberty

Rev. Jermine Alberty, Pathways to Promise Executive Director. He brings a rich variety and depth of experience to his work with Pathways. He has worked over 20 years in nonprofit, faith communities, mental health and government serving in the roles as a community organizer working with different faith traditions, training director for a community mental health center, neighborhood planning assessments and staff development work.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Diversity and Inclusion in Faith Communities

Is there a need to consider diversity and inclusion strategies in the faith community?  Diversity and inclusion has increasingly become a focal point for businesses, educational institutions and service organizations.

During this webinar we discuss the following:

  •  Issues of cultural diversity in the context of faith communities.
  • A few basic concepts of cultural diversity, explicit/implicit bias, and microaggression.
  • These concepts were examined from an individual, group and community perspective.

Our Presenter: Rev. Deborah J. Burris

Rev. Deborah J. Burris earned her Master Divinity from Eden Seminary and is the Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She brings to her position over 30 years of higher education experience working in student development, human resources and equal opportunity/diversity administration. Advancing opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups has been at the core of her career.

She currently serves as co-chair of the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council. Ms. Burris earned a Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri Columbia and an undergraduate degree from St. Louis University in Organizational Development.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Sabbaths of Hope 

Sabbaths of Hope is a mental health literacy initiative that enables clergy and other faith leaders to recognize types and symptoms of depression, provide referral and linkage to treatment options, and offer more effective support to congregants suffering from depression and other mental health challenges.

Participants who attended this webinar received training and resources to enable them to conduct educational events for congregants and how to integrate mental health awareness in sermons, sacred text, and other liturgical elements in both a Christian and Jewish context.

Our Presenters: Leslie Levin & Rev. Jermine Alberty

Leslie Levin is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and served as the founder and President/CEO of Behavioral Health Response, the Eastern Region of Missouri Crisis System from 1995-2012. She is the President of AccredAssist.  Lesley received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and her MSSA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She has worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse for over 45 years.
Rev. Jermine Alberty, Pathways to Promise Executive Director. He brings a rich variety and depth of experience to his work with Pathways. He has worked over 25 years in nonprofit, faith communities, mental health and government serving in the roles as a community organizer working with different faith traditions, training director for a community mental health center, neighborhood planning assessments and staff development work.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

Faith.Hope.Life: A Suicide Prevention Tool for Fatih Communities

Faith communities of all traditions have an important part to play in fostering mental health and helping prevent suicide. Faith leaders are on the “front lines” –the first people many turn to in times of emotional or spiritual crises. Moreover, our congregations offer the faith and hope needed to get through the most difficult of times. The webinar will introduce an exciting initiative entitled Faith.Hope.

Learning Objectives/Goals:
•Familiarize participants with the components of the Faith.Hope.Life Initiative
•Describe the resources on the Faith.Hope.Life website as a go to resource for the broader topic of Suicide Prevention and faith communities
•Discuss the ways that faith leaders and congregations can integrate resources to create action plans.

To access the resources discussed in webinar from Faith. Hope. Life initiative please click this link resources.

Our Presenter: Dr. David Litts

A retired Air Force colonel, Dr. David Litts has embarked on a second career mission: to promote suicide prevention, a cause he championed during the last 10 years of his military career.

Litts provides expert consultation in public health approaches to suicide prevention, as well as, efforts to transform clinical systems to provide high quality suicide care. He is also recognized as an expert in public communications in support of suicide prevention and reductions to prejudice and discrimination that prevent many people from seeking and receiving effective mental health treatment.

Leadership Forum Webinar:

The 3 Ms: Meditation, Mediation, and Medication.

Providing mental & spiritual wellness to those who serve in communities of faith.

In this webinar, the role that active support from faith leaders and communities and the principles that can enhance an individual’s wellness and recovery of both mind and soul will be discussed. Participants will learn holistic approaches to successfully ministering to the needs of individuals with mental illness, how to recognize the impact stigmatizing language can have on all individuals and how to recognize and eliminate it from sacred places.The second half hour will be devoted to sharing and networking about what you are doing related to mental health awareness and organizing in faith communities in your area.

Our Presenter: Rev. Jermine Alberty 

Rev. Jermine Alberty, Pathways to Promise Executive Director. He brings a rich variety and depth of experience to his work with Pathways. He has worked over 20 years in nonprofit, faith communities, mental health and government serving in the roles as a community organizer working with different faith traditions, training director for a community mental health center, neighborhood planning assessments and staff development work.