Watching the world from a spiritual perspective

items of interest

Two-thirds of the membership at North Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is made up of people who are mentally ill. They are also active members of the church; some have become elders and deacons. Their example is breaking down the stereotype that says people with mental illness cannot contribute to their community.

Originally the plan was to have an activity therapy group that would help the mentally troubled. But those who came to the Togetherness Group, as it was called, began to attend the Sunday service and joined the church. Their willingness to contribute and their commitment to the church have helped other members to accept them.

"This church has always tried to be friendly to all people—but it was really a shock when these new people started joining ... especially when they would blurt out things in the service," says L. Henry Goodwyn, a member who is not mentally ill. "But, after a while, I started to look at these people in a whole new way. They're just people like us, who need love. It has changed my life to know them."

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Thrill seeking in everyday life
June 22, 1998

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