Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life


Evangelical Christianity

Evangelical crisis hotline finds new future with Catholic diocese

Published by National Catholic Reporter, June 6-19 issue

IMG_5820For her three-hour volunteer training session, Louise Dunn does not have any props. She only turns to illustrate a concept on the white board once. And yet she has the full attention of 22 trainees for the New Hope Crisis Counseling Center, a faith-based suicide prevention hotline.

“I will tell you, the first calls you will get with New Hope, you will remember,” she says. “They’re profound.”

New Hope is more than 45 years old, but for many of the Catholics in the room, the training is their introduction to the program. A year ago, the evangelical ministry was just days away from shutting down before being saved by Catholic Charities. The survival of New Hope represents both the need and potential for a more robust faith-based response to mental health.

Saving the program

On the other side of Orange County, megachurch pastor Rick Warren has used the loss of his son, who died by suicide last year, to turn attention to mental health. His Saddleback Church partnered with the Catholic Diocese of Orange to host the largest gathering on the topic in March.

But mental health is not a new issue for churches.

New Hope started in 1968 at a young Garden Grove Community Church, one of the original megachurches. …

Read more in the digital edition of NCR

Conference takes aim at Christians’ silence on mental illness

Published by National Catholic Reporter, March 31, 2014

Saddleback Church GatheringLake Forest, Calif. — When Deacon Tom Lambert speaks about his experience parenting a child with mental illness in parishes around the country, people come up to him after Mass crying with stories of their own to share.

“It was the first time they felt comfortable enough to tell that story,” he said, addressing The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church on Friday at Saddleback Church.

Nearly a year after the suicide of Saddleback pastor Rick Warren’s son, the evangelical megachurch, the Catholic diocese of Orange, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) partnered to break Christians’ silence on mental health issues through the daylong conference. About 3,300 evangelical Christians and Catholics attended the gathering, and more than 6,000 watched live online, according to a news release about the event.

As pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, Warren grieved the loss of his son, Matthew, in public. “Kay and I have always known that someday we would be spokespeople for mental illness because God never wastes a hurt,” Warren said. …


Decolonizing Coverage: Religion, Celebrity and Kony 2012

Media critique for TRANS/MISSIONS, the site for the Knight Center for Media and Religion, March 26, 2012

After visiting a slum in Delhi, India with a young evangelical woman from Georgia, a friend and I got into a discussion about Americans working in the developing world. “Maybe I just don’t like NGOs,” he said, convinced that the efforts of not just evangelicals but all Westerners are tainted by a sense of cultural superiority. Continue reading “Decolonizing Coverage: Religion, Celebrity and Kony 2012”

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