When the prayers of the people begin, the Stephens' pew in the back starts to thump. Ten-year-old Mallory is working her way toward the door. As I hand the offering baskets to the ushers, she returns with a large cooler.
The day began with a worship service that was filled with a bittersweet sense of endings and beginnings. There was a procession of joy as seminary graduates were honored and celebrated. There were tables and tables of food, and young people posing for photos with their arms linked. We heard expressions of gratitude and were introduced to families that we'd heard about but never met.
Reflecting on depression among African Americans and its isolating effects, Wynnetta Wimberley of Emory University says the African adage “I am, because we are” should be used to combat depression in the black community. One study has shown that African Americans are more likely to seek help from clergy than from mental health counseling or medication. Hence African-American pastors play a key role of helping to overcome the shame of depression and restoring people’s place in their communities (Journal of Pastoral Theology, March).