Faith leaders from the South Bend area gathered at the South Bend First Seventh-day Adventist church on Sunday, April 24, to bring attention to the needs of improving the state's responses to crises.
Members of the Saint Joseph County Chapter of Faith in Indiana, including South Bend’s Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church Pastor Claval Hunter, helped organize the "We Make Indiana" event to encourage funding and support from local and state elected officials for a statewide crisis response system to make the community safer.
"There are people in our city and our state who are dealing with mental health issues and substance abuse, and we want them to know we care," says Claval Hunter, Host of We Make Indiana. "We don't want any more handcuffs, and we want them to be able to get the treatment that they need.
The captivating theme, "Help, not Handcuffs," highlights the committee's goal to provide more help for those who struggle with mental health or addiction. The main initiative is for funding for a statewide crisis response system. Instead of first calling the police, a statewide crisis response system has been recommended, so mental health and addiction specialists will be the first responders to a mental health or addiction crisis. Police are historically the first to be called. The individual is often handcuffed and carted off to jail instead of a mental health professional evaluation and referral for the appropriate level of care and treatment.
Organizers of the event are incredibly passionate about the initiative because some know how it feels to be a victim of the current system, where police are first called with no mental health professional involved.
"I know what it feels like not to have your father at your games; not to be able to have your father at your high school graduation," says Faith in Indiana member Dion Payne-Miller. Payne-Miller stated that he wanted elected officials to fully commit to having sustainable funding the statewide crisis response center so that families are not adversely affected. "Our lives are at stake here; our families' lives are at stake here."
The 250 community members that came out rose to their feet when State Senator Linda Rogers and state Representative Maureen Bauer pledged to secure funding for the crisis response system in the 2023 legislative budget.
"They are committed to working with Faith in Indiana, and they are saying 'we are going to find ways to help fund this crisis response system,' and so we got their commitment today," Hunter says.
In addition to participation in the crisis response initiative, The South Bend Berean Adventist Church, along with sister church, Maranatha Church, announced a March for Peace to address the high level of violence in South Bend with a walk in the city. The church invited the community and faith leaders to join the Sabbath, May 14 event, helping spread the message of peace, not violence, and to make our communities safe.
Beverly Sedlacek, South Bend Berean Church Communication director.