The College of Theology and Christian Ministry is pleased to announce the 7th Annual Faith and Culture Symposium on February 3-7, 2020. The goal of the Symposium is to create a space for conversation around key issues at the intersection of faith and culture. The theme of this year’s Symposium foregrounds a concern that affects the campus community at large—Mental Health and Faith: Human Wholeness, Mind, Body and Soul. All of the events address this topic from a variety of academic, social, theological, cultural and artistic perspectives.

Chapel on Monday, February 3 features guest speaker Dr. Monica A. Coleman, professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware, a respected womanist process theologian and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Dr. Coleman writes and speaks about her own experiences with mental health and the challenge it poses for teaching and ministry. She is the author of six books, including Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith (Fortress Press, 2016). The book is a powerful exploration of the legacies of violence, poverty, war, slavery and alcoholism that collectively contribute to the mental health crisis and uniquely affect minority communities of color. She leads workshops for clergy all over the world, enabling them to be better equipped to address challenges in their congregations.

An interfaith panel of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders on Tuesday, February 4 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in Massey Boardroom will address how various communities of faith creatively deal with the problem. “The mental health crisis we are facing these days requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and our faith communities are an important source of help,” urges Dr. Beth Ritter-Conn, lecturer in Religion and member of the faculty committee organizing this year’s Symposium. She notes, “Our guests on the panel will share about the wisdom they find in their Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions, as well as practical strategies they use when dealing with mental health challenges within their communities.” The panel welcomes Rabbi Laurie Rice, co-rabbi at Congregation Micah; Sabina Mohyuddin, executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council; and Rev. Amy Mears, co-pastor of Glendale Baptist Church. This WELL Core event is free and open to all Belmont students, staff, faculty and the wider community. It will be followed by a dinner in Massey Boardroom at 6 p.m. for invited clergy.

Chapel on Wednesday, February 4 features a panel geared toward Belmont students to raise better awareness of the many resources available on campus. Dr. Mary Mayorga, associate professor of mental health counseling and committee member who will moderate the panel, is acutely aware of the challenges on college campuses. She said, “We are simply doing our part in creating awareness of the importance of helping educate Belmont’s faculty and students on the crucial intersection of spirituality and mental health. We are fortunate to play a small part in making this happen.” The panel features Heather Daugherty (University Ministries), Dave Jaeger (Counseling Services), and Jamie Zeller (Be Well BU).

Thursday, February 6 provides a different lens to the topic of mental health through the arts. The afternoon event will feature the Rabbit Room Writers Round with special musical guests, Drew MillerTaylor LeonhardtEric Peters and Becca Jordan. The Rabbit Room is collective of local Nashville-based musicians, theologians, pastors and artists whose mission is to foster “Christ-centered community and spiritual formation through music, story and art.” The event is sponsored by the CTCM Student Advisory Board and will take place in the Janet Ayers Academic Center conference room from 4:30 – 6 p.m. with a cookie reception to follow. This WELL Core event is free and open to all Belmont students, staff, faculty and the wider community.

The Faith and Culture Symposium concludes with chapel on Friday, February 7 with guest speaker Natasha Walker on the role of music therapy and mental health, titled “Be Anxious for Nothing: Integrating Music, Mindfulness and Faith.” Professor Walker, MM, MT-BC, Instructor of Music Therapy, joined the Belmont University faculty as adjunct professor and clinical practicum supervisor in January 2016. She is the owner and founder of ReSOUNDing Peace, a faith-based, wellness music therapy private practice in Nashville. The event will take place in The Herbert C. Gabhart Chapel in the Janet Ayers Academic Center.

This year’s Symposium is supported by the Mental Health Counseling program at Belmont University. It is unique among contemporary counseling programs in that it embodies Christian and pastoral theological understandings of the care of human beings in addressing the depth and complexity of human suffering. The program offers three tracks to professional state licensure: clinical mental health counseling, marriage, couples and family counseling and pastoral counseling. The program seeks to guide the forming of professionals who will act with integrity in the world as agents of the ministries of healing and transformation serving individuals, couples, families or larger groups. The program seeks to accomplish this goal through the integration of the wisdom, insight and values of the Church’s care of souls tradition with the knowledge, skills and resources of contemporary scientific counseling. The CACREP accreditation site team visited Belmont in October of 2019 and reported the program met all standards. The program anticipates notification of accreditation status at any time. For more information, please visit the website here.

Other members of the faculty committee include Assistant Professor of Mental Health Counseling Dr. Layla Bonner and Assistant Professor of Religion Dr. Gideon Park.

Original article published here