Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard

Transitional Leader of the
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy 

Beginning in 2011, I spent a year doing fundraising for Bethesda Lutheran Communities. I worked from the corporate office in Watertown WI. I helped fund group homes throughout the Midwest. Bethesda has resources for congregations that help welcome and minister to the mentally disabled. The PC(USA) is greatly lacking in this area. So, when Johanna Wagner and her spouse Michael Coyle developed the idea of Caritas Presbyterian Fellowship (CPF), I saw real possibility.
Johanna writes about Caritas saying, “CPF’s mission will be to provide opportunities for people with mental health issues to benefit from membership in a community focused on spiritual growth, and to educate churches interested in developing programming supportive of people with mental health diagnoses on how to do so effectively. Initially, the focus of CPF’s programming will be serving people diagnosed with mood, anxiety and thought disorders.”
Caritas began by serving the community at the Independence Center in St. Louis. Now, Johanna and Michael have launched a podcast called Two Mentally Ill People!
As I listen to the first podcast of 2MIP (which can be heard here ), I understand what they are doing. Johanna and Michael are attempting to remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness by helping us to see life through their eyes. By sharing their lives and examples of the daily challenges and opportunities they face, Johanna and Michael make the difficult subject of mental illness and emotional disability approachable.
I have a daughter who suffers from depression. She was first diagnosed while in college. I see the challenges of her life as her brilliant mind struggles with emotional inconsistency.
2MIP is for people like my daughter. She’ll learn that life can be full, even with depression. 2MIP is for people like me. Listening to Johanna and Michael dialogue with love, helps me to see through the false screen of limitations society places on my daughter and the mentally ill. Because those who suffer from emotional and mental disabilities are also God’s children living in grace, faith, and love.
Rev. Craig M. Howard


  • Posted April 17, 2018 5:21 pm
    Mike Willock

    Wow! Thanks for recognizing this important ministry and helping our congregations understand how they can get involved and help. The only thing missing is to let folks know how they can financially support it. Jesus’ caring and healing in the gospels was not limited to those who were ill or only with physical infirmities. Go Caritas.

    • Posted April 18, 2018 11:06 am
      Johanna Wagner

      Hi Mike, thank you for your interest in supporting the new podcast! The best way to donate at the moment (and until we work out the details online) is to send a check to Caritas Presbyterian Fellowship c/o Trinity Presbyterian Church, 6800 Washington Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63130. In 2017, we were exceedingly blessed to have received funding from the EPHT, SOMA and the national church to get this project off the ground.

  • Posted April 17, 2018 10:31 pm
    Lawson Calhoun

    Thanks for sharing. This reminds me of my study and teaching of Mental Health First Aid class. Mental health issues affects all of our society in some, way, shape or form. It is estimated that one in five Americans will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. It is extremely likely we will encounter someone in our family, workplace, church and community who live with a diagnosed mental disorder. Thanks again for this work.

    • Posted April 18, 2018 11:08 am
      Johanna Wagner

      Hi Lawson, these courses are great ministries for people to get involved with. Studies show that the most important factor in a person’s learning how to cope with a mental health condition is the social support they may (or may not) be receiving. Thank you for being such a great advocate for the mental health community!

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