Community Missions will present its 12th annual interfaith community prayer service for mental illness recovery and understanding at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4. The service will be hosted by Niagara University at its new NU@822 property, home to the Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement and First Congregational United Church of Christ, 822 Cleveland Ave., Niagara Falls.
Organizers said, “The event is part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, a national event designed to raise public awareness about mental illness, and break down the stigma that too often discourages people from seeking help when needed.”
The public is invited to attend the event, while it will also be available via a livestream on Community Missions’ Facebook page, found at www.facebook.com/cminiagara.
“Area leaders from various faith traditions will join to seek guidance and help in replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and life, in order to offer hope to those touched by mental illness,” said the Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister at Community Missions. “With the clear challenges to mental health and wellness that were brought to light and caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that people of all faiths join together in prayer to offer hope and comfort to those struggling with mental illness in this new dynamic.”
The service will feature readings, prayers and music offered by representatives of various faith traditions and community members. It is anticipated that traditions including Native American, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim and Christian will participate in this year’s event.
“The Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement has had a longstanding interest in promoting good mental health services and practices in the community,” said Dr. Karen Kwandrans, associate vice president, strategic and external relations. “We are pleased to partner with the broader faith community who have joined together for more than a decade here in Niagara Falls at this annual service. This event calls attention to the importance of supporting those living with mental illness.”
A press release noted, “One in five adults experience mental illness each year, while one in every six American youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder annually. Although many people understand that mental illness is a medical condition, individuals and families affected by it are still often subjected to stigma and discrimination.”
Breese said, “It is so critical that we, as a society, squarely face the challenge of ending the unnecessary stigma associated with mental illness. This service is an opportunity for the wonderfully diverse faith community in Niagara County to come together to pray for both the healing of those living with mental illness, and to call for strong unified advocacy and community action to address the unnecessary injustice our neighbors living with mental illness too often face.”
For more information, contact Breese at 285-3403, ext. 2259, or [email protected].