SoutHeart Fellowship

(Updated: June 30, 2017)

For some of us, mental illness is a frightening and scary state. For others, we have had to deal with it for years through members of our family or friends. Yet we are all called to be present on the margins with our brothers and sisters.

Matthew 25
34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[g] you did it to me.’  (NRSV)

Twice a month, volunteers from South, New Life, and Pittsford Presbyterian Churches come together to lead worship in a conversational style, complete with music, prayer, scripture, and coffee as the mainstay of the Protestant Coffeehouse at the Rochester Psychiatric Center’s Protestant Chapel.

In the last few months, we have said goodbye to those being discharged and have since found some of these individuals joining us for worship at Fellowship of Faith on Sunday mornings. Personal relationships have formed between volunteers and patients and the longer-term patients who are housed in the Forensic Unit, welcomed SoutHeart to their area of the facility for a carol sing at Christmas.

After a year of planning conversations, SoutHeart will expand to include two services a month in the Forensic Unit for people who are not yet permitted to come to the chapel. Beginning in October, those sequestered patients will enjoy a half-hour worship service and fifteen-minute Bible study twice a month, something they have requested of South Church for over a year.

If you are interested in learning more about SoutHeart Fellowship or the newly forming ministry in the Forensic Unit, please contact Pastor Deb through the “Contact Us” button on the ribbon above. No volunteer will be placed in a situation for which they are ill-prepared or which makes them uncomfortable. Volunteers regularly debrief their experiences together and as more than one of them has said, “This is my favorite place to worship. It’s authentic and real. There is no room for false-ness and facade-maintaining with these amazingly honest people.” And after all … isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do and be?