October’s BIG IDEA

Pastoral Care and Counseling

Where there is no counsel, purposes are frustrated, but with many counselors they are
accomplished.                           – Proverbs 15:22

Regardless of one’s geographic location, socioeconomic status, or race, people experience a myriad of problems that can often make life difficult to bear.  Times have been especially difficult as people experience jobs loss, home foreclosures, and weather related tragedies.  West End Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is working to provide people with tools to cope with such obstacles through its counseling ministry. 

In 2008, West End Seventh-Day Adventist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Calvin B. Preston and program director, Theora Powell, officially began the church’s Healing Recovery Group.  Mrs. Powell previously served as the church’s family life director, a role that was not intended to involve counseling.  However, there were so many people confiding in her about their problems that Mrs. Powell found herself counseling them anyway.  It was then that she recognized the need for a formal counseling ministry within the church. 
Mrs. Powell, who holds a masters degree in counseling and works full-time as a counselor, began the Healing Recovery Group to provide a space for people to receive healing from their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups.”  The group follows a Christian-centered, 12-step program, with participants spending about two weeks completing each step.  The church also plans to begin a new group during each quarter of the year to provide ongoing opportunities for people to participate. 

Mrs. Powell attributes the group’s success to the confidentiality that exists within the group.  In her experience, Mrs. Powell found that many African Americans weren’t “comfortable seeking counseling because of the stigma attached to it.  They don’t want people to think they’re crazy.”  Because of this concern, members must sign a confidentiality agreement.  Also, group facilitators must first participate in the program, so that they will understand the process and also to seek healing for themselves. 

West End SDA Church’s Healing and Recovery Group is open to anyone in the church and community who agrees to maintain confidentiality.  The church also offers individual counseling sessions and parenting classes, which are led by volunteers from the church who have counseling backgrounds.  The ministry has partnered with the National Institute for Mental Health to provide materials, and funding for the ministry comes from private donors.    

While many African American churches shun counseling and rely solely on prayer, West End Seventh-Day Adventist Church understands that the power of prayer combined with professional counseling often yields great rewards for individuals who are hurting.  By organizing the resources this congregation has available to them, this church has implemented a BIG IDEA and makes counseling accessible to a population of people who otherwise might not seek it.


If your church is interested in developing a pastoral care and counseling ministry, the following national and community organizations may assist with your project:

Churches with counseling ministries:

  • West End Seventh-Day Adventist Church
    845 Lawton Street
    Atlanta, GA 30310
    (404) 755-5927
    Pastor, Calvin B. Preston

  • The Healing Center Full Gospel Baptist Church
    3885 Tchulahoma Road
    Memphis, TN 38118
    (901) 370-4673
    Pastors, William and Dianne Young

  • Manna House Recovery Church
    8019 Cedar Avenue
    Cleveland, OH 44103
    (216) 432-2598
    Pastors, Frank and Gwen Smith

  • Valley Brook Outreach Baptist Church
    8323 Augusta Road
    Pelzer, SC 29669
    (864) 243-9305
    Pastor, Curtis L. Johnson


  • African American Pastoral Care and Counseling:  The Politics of Oppression and Empowerment by Edward P. Wimberly

  • Beyond the Suffering:  Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Direction by Robert W. Kelleman and Karole A. Edwards

  • Biblical Counseling with African-Americans:  Taking a Ride in the Ethiopian’s Chariot by Clarence Walker

  • Biblical Perspectives on Tough Issues:  Counseling in African American-American Communities  by Lee N. June and Sabrina D. Black

  • Counseling African American Marriages and Families by Edward P. Wimberly

  • Introduction to Biblical Counseling by John F. McArthur, Jr. and Wayne A. Mack

  • Pastoral Care of the Oppressed:  A Reappraisal of the Social Crisis Ministry of African American Churches by Lonzy F. Edwars, Sr.

  • Ready to Restore:  The Layman’s Guide to Christian Counseling by Jay E. Adams

  • Reclaiming the Urban Family:  How to Mobilize the Church as a Family Training Center by Willie Richardson


2013 Units