Community Missions will hold an interfaith community prayer service Tuesday as part of the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. The service will be held from 3:30-4:15 p.m. with light refreshments to follow the service.
The prayer service is open to the public. It will be held at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 822 Cleveland Ave., Niagara Falls.
This year the service will include representatives from several faith traditions across the Niagara Region. Among those represented will be:
•Dr. Mohammad Salem Agwa, senior lecturer of Arabic at Niagara University and imam of The Islamic Cultural Center of Niagara Falls, offering prayer from the Islamic tradition;
•Dr. Jeannette Choho Ludwig, associate professor of romance languages and literatures at the University at Buffalo, who will offer prayers from the Buddhist tradition;
•Julie Whittemore, AmeriCorps VISTA member currently working at Community Missions will offer prayers from the Jewish tradition;
•Sister Beth Brosmer, executive director of Heart, Love & Soul Food Pantry & Dining Room in Niagara Falls will offer prayers out of the Roman Catholic and Franciscan traditions;
•Rev. Marna Pritchard, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ, will offer prayers out of the Protestant tradition and will also lead the prayer service along with Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister and director of ministry and community partnerships at Community Missions.
The service will include music and a candle-lighting ceremony that all attendees can participate in.
This is the fourth year Community Missions and the First Congregational church have presented this service.
"The community prayer service for mental illness recovery and understanding really is for the whole community," Breese said. "The general public, along with faith leaders, community leaders, service providers, local politicians - we all have a role to play in confronting the stigma of mental illness. This is a chance for the whole community to stand together to show our concern and caring for our neighbors who are affected by mental illness."
This National Day of Prayer is part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is Oct. 5-11 in 2014. Established by an Act of Congress in 1990, MIAW is observed in the first week of October. It is an opportunity to learn more about mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Since the early 1970s, Community Missions has been addressing this public health issue by offering a variety of residential and community-based programs for youth and adults with mental illness.
"An important, and sometimes overlooked, step to the recovery of those dealing with mental illness is to work with the community to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness," said Robyn Krueger, Community Missions executive director. "We are all part of one community, and the wellbeing of our neighbors should be a concern for all of us."