News

Jun
14
2021
LISTEN: Central Texas Leadership Series - Dr. Brianna Lemmons, Drexel King and Marlon Jones
As we are just over a week away from Father’s Day, this Month on the Central Texas Leadership Series, a compelling conversation between Dr. Brianna Lemmons, President of The Black Female Fatherhood Scholars Network, Drexel King, one of the founding members of Black Fathers of Waco and Marlon Jones, Director of Fatherhood Services for STARRY – a nonprofit organization offering services in Counseling, Family Support, Foster Care and Adoption. LISTEN by clicking the title.
Jun
7
2021
Professor awarded $3.1M NIH grant exploring interventions with young women in the juvenile justice system
WACO, Texas (May 25, 2021) – Danielle Parrish, Ph.D., professor in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, has been awarded a $3.1 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study the efficacy of risk reduction intervention efforts for young women age 14-17 in the juvenile justice system. The grant will be dispersed over five years, beginning May 2021. The project, titled CHOICES-TEEN: Efficacy of a Bundled Risk Reduction Intervention for Juvenile Justice Females, is an effort to fill gaps in care for at-risk young women in the juvenile justice system.

"I'm really excited and honored to have this opportunity to pursue this research that I’ve had on my heart for many, many years," Parrish said. "This grant will provide the resources to implement a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of an intervention that I hope will be able to be used more widely in the U.S. and fill the gaps in services for this population."
Apr
26
2021
Tailored marriage programs are strengthening first responder and military couples
As the coronavirus began its transmission blitz last spring, the Taya and Chris Kyle Foundation (TACK-F) was forced to scale back its marriage-based programming. Even with a smattering of retreats and virtual group counseling sessions, the waitlist for in-person programs ballooned. Couples whose significant other is a first responder or serves in the military, or is a veteran were clamoring for help.


“The need has not gone down, I cannot stress that enough,” said Corie Weathers, national clinical director of programming at TACK-F and a licensed professional counselor. “Their world did not halt — it got more complicated.”


Problems in a marriage that once simmered before COVID-19 were brought to a boil in the last year. “Resentment is going up. Anxiety is up. Exhaustion is way off the radar,” she said. Combined with a “service lifestyle,” relationships already teetering on the edge of failing face slim odds of surviving.


“Your marriage is constantly under assault by the career,” said Brad Sims, an investigator and bomb technician with the Fort Worth Fire Department. A career first responder and Army veteran, he and his wife, Kelli, a pre-school educator, nearly filed for divorce six years ago.

Apr
1
2021
Falling Seed: How to provide pastoral care for complicated grief
Grief is a part of life for every person and, therefore, is a natural part of life for every church community.

Two of the most foundational duties of those in ministry are to walk alongside those who are grieving and to conduct funerals for the deceased and their loved ones. While the church is no stranger to grief, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges in how the church approaches and supports those grieving the loss of loved ones.
Apr
1
2021
Literacy Council of Tyler continues mission to improve adult literacy amid COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life, including education and literacy.

Literacy Texas and Baylor University Diana R. Garland School of Social Work released survey results last week that identified barriers — lack of technology and education — created by COVID-19 impacting Texas nonprofit adult literacy providers and students.

Leaders of the Literacy Council of Tyler participated in the survey. Though researchers determined that lack of access to technology is a major hurdle in literacy training, they identified a passionate and resilient community of professionals and volunteers committed to Texas’ adult literacy achievement.
Apr
1
2021
Why You Should View Your Words as Expressions of Love
Words have power; they can carry freedom or they can carry weight.

We often forget that power also resides in names.

Our names are what we closely identify with in places of comfort and places of estrangement. Knowing someone’s name can allow them to feel safe and cared for, just like forgetting someone’s name can make someone feel shame and embarrassment.

The adjectives or labels that we ascribe to someone also carry weight. When talking to or about someone who is in a vulnerable state, the words used are particularly important.

For example, there is a common tendency to call individuals who are on the journey out of addiction and in recovery as “addicts” or “alcoholics.” The intentions might be pure, but the verbiage is haunting.

