While many “mental health” programs focus on addressing mental illness, there is growing recognition that we need to advance positive mental health practices that increase resiliency to the stresses and mental health challenges we face every day. One approach is to strengthen skills for creating spiritual and mental balance in our lives as congregants, and to share those practices with our communities.
Finding balance in life can seem difficult when things appear to hit us all at once. The Living Compass program was founded with the belief that faith communities can play a powerful role in supporting individuals, couple and families in the journey towards greater wellness.
The program was developed by the Reverend Dr. Scott Stoner, an Episcopal priest, spiritual director, psychotherapist and an attendee at EDOT’s October Clergy Conference; and Holly Hughes Stoner, a marriage and family therapist. The program is currently housed at the Nicholas Center at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and provides resources, education and support to congregations seeking to support whole-person wellness.
“When we are out of balance God is whispering to us…and if we don’t listen to that whisper, God starts to shout at us. And if we don’t listen to that shout, then we are going to have a crisis…. But if we can help people listen to the whispers and the shouts, long before there is a crisis, then we can help heal them.”
–Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner, Developer of the Living Compass Program
EHF can help congregations interested in implementing the program by providing facilitator training to get the program started. Living Compass builds upon current EHF programming for mental health initiatives and presents a dynamic understanding of mental health, social support, spiritual health and cooperation as a means to heal the self and the community.
The signature program of Living Compass is a six-part program available for congregations and non-religious institutions.
The program highlights key areas for balance that support wellness in life:
- Soul – Spirit and Rest & Play
- Heart – Emotions and Relationships
- Strength – Care for Body and Resiliency
- Mind – Organization and Vocation
The format of the program is flexible to fit the needs of the group. Sessions can be: one-on-one or group-based, intensive or casual study, over six weeks or over six months. The program has also been tailored for different audiences: adults, teenagers, or parents in both religious and secular settings.
EHF can help interested congregations take advantage of this dynamic program in two ways:
1) By supporting delivery of a Living Compass program with your congregation, or as a joint initiative with your congregation and community.
2) By providing financial support to clergy or congregation members to become a Certified Congregational Wellness Advocate (CWA) and to deliver the program. CWAs are trained to use the Living Compass materials and support wellness activities that bring together mental, spiritual and physical health for their congregations. The three or four-day trainings take place multiple times throughout the year at the Diocese of Chicago’s Nicholas Center.
The training also allows for CWAs to meet and learn from other wellness ministry members in order to return home with creative opportunities to train their congregations. Previous formats include six-week Lenten study, Sunday School, group study in home or for special support groups dealing with grief, becoming new parents or new members to the parish.
If you would like to learn more about the Living Compass program to determine if this is right for your congregation, contact EHF and we’ll connect you with other churches and organizations across the Episcopal Diocese of Texas who are currently implementing the program.
Watch Living Compass videos:
- Living Compass for Parents Rector of Small Church Talks About How Much it Helped Her Church
- Living Compass for Parents Builds Community and Strengthens Spiritual Life