Education Beyond the Walls (EBW) has been awarded three $5,000 Innovating Forward seed grants to initiate projects at the intersection of faith and mental health. The grants are provided through the Spiritual Mind Body Institute at Columbia University Teachers College with generous funding from The John Templeton Foundation. The three projects are Responding to Black and African American Women in Ministry, Connecting for Clergy Well-Being, and Tools for Trauma: Responding to Immigrant and Asylum-seeking Latinas.
- Responding to Black and African American Women in Ministry: Black and African American women pastors and clergy often face challenges and biases in a male-dominated role. Many work full time in other jobs and, especially following the pandemic, strain under the burden of the emotional, mental, and physical needs of their communities. We will bring together twelve Black and African American women clergy and leaders in an overnight spirit-led retreat to introduce practices of restoration, gratitude, and forgiveness. Participants will continue in a series of eight online sessions as a community of support and accountability for habituating the practices. This project is led by Melissa Wiginton, vice president of Education Beyond the Walls, and Pamela Benson Owens in collaboration with Minister Sheila Hosey of She Speaks Wellness and Kay Hutchinson of Aiki Healing.
- Connecting for Clergy Well-Being: Clergy are often the first point of contact for individuals and families experiencing mental health crises, yet they, themselves, experience significant mental and physical health problems. As a collaborative group of individuals and institutions who foster, train, and support clergy throughout the lifespan of ministry, EBW wants to enhance our collective efforts to help clergy survive and thrive in ministry. We will form a learning community for mutual sharing of our wisdom/experience and to consider the latest research and evidence-based practices in clergy well-being. We will also put into practice what we learn through a retreat or other intervention targeted to clergy. This project is led by Professor Phil Helsel and Erica Knisely, director of educational design, in collaboration with the Ecumenical Center of San Antonio.
- Tools for Trauma: Responding to Immigrant and Asylum-seeking Latinas: Immigrants and asylum seekers, many coming from Latin America, make one of the most impactful and difficult decisions of their lives: to leave the place where they grew up in search of safety. During the journey, they frequently endure multiple physical, psychological, and emotional traumas that go untreated after they enter the United States. This leaves them alone and vulnerable to additional abuse. In this project, we are collaborating to provide a set of trauma-informed resources to Latino/a immigrants that will be accessible online. We want to take it one step further, by training and empowering immigrants to share the knowledge, skills, and practices they gain in trauma-informed care with others. This project is led by Mónica Tornoe, director of Latino/a programs, and Dianne Garcia in collaboration with La Casa de Maria y Marta in San Antonio.