“Hi, my name is Lacey, and I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.” This statement was a hopeful reminder of a new identity I received when accepting the gift of salvation.
Mar
24
2021
COVID Slide magnifies literacy challenges across Texas
DALLAS, TEXAS ( March 24, 2021) Literacy Texas and the Baylor University Diana R. Garland School of Social Work released survey results today, identifying barriers created by COVID-19 impacting Texas nonprofit adult literacy providers and students. As with education, mental health, and other key human learning services, the so-called “Covid Slide” has significantly impacted literacy training. Though researchers determined that lack of access to technology is a major hurdle in literacy training, they identified a passionate and resilient community of professionals and volunteers committed to Texas’ adult literacy achievement.
Mar
19
2021
After spiritual trauma, finding welcome in church once more
Growing up, the church always was a safe place for me. I grew up in the same small-town church my entire life, and a lot of our life revolved around the church.


Sundays were filled with Sunday school and the beloved evening prayer meeting, while Wednesdays were for mission group and choir. Our church felt like a village, a family that was raising me alongside my family of origin.


As a teenager, this could feel smothering at times. The beloved elderly church ladies had a running commentary on my life; out of a place of love, they would frequently express their opinions on my life choices — both positive and negative. Overall, my church was a safe, loving, nurturing place to be.

Mar
19
2021
Falling Seed: Compound collective trauma: Four ways ministry leaders can help
Lately, it seems I never can get enough sleep. I find myself with less patience. A task that used to take me an hour now takes me three hours. Any of this sound familiar? I guess it probably does.


We are in the midst of “compound collective trauma.” Collective trauma is described as a traumatic experience that affects and involves entire groups of people, communities or societies, such as a hurricane or war.


In a previous article, I discussed the positive and negative effects of the collective trauma of Hurricane Harvey. That is just one example of a collective trauma that effects a specific community or geographical area.


The whole world is a geographical area, right now, experiencing the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. While various countries are experiencing it differently, everyone is simultaneously in the midst of some aspect of the pandemic, and we all are experiencing the trauma throughout our specific communities.

Mar
19
2021
Powerhouse female professors to celebrate during Women’s History Month
All around campus, people are celebrating Women’s History Month. While looking at the history of women in this country, there’s plenty to appreciate when looking at the efforts of local professors that Baylor students see every day.


Some women who have already set the path here at Baylor include associate professor Helen Harris and professor Laura Hernandez. Not only have these women reached the top of their field, but they have set the standards for those who will follow after them.


Professor Helen Harris works in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and said she strives to go where the Lord calls her. Harris first came to Waco to start the first hospice in Central Texas while also teaching around 24 years ago when there was a strong need for it.

Mar
17
2021
PODCAST: BU faculty talk LGBTQ+ student support
A weekly podcast exploring stories at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens. This week Mitch and Autumn talk about what an increased minimum wage could do for the US.

Later, Dr. Tony Talbert and Dr. Helen Harris, professors at Baylor University, join the show to talk about their work with the LGBTQ+ student organization, Gamma Alpha Upsilon. The faculty senate passed a resolution in support of the group's charter - another step closer to their goal of being an official student organization.
Mar
11
2021
Falling Seed: Don’t underestimate the power of little things
Because of the sensitivity and confidentiality of the people and location, this piece has been generalized to keep those involved safe and to challenge congregations of all sizes not to underestimate what they can do.


“We sometimes underestimate the influence of the little things.”—Charles W. Chesnutt


I am the kind of person that must be doing something “big” in order to think change will occur. However, I was challenged by the above quote from Chesnutt.


I was blessed recently to witness a church do something that in most eyes would seem small, insignificant and ordinary. Last week, I observed a small community church rally around one of their members, do the “little things” and, through them, advocate for this individual while also instilling a sense of hope.

Mar
11
2021
Fears of the Faithful Hinder Care, Bring Harm
Why it is so hard for some people of faith to own their own discomfort? To own their own fears and see how they injure others?


These are salient questions when it comes to creating caring Christian community for the LGBTQIA+ community. It is an even more relevant question for the leadership of my own university.


In the Bible, there are multiple references to people being known by their fruit and people’s actions being judged by their consequences.


Jesus’ fruit analogy seems to be one of the most useful lenses through which we can examine our words and actions. And it should help us provide clarity for any conversation about how we offer support to the LGBTQIA+ community.


People who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community do not harm or injure others in any way because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Mar
5
2021
LGBTQ+ Christians Continue to Feel Sting of Judgment, Exclusion
The history of the Christian church includes many examples of addressing who belongs and who does not belong, starting at the very beginning.


Despite how clear Jesus was that women belonged, that Samaritans belonged and that lepers belonged, the early church struggled with whether or not Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.


