Voices on Mental Illness in the Church

This book is a collection of essays from various authors, ranging in length from 1,000 words to 5,000 words. Whispers in the Pews tackles how the mentally ill have been and still are treated in the church at large by sharing stories about how they're seen or have been treated. This is NOT fundamentally a teaching book, but a book of moments and lives, knitted together by the common theme of mental health.

Whispers in the Pews is an important collaborative book. This is not an idea that we'd only like to see happen. No, this is a book that must exist. We believe the Church can grow in how it responds to, treats, and invites those with mental illnesses into community. We are excited to see this idea come into existence.

To grow the excitement, we will be featuring highlights from our authors in the coming months. This page will have information about each author, posts from them about why they chose to put their words into this essay collection, and maybe even a snippet or two from the essays themselves.

Lindsay A. Franklin is the best-selling author of Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women and The Story Peddler, an award-winning editor, and a homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. She lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following. You can learn more about Lindsay on her website.

Karen deBlieck’s writing reflects the tension of identity and sense of belonging she struggled with as a black American born in Japan and adopted by white Canadian missionaries. From a young age she found solace in putting her thoughts and feelings on the page. Writing in poem, short story and novel form, her pieces are emotionally and conflict charged. Check out more about Karen, her current projects and her blog at her website.

Katie Phillips is a fiction editor and author coach helping women authorpreneurs writing scifi/fantasy to create breakthrough in their writing craft and career. She has experienced first-hand the affects of depression, anxiety, and other mental illness, and is passionate about the church supporting everyone affected and helping them find hope and healing. Katie grew up a farm girl and lives with her husband in her hometown of Wichita, Kansas.

Virginia Pillars detailed her journey through mental illness with her adult child in her memoir, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness, winner of the 2017 Selah Award and the CWG Seal of Approval. She contributed to Grief Diaries Poetry, Prose & More and themighty.com. Virginia speaks on mental illness and volunteers for the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) organization as an educator/support group leader. She blogs here.

Josh Hardt is a Christ-Follower, avid reader, ecumenical nerd, and lover of puns. He lives in the Midwest with his wife and two high-energy children. When not living in worlds of others’ devising, Josh enjoys nighttime walks and board games. He’s currently hard at work on his first novel. He is also one part of the magic that happens on the Laser, Dragon and Keyboards podcast.

Heather Cook is a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. In her nearly forty years, she has survived a myriad of abuses and developed post traumatic stress disorder. After many years of carrying secrets, she faced the memories she tried to suppress, allowed herself to grieve, and sought healing from the Great Physician Himself. She lives in beautiful middle Tennessee with her husband of 18 years and four children.

James Prescott is a writer, podcaster and mental health advocate. He is author of several books, including Mosaic Of Grace - God’s Beautiful Reshaping Of Our Broken Lives. He also hosts the Poema Podcast on creativity & spirituality, and co-hosts the Creating Normal podcast on creativity and mental illness. Connect with James on Twitter and find more of his work at his website.

Nancy Booth, a member of Ezra Church in Wisconsin, is a writer, life coach and spiritual director who encourages women to find freedom as they discover who they are in God’s eyes. Her coaching and writing focuses on building a healthy, purposeful, peaceful mind, heart, body and soul. She can be found at her website.

Aaron J Smith is a father, writer, nerd, and coffee drinker. He hates writing about himself. It’s the worst. He lives with Bipolar II and fiercely believes in mental health advocacy to remove stigma and shame associated with mental illness.

He also likes cats. Aaron lives in the Pacific Northwest with his two kids. He has been featured on several prominent websites and published anthologies.

You can find him at his website and on Twitter.

Joel Larson is Aurora Behavioral Health System's Manager of Chaplain Services and oversees the Chaplain services for patients, consults with patients, and leads spirituality group sessions for adults and adolescents. Joel has a Masters of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and a Masters of Arts in Human Services Counseling from Liberty University. He served as an Arizona National Guard Chaplain Assistant conducting counseling sessions, and teaching suicide prevention and stress first aid techniques. Joel worked as a mobile crisis therapist and volunteered as a pastor at a local church.

Janeen Ippolito believes words transform worlds and loves empowering people to write with excellence and boldness. She creates writing resources and writes stories about misfits who own their scars and defy the darkness.

She’s also an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, and the president of Uncommon Universes Press.

In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting with her missionary husband, reading, and wood-burning. Connect with Janeen at her website.

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author who is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne has published 14 books including her memoir, Broken: A story of abuse, survival and hope. Anne believes life is hard. She writes words to make it softer.

Connect with Anne on her Website, Facebook or see her articles on Medium
Sign up for her newsletter and choose one of her free Ebooks: Helping Someone in Grief, or Real Love.

Stephanie Guido has loved reading since she was four years old when her mother found her studiously examining Little House on the Prairie page by page and insisting she could understand every word. 

So, it is most fitting that she writes and edits for a living with Quill Pen Editorial, and she’s now working her own first novel as well as shorter fiction and non-fiction pieces.