Saddleback Church to Hold Inaugural Gathering on Mental Health & the Church

Co-hosts Pastor Rick & Kay Warren; Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange, & NAMI-OC Call Church to Act on Behalf of Individuals and Families Living with Mental Illness

LAKE FOREST, Calif., Feb. 25, 2014 Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, the Most Reverend Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County (NAMI-OC) are joining together to host The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church on March 28 at Saddleback Church in Southern California.

Open to everyone, The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church is designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any who face the challenges of mental illness.

“It’s so important that people know, no matter how desperate their despair, there is hope, and not to give up,” said Kay Warren. “We want this to be a hopeful event that encourages individuals and helps them realize they are not alone in dealing with mental illness.”

This event marks the first initiative in the Warren’s mission to remove the stigma of mental illness following the April 5 passing of their son Matthew, who struggled with mental illness.

“Any other part of the body, you can have it hurt and there is no shame in it,” Pastor Warren said. “If your brain doesn’t work right, why do you have stigma? It’s just another organ in your body.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, one in four adults − approximately 61.5 million Americans − experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17 − about 13.6 million − live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

The first place many go for help is to their faith leader because the heart of Jesus and the Church has always been for those who suffer.

“As a Catholic community of faith we are blessed to join with the Warren family, NAMI-OC and the Saddleback community in co-hosting this important gathering,” said Bishop Vann. “It is my hope that this opportunity for prayer, support, dialogue and education will encourage our society to share the healing mission and the love of Christ with those who suffer from mental illnesses.”

The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. PDT at the main campus of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Tickets for the Worship Center and overflow locations are currently available for $20. The event will also be webcast live, with additional details to be announced soon. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-gathering-on-mental-health-and-the-church-registration-10512869275.

Founded in 1980 by the Warrens, Saddleback Church is located in Orange County, Calif. With an average weekly attendance of 22,000, it is one of the largest churches in America. For more information, visit http://www.saddleback.com.

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Note to Editors: For media credentials to cover The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, contact Kristin Cole at 972.267.1111 or Kristin@alarryross.com.