By Rev. Neelley Hicks

The bright lights of the Christmas season can glare against the shadows within where loss, anxiety, and depression are found. Giving collective attention to those feelings can help on a journey of understanding and healing. A non-traditional worship service and mental health resource event provided the sacred space for true light to be found.

Holiday Blues and Jazz was held on Sunday, December 10, 2023 and welcomed the Nashville and online community to a creative space featuring music, artistry, and time to engage with others in healing conversations. Sponsored by Scarritt Bennett Center and the Health and Wellness Initiatives Committee of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church, the idea for Holiday Blues and Jazz: Worship and Mental Health Resource Event was created by Rev. Marie C. King through the Capstone Project for completion of her Master of Divinity Degree with Central Theological Seminary (Shawnee, KS) in their Women’s Leadership Initiative.

“Never have I ever attended an event about a serious subject as mental health and had a ball!!! The array of artists and guests sharing their hearts and talents was such a refreshing approach during the holidays,” said Emcee Crystal Joy McLin.

The event featured Scarritt Bennett Center Director of Spirituality and Arts and Visual Artist Rev. Linda Furtado; Spoken Word Artist and Inaugural Poet Laureate Henry Jones; church musical director and minister Dale Kimbro; and Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter and pastor Rev. Dr. Kim McLean.

Holiday Blues and Jazz leaders Henry Jones, Rev. Linda Furtado, Crystal Joy McLin, Rev. Marie King, Minister Dale Kimbro, Rev. Dr. Paula Smith, and Rev. Dr. Kim McLean

Rev. Sondrea Tolbert, Executive Director of Scarritt Bennett Center, said, “If ever there was a time for Holiday Blues and Jazz, today is the day,” reflecting on the deadly tornadoes that had devastated communities in Tennessee the evening before. A prayer given by Rev. Tim Holton that was written by those in his chaplain ministry reflects the joy and sorrow that coexist:

“Your presence sustains us, and so allow us to be present to you in our pain.
Your strength was shown in weakness, and so we come to You in our weakness.
And so our weeping tarries for this night, but may joy come in the morning.
Death and destruction come for us all; we cannot deny them or the wounds they have left.
But we shall not let them have the last word because You did not let them have the last word.”

The multifaceted notes and chords of jazz pianist Minister Dale Kimbro evoked warmth and serenity as he accompanied the shared talents of Rev. Dr. Kim McLean and Henry Jones. Rev. Linda Furtado illustrated the event moment by moment through art that expressed what is ineffable. The beauty of the Scarritt Center’s International Room and the festive table of refreshments provided the perfect setting against the backdrop of a bright sky and cold temperatures.

Rev. Linda Furtado illustrates the movement of the event as Minister Dale Kimbro and Rev. Dr. Kim McLean share their musical talents.

Many people suffer in isolation because they are not aware of the mental health services that are available, but there is help. Representatives from state and local behavioral wellness organizations offer resources that should be shared through the Tennessee Western Kentucky Annual Conference.

People often turn to churches when they experience anxiety or depression. Knowing where to turn can make all the difference. Learn more about the organizations represented at Holiday Blues and Jazz.

Artisha Nicole attended Holiday Blues and Jazz virtually and quoted Henry Jones’ poem in her response, “As life has us experience different circumstances, we have to keep the faith. ‘Keep trying until I rise above the Silence.’ I needed all of this as I continue to heal.”

If you are in a mental health crisis, call 988. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.


Additional Mental Health Resources

Health and Wellness Initiatives Committee
Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church

Michael Rashon Adkins
Whitney Simpson
Marie C. King
Paula Smith
Cynthia Davis
Timothy Holton
Jonathan Lewis
Carlenda Smith, consultant
Josh Shaw, consultant
Megan McInnis, consultant