Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Mental Health at Fitzroy Presbyterian

mental healthI know many readers have missed Fr Martin Magill’s weekly account of his ecumenical tithing. Fr Magill had been somewhat under the weather but it is great to have him back, and writing this week about his visit to an evening service at Fitzroy Presbyterian which focused on mental health.

Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Fitzroy Presbyterian Church hosts an event in the NI Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

On the weekend following World Mental Health Day (10th October) I joined the congregation of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church for the evening service.

We were welcomed  by assistant minister, Jonathan  Abernethy-Barkley, who is also the chairperson of the committee organising this year’s NI Mental Arts and Film Festival (8-13 October 2014).   He encouraged us to check out the website, and then led us in a prayer.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Máire Hendron spoke about challenging the stigma of mental health which she pointed out is often treated as a hidden illness.  She also spoke about the work Belfast City Council was doing on “Building Emotional Resilience.”

Maire also shared about her family experience of mental illness and was at pains to encourage support for families caring for a loved one suffering in this way.  She commended all involved in the festival for raising the profile of mental illness.

Jonathan then told us about how moving he found it listening to the “recovery choir ”from Holywell at their performance on World Mental Health Day at Queen’s.

After that, Jonathan connected by Skype with the author Tony Macaulay who told us about his background including his work in peace building.  He spoke about mental illness in his family and told us about his work with the Suicide Prevention charity Lighthouse and the involvement of a number of denominations in a programme called “Flourish”.

Jonathan then introduced two young women who were both called Helen who spoke about an initiative with young people called SPUD – Speaking, Participating, Understanding and Deciding.  They shared about the experience of the General Assembly and more recently about an event called Breaking the Silence.

Jonathan introduced a student called Mogue Lawless who recently had been acknowledged by David Cameron for his work in dealing with mental illness.  Mogue shared some of his own experience of mental illness and how this had led him to set up a project called:  “Start talking”.

The formal part of the evening ended with some verses of scripture including John 10:10 – Jesus said: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” The minister Rev Steve Stockman finished with prayer including prayer for those suffering with a mental illness and for their families.

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