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Community Mental Health: The Role of Church and Temple by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr., (Ed.)

Howard J. Clinebell, Jr., is retired professor of Pastoral Counseling, School of Theology at Claremont, California. Published by Abingdon Press, New York, Nashville, 1970. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

Through the centuries, churches and temples have had a continuing concern for helping the burdened and the crisis-stricken. The one to whom Christians look as founder of their tradition and model of their style of life was called "great physician." Long before he was born, the wise men of Israel functioned in guiding the troubled. The ancient emphasis on healing and helping has received fresh impetus and resources in the contemporary scene. Time-tested wisdom about relationships, in the Hebrew-Christian tradition, has been confirmed and enhanced by insights from the sciences of man and skills from the counseling arts. Consequently, clergymen and laymen have an unprecedented opportunity to participate effectively in the treatment dimension of the community mental health movement. By so doing they can be in mission, using the "gifts of healing, or ability to help others or power to guide them." (I Cor. 12:28 NEB.)

This section illuminates several salient aspects of the church’s many faceted opportunity in counseling and pastoral care. It begins with an overview chapter by a psychiatrist (Knight) of the therapeutic ministry of a church. This is followed by a discussion of crisis counseling with special reference to suicide prevention (Pretzel) In succeeding chapters the nature of the churches’ ministry to persons in special need is probed -- the poor (Browning) , the gifted and retarded (Kemp) , the bereaved (Grollman) , the alcoholic (Dominick) , the mentally ill (Kempson) , and the ex-inmate (Klink) One chapter (Bushfield) deals with a vital new mental health treatment resource -- the church-related counseling service. The final chapter in this section (Oman) describes a local church program which takes the therapeutic ministry seriously.

Through only scratching the surface of the potentialities of clergymen and churches in the counseling field, these chapters point to some of the major trends and opportunities for reducing human suffering through such a ministry. They reflect some of the new insights and methods which are emerging in this renaissance period in pastoral care and counseling.

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