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January 26, 2007

Grassroots Strategy: Clergy Training

As in other metropolitan areas, thousands of residents in the Kansas City-area suffer from depression. And many seek help first from a member of the clergy, rather than a mental health specialist.

At the same time, religious leaders have indicated they need help in understanding and addressing depressive disorders affecting both their congregants and the clergy themselves.

In response to these trends, the Center for Practical Bioethics and the Mental Health Association of the Heartland are sponsoring a conference to train faith leaders to support congregants struggling with depression.

The conference is scheduled for February 12 from 8 am to 4:15 pm at the Saint Paul School of Theology at 5123 East Truman Road in Kansas City, MO.

The conference is part of   Sabbaths of Hope, a project enabling 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.

Project activities will culminate with a congregationally designated Sabbaths of Hope observance any weekend in May.

The Mental Health Association of the Heartland and the Center for Practical Bioethics are collaborators in a two year planning and implementation of Sabbaths of Hope, with funding provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

The conference opens with remarks from Kansas City Congressman and Reverend Emmanuel Cleaver II and Betsy Vander Velde, President and CEO of the Family Conservancy. A keynote address will be delivered by the Reverend Kirk Byron Jones of the Andover Newton Theological School in Boston.

Registration is limited to 150 participants. To register, click  here for the conference flier or contact the Mental Health Association of the Heartland at (913)281-2221, extension 130, or by email at

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