Office of Community and Faith Engagement (OCFE)
Faith-based 2020 Virtual Series 

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In many cases, faith community leaders are “first responders” when individuals and families face public health crisis, disaster, or mental health problems. This virtual workshop is a 5-part series that provides resources to help faith leaders understand mental health and break down barriers that prevent people from seeking the care they need.  Each workshop will feature guest speakers: Bob VandePol, MSW - Director of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services’ Employee Assistance Program and Dr. Casilda Maxwell - Outpatient Psychologist at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.


August 13 - Leading Your Congregation Through COVID-19

August 20 - Replacing Panic with Peace

August 27 - The Invisible War: Faith Leadership Among the Depressed

September 10 - Your Life Matters: Suicide Prevention and Postvention

September 15 - The Resilient Faith Leader

Time: 10:00 AM

Duration: 90 mins

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Virtual Workshop Series

Leading Your Congregation Through COVID-19
August 13 (10:00 AM ET / 9:00 AM CT) (1.5 hour)
Faith leaders are being challenged as never before as they lead their congregations along an unprecedented path with no defined destination. This training will identify the role of Emotional Intelligence, best practice elements from the fields of disaster response, and crisis communication to provide practical leadership strategies that facilitate resilience.  

Replacing Panic with Peace: 
August 20 (10:00 AM ET / 9:00 AM CT) (1.5 hour)
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States for both children and adults. We have all felt nervous or anxious at times. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress that helps us prepare for significant events or warns us to take action to get out of harm’s way. But, unlike the relatively mild and brief anxiety we might experience in these situations, anxiety disorders are much different. Strategies for anxiety-friendly and peace-building ministry will be proposed.

The Invisible War: Faith Leadership Among the Depressed
August 27 (10:00 AM / 9:00 AM CT) (1.5 hour)
We all feel sad sometimes and even go through periods of grief or having feelings of failure and disappointment. But that is not depression. Depression, even in its mildest form, is more than an occasional period of sadness. This training will identify symptoms of depression, confront myths, and propose formal and informal strategies for ministry and treatment.

Your Life Matters: Suicide Prevention and Postvention
September 10 (10:00 AM ET / 9:00 AM CT) (1.5 hour)
Suicide breaks ALL the rules. This training will identify risk and protective factors; outline prevention strategies and resources, propose immediate action steps when imminent danger may be present, and recommend how to care for survivors following death by suicide.

The Resilient Faith Leader
September 15 (10:00 AM ET / 9:00 AM CT) (1.5 hour)
Faith Leadership is a two-edged sword -- both wonderful and awful. The secondary impacts of wading through other peoples’ fears, grief, anger, etc. can impact faith leaders in tragic ways. This training will focus upon research that identifies the characteristics and practices of those who bounce back and bounce forward from these stressors.


Guest Speaker Bios

Casilda R. Maxwell, Ph.D.

Dr. Maxwell is originally from Baltimore, MD and relocated to Grand Rapids, MI where she works at Pine Rest Mental Health Services as a licensed psychologist. She strives to work with clients by individually meeting them where they are by giving attention to their unique life experiences, psychological symptoms, cultural experiences and spiritual/religious beliefs.


Bob VandePol, MSW

Bob VandePol leads an organization that leverages behavioral health expertise to support the health and success of businesses and houses of worship. He formerly helped lead a startup into the world’s largest provider of crisis response services to the workplace.