Faith leaders from the South Bend area in Indiana, United States, gathered at the South Bend First Seventh-day Adventist church on April 24, 2022, 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 the pastor of South Bend’s Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church, 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,” Hunter, host of We Make Indiana, said. “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 chapter’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. The crisis response system has been recommended as an alternative to calling the police, and mental health and addiction specialists will be the first responders to a mental health or addiction crisis. Historically, the police are the first to be called, and the individual is often handcuffed and carted off to jail instead of receiving a mental health evaluation and referral for the appropriate level of care and treatment.
Organizers of the event are passionate about the initiative because some know how it feels to be a victim of the current system, where police are first called and no mental health professional is 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,” Faith in Indiana member Dion Payne-Miller said. Payne-Miller stated that he wanted elected officials to fully commit to having sustainable funding for 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 who 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 said.
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 May 14 event, helping spread the message of peace, not violence, and to make communities safer.