The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of New Martinsville hopes to have a good turnout for two receptions for the public this week. On Thursday from 6-7 p.m. and Friday from noon-1 p.m. they will host the events to introduce people to their new program of small support groups in various areas of mental health.
The free meetings will be held at the Disciples Center for Human Wholeness, 515 Maple Ave., adjacent to and south of the church at the corner of Locust Street and Maple Avenue. Group meetings will be scheduled later in April at times to be determined. Attending a reception or at least calling the church at 304-455-4460 can help influence when it would be most convenient for groups to gather.
While the groups are not therapeutic, they will focus on support for individuals, care givers, and families dealing with Alzheimer's, senile dementia, depression, anxiety, and other related health issues.
This team of experienced individual is ready to facilitate support groups at the First Christian Church in New Martinsville. From left: Tammy Wilson, Rev. Dr. Vic Hunter, Kyleen Jiannine, and Deb DeLancey. (Photo by Amy Witschey
The program will be supervised by the Rev. Dr. Vic Hunter, senior pastor at First Christian Church and local pastoral counselor, who specialized in the relationship of religion and psychiatry at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He is the co-author of "What Your Doctor and Pastor Want You To Know About Depression" and "Living Free In An Anxious World: with his brother, a medical doctor, R. Lanny Hunter. Rev. Hunter will be assisted in the program by a number of persons who work and study mental health issues and social work.
Hunter says he was called out of retirement to pastor this church in New Martinsville and help develop the adjacent property to serve the community, particularly through social programs in areas such as health, mental health, and youth.
"The need for mental health support is really great-here and across West Virginia," noted Hunter.
He said not only is there a need for such services here, but it is a natural way for this particular congregation to serve the community. "We've been gifted as a congregation with people who are gifted," said Hunter, particularly speaking in the areas of social work and mental health.
While there will be trained people leading the groups, Hunter points out that the fact that they are not "professional treatment" settings is significant, even preferable.
He explains, "In our culture so many things get turned over to professionals. We've lost some of the wisdom that is in the whole community." He cited how in the past people went to a wise old elder for advice and counsel.
Three Support Groups will begin later in April with dates and times set and with information available from the church office at 304-455-4460. Each of the small groups will be participatory and will be for purposes of mutual support and encouragement, education and insight, and a chance to learn from each others' own experiences. "All of us are smarter than any of us," noted Hunter.
"We're here to help each other," said Kyleen Jiannine, one of the lay leaders who has a background in social work. "All of us have walked the walk. Love is what it's about. I have a passion for the strength of a group to help an individual.")