A Conversation for Those Standing at the Intersection of Faith and Mental Health


Unlikely Friends

Earlier this month, the annual Montgomery County Multi-Faith Coalition conference was held. It was a sold-out event with people from the faith community, social services sector and local government all coming together to collaborate for the common good. Among those leading the event were Aziz Nathoo, who serves as a coalition chair, and myself, the Director of Intersect, the program which oversees the Coalition. While there was a great deal of helpful content offered that day, perhaps the shear fact that Aziz and I collaborated on the event was itself a take away worth considering.

Aziz is known as a Muslim Interfaith preacher, civil dialogue promoter, social justice warrior and college chaplain. I am a Christian pastor, social worker, suicide intervention trainer and mental health chaplain. As a religious minority in America, Aziz emphasizes the importance of interfaith dialogue that seeks to “converse, not convert”. As a Christian in the evangelical tradition, I desire to share the good news of Jesus and emphasize that “conversion” isn’t a dirty word but simply describes the value of changing one’s mind when it discovers something true, good, and beautiful. Therefore, I’m more comfortable with our coalition’s emphasis that one can “share without imposing” rather than the language of “converse without converting”. Despite these differences, though, Aziz and I both spent the last week telling others what we appreciate about each other. I wrote a letter of recommendation for him that highlighted his integrity. He shared at the conference that I’ve changed his mental picture of an evangelical Christian.

Why am I sharing all this? Because when working for the common good of your community, we’re bound to interact with people different than us in a variety of ways. Different worldviews, different backgrounds and different experiences will abound. For some, this brings fear and a decision to altogether avoid collaborative spaces like the intersection of faith and mental health. However, if we bravely enter this space, we may find, as Aziz and I have, that we can bring our whole selves to the conversation, experience win-win collaboration and maybe even find a friend.

David Eckert, Director of Intersect

Recommended Resources
Below are resources for the purpose of wellness, education, and service.

Keystone Family Alliance and Bucks County Children and Youth Services

Is your church looking for ways to positively impact the lives of children? Keystone Family Alliance seeks to “educate, motivate and equip every Christian in the state of Pennsylvania on the needs of orphans and vulnerable children”. Keystone Family Alliance can provide your church with a framework and support for getting involved in the care needed by children in your own community. Whether your congregants are interested in becoming foster parents, donating needed items or providing a meal to a foster family, everybody can do something!

To find out more, you are invited to attend one of the following events that Keystone Family Alliance will be holding in our area (you are welcome to attend either regardless of the county you are located):

  • Montgomery County on July 16th at 7:00 pm at the Central Community Center at Central Schwenkfelder Church in Lansdale.
  • Bucks County on July 17th at 9:00 am at the Bucks County Administration Building in Doylestown.

Faith in the Family Podcast

Bryan and Jamilla Stafford are a husband-and-wife team of Christians who help other Christian families handle issues related to their faith, mental health, and relationships. Both co-hosts hold doctorates in different branches of psychology and master's degrees from Christian seminaries. Join them every week as they discuss any and all issues related to Christian families!

Title: The Intersection of Faith and Mental Health (featuring Dave Eckert)

Podcast date: May 31, 2023


Intersect: Join Our Multi-Faith Coalition

The Multi-Faith Coalition exists to cultivate trust and collaboration between people from diverse faith communities and service organizations by acting as a convener to promote dialogue and resource sharing for the common good. The coalition consists of three committees that play an important role in how we accomplish this mission, including the Resource Sharing Committee. Members of the Resource Sharing Committee actively work together to identify resources and gaps in services so that we can more effectively strengthen our collective efforts to improve the overall health of our region.

Visit our webpage to learn about how you can get involved.


Looking for a way to help those in your community?

Intersect: Community Needs Facebook Group

This Facebook group functions as a care portal for faith communities who are looking to meet local needs in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. We will post needs specific to the individuals supported by Access Services. These may include needs for relational support, material resources, and/or monetary donations. We encourage you to share this page with your family and friends. While we started this page to provide concrete service opportunities to local faith communities, we encourage any community members who are interested in giving back to join!

Questions to Ponder

  1. What situations do you tend to avoid because you aren’t sure how to navigate the space?
  2. What helps you collaborate with people different from you while still maintaining your own faith?

Do you have something to contribute or a question to ask?

Intersect is brought to you by:


Access Services
500 W Office Center Drive, Suite 100  | Fort Washington, Pennsylvania 19034
215-540-2150, x1286    deckert@accessservices.org

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