The eighth Interfaith Community Prayer Service for Mental Illness Recovery & Understanding took place Tuesday afternoon at First Congregational United Church of Christ on Cleveland Avenue in Niagara Falls. Area leaders from various faith traditions joined mental health consumers, including those who participate in programs provided by Community Missions and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, their families and community members, 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.
The annual event is held as 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.
Community Missions and Memorial Medical Center presented the program. Speakers included the Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister at Community Missions; the Rev. Vince Eisaman, pastoral care provider at Memorial Medical Center and pastor of Lewiston's United Baptist Christian Church; the Rev. Raymond Allen, pastor of Bethany Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Niagara Ministerial Council; Dinah Porter, community and cultural adviser of the All Our Relations Project, Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties; Rabbi Ellen Franke and Bill Bell of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls; the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president emeritus at Niagara University; Father Raphael Barberg of St. George Orthodox Church, Niagara Falls; Kuldip Singh Cheema, president of the Niagara Sikh Association; Joyce Sconiers of Niagara Wellness Connection Center and God's Woman Vanessa Scott Outreach Ministries; and Scott, who also sang.
In addition, Niagara Falls City Council members Andrew Touma and Christopher Voccio were in attendance.
These presenters noted one in five adults experiences mental illness problems every year. Although many people understand mental illness is a medical condition, individuals and families affected by it are still often subjected to stigma and discrimination.
The interfaith service seeks to change both public and private perception while providing hope and help for those dealing with mental illness.
Rev. Mark Breese
Rev. Vince Eisaman
Rev. Raymond Allen
Rabbi Ellen Franke and Bill Bell
Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M.
Father Raphael Barberg
Kuldip Singh Cheema
Joyce Sconiers and Vanessa Scott
Artwork created by individuals receiving services from Community Missions
An interesting image in the building