Story by Visitor and Capitol Hill Church Staff
In 2017 Emil Peeler (pictured second from right, with fellow board member), the senior pastor of Allegheny East Conference’s Capitol Hill church in Washington, D.C., had a vision to open a center that would help address the mental health issues impacting lives in D.C.-area neighborhoods. “In so many areas of my life—as a pastor, professor, community leader, even as a friend—I was seeing people at every income level being impacted by mental health issues,” says Peeler. “The need for therapy seemed greater than the services available, and I learned very few services integrated a Christian perspective. God placed on my heart that I needed to do something.”
This week Peeler and his church family realized that dream when community leaders, pastors, mental health professionals and other guests celebrated the grand opening of Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center right across from the church.
The organization is a nonprofit center established to offer evidence-based therapy from clinically licensed mental health professionals integrated with a Christian perspective. Implemented in the office or at home, it provides resources that include speech therapy, nutrition workshops, healthy eating coaching, life skills coaching and youth empowerment. A Urban Center of Influence, co-sponsored by the North American Division, will also operate out of the center. The clients will include children ages three and up, teens and adults.
After Peeler assembled a team of professionals that included church members with multiple areas of expertise and mental health professionals, church leadership established Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a board of directors and advisors. In 2018 the nonprofit found, purchased and remodeled the building across the street from the church.
Morgan Medlock, a psychiatrist and board member, says, “For generations, particularly in communities of color, people have not wanted to talk about nor seek treatment for mental health issues. It was taboo. That’s finally starting to change.” She continues, “People are starting to realize their mental health is just as important as their physical health. When people have a mental or spiritual issue, they need to get help. Mental health affects how they handle stress, relate to other people and make decisions.”
The center will operate Sundays through Fridays, and is closed on Saturdays. “Today I’m overwhelmed and filled with joy, seeing the Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center come to fruition and so many here to celebrate at the grand opening,” says Peeler. “I’ve been a witness, watching God work some miracles to bring this all together. And what warms my heart most is knowing it will touch so many lives, helping them heal mentally to become what God called them to be.”
To learn more about the center, call 202-812-0261.
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