Since 1989, this Center has served the Lima community as an outgrowth of the faith community. A group of clergy and church leaders in Lima were interested in having a faith-based pastoral counseling center to which they might send their parishioners. It was hoped that the counseling center could be regarded as an extension of the local church ministry. From the beginning of the history until now, the Center has been integrally related to the life of the faith community and has endeavored to be an extension of the local church ministry.

Initially, the Center was established as a satellite of the Samaritan Counseling Center of Toledo. Offices were opened in the Market Street Presbyterian Church, and later at 1130 West Market Street. The office we now occupy at 1130 W. Market St. is owned by Market Street Presbyterian Church. We have been blessed immensely by the generosity of Market Street Presbyterian in the use of this very fine facility. Even though the building at 1130 W. Market St. is not handicapped accessible, we do have access to the church building which is handicapped accessible if the need arises.

The uniqueness of this Center resides in the close affiliation and partnership the Center has enjoyed with the faith community over the years. The Center depends upon the financial contributions of congregations to maintain its viability.

The mission of the Center has always been to serve anyone who comes to the Center regardless of a person’s financial or spiritual resources. As might be expected in light of this mission, the fee for service will never be sufficient to meet the needs of the Center. By design, the Center is dependent upon a partnership with the faith community to sustain its ongoing operating expenses. Up until now, contributions from supporting congregations and individuals have been sufficient to balance the expenses of the Center. This partnership of ministry is reflected in the fact that the board composition of the Center comes largely from the congregations that have supported the Center over the years.

If there has been one thing the Center has done well over the years, it has been to maintain a continual connection with the faith community as a partner in ministry. This is probably the most unique aspect of the Center; it would be very rare in other contexts in the larger community that people could come together from across the cultural and theological landscape for a shared mission together.

The passion that has driven this Center for the better part of two decades has been an unwavering yearning to meet the needs of the people to which the Center is called. In this regard, the Center has enjoyed a very favorable regard in the community through numerous television appearances, well received educational events and a good reputation clinically. The accreditation standards which call for fully accredited and/or licensed clinicians who are also conversant with matters of faith and practice has provided a never ending conversation with those in the larger community. In all of the accolades the Center has enjoyed, however, it could be said that the number one factor that has allowed the success of the Center to flourish has been the passion to serve— the Executive Director, the board, the staff have all been committed to serve in the manner that would be in the best interests of the Center and the constituent congregations that have supported it. The model the Center has operated by has been that of a classical pastoral counseling/mental health agency.

Since 2005, the board gave clear direction to the Executive Director to pare down the clinical work and use that time to look for new opportunities in the community in which the Center might find itself in growing a new focus for Center development. That focus has been the efforts to explore the ways and means to involve the faith community in the problems related to substance abuse. The experience of the Center, as well as national statistics, bear out the contention that alcohol and drug related difficulties impact virtually every family in America in one way or another. At the same time, most people who are in recovery do not affiliate with local congregations. What this says is that while the alcohol and drug issues impacts many, many families of all congregations, most congregations do not have the tools available to adequately address the problems. The stigma associated with addictions is so great in the minds of the majority of people struggling with the problems, that they do not feel themselves free to appropriate the spiritual resources of the congregation to assist them with successfully addressing the problems—either as individuals or as family units. The effort to address this vast difficulty has been the subject of intense interest on the part of the Executive Director, and proves to be a significant area of concern in cooperation with other institutions in the community.

In Lima and across the country, the impact of congregations on the affairs of the community is fast declining. Some have dubbed this new era as the “post-church” age. What this means in practical terms is that the faith community must learn to adapt to the new realities of the culture or slip into history. This is not to say that God’s work of redemption is over; what is over is the way Americans have been used to doing “church.” This Center has been a partner in ministry with many different congregations over the years. For some we have been regarded as an integral part of the ministry; for others we have been an agent of grace in time of need even if the particular congregation has not supported the Center financially. The Center must pursue innovative means to emerge as the place the community will look to for direction as it pertains to matters of faith and practice, pastoral care, family issues and the general interest in spiritual development and formation.