That seems obvious to us now (as most reading this are likely Gentiles, not Jews), but it was a matter of contention until both Peter and Paul understood God’s inclusion of all and spoke up and spoke out.


Phillip’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch gave a concrete answer to the question, “Is there anything preventing me from being baptized?”


The answer, to someone barred from entering the sanctuary because of sexual difference, resounds through the years but often not through the church.


As a member of Protestant, often Baptist, congregations through the years, I have participated in the use of the words “Brother” and “Sister” to refer to other Christians.


If we are truly family, what does it mean when we cut off our siblings? When we make them hide or leave the family because they are different and unwelcome?

Mar
1
2021
Dear America, stop erasing me
It didn’t take long for me to learn that what made me different was not always seen as beautiful by the world that existed outside the four walls that I was raised in.
My story is from a third generation Chinese American lens, who was raised in the Midwest and attended school in the south — please know this writing doesn’t encompass or represent all Asian American stories.
Feb
11
2021
Voices: Learning justice demands all of me
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (NIV, Psalm 103:6).

“God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet” (The Message, Psalm 103:6).

Christian Scriptures give great hope for the oppressed and victims of oppression. No matter which translation of the Bible we read, it is clear in Psalm 103:6 that God knows about the oppression and the resulting victimization.

The Bible is full of admonitions to followers of the way of Jesus about our actions toward the oppressed and victimized. We are to treat all people with love, dignity, honor and justice, because we all are made in the image of God.

Our actions should flow naturally from a heart filled with God’s love. Learning to see people as God would have us see them, with loving actions toward and on behalf of all people, comes with a commitment to do this hard work with the Lord. That commitment, I have discovered, is a life-long journey.
Feb
9
2021
PODCAST: How Faith & Therapy Integrate In Mental Health Treatments
The Faith & Mental Wellness Podcast with Brittney Moses
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045: How Faith & Therapy Integrate In Mental Health Treatments

2/8/2021

Season 2, Ep. 40

Should Christians only see a Christian therapist?

How can faith and therapy integrate into mental health treatments?

And what does the data show about the benefits of including one's faith in therapy?


We're diving into all these things and more with my friend Dr. Holly Oxhandler. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

Dr. Holly Oxhandler is the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and an Associate Professor at Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. Holly studies religion/spirituality, health and mental health, and is especially interested in whether and how mental and behavioral health therapists discuss their client’s religious/spiritual beliefs in treatment. She developed and validated the Religious/Spiritually Integrated Practice Assessment Scale in addition to other instruments to measure the integration of clients’ religion/spirituality in mental health treatment, has written for numerous academic journals, and her research has been featured in the Washington Post, Consumer Affairs, Religion News Service, and more. She also co-hosts the weekly podcast, CXMH: Christianity & Mental Health and lives in Waco, TX with her family.
Feb
1
2021
Voices: Justice looks like antiracism
The white church in America is learning racism is not merely about our individual actions and decisions.

As a civil human being—more so as a child of God—we know better than to be racist, than to do racist things. In fact, in our effort not to be racists, we work hard to talk as though race doesn’t exist. Being colorblind was the way to be nonracist, we were taught. I suppose it meant if we didn’t see race, we couldn’t perpetuate it or contribute to racism.
Dec
17
2020
‘Cultural humility’ fosters a lifelong self-examination of racism
The work of identifying racist attitudes and behaviors is not only uncomfortable, but also never-ending, said Kerri Fisher, a lecturer and diversity educator at Baylor University.

Recognizing white privilege and oppressive social systems isn’t enough to sustain “cultural humility,” said Fisher, co-chair of the Race Equity Work Team in Baylor’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.

“There are always new ways to be unjust, so we have to always be learning,” she said.

“Cultural humility” describes an ability to critically self-reflect on the existence of cultural differences and impacts on marginalized groups with the goal being to build relationships with those groups, she explained.
Dec
9
2020
Baylor social work, physics profs recognized as Undergraduate Research Mentors of the year
One point that often gets lost in the academic debate of teaching versus research is that research, at its best, is teaching. Baylor’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award — presented each year by Baylor Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) — aims to recognize those who exemplify that by mentoring undergraduate students in a research setting.

This year’s honorees? Dr. Stephanie Boddie from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, and Dr. Lorin S. Matthews (BS ’94, PhD ’98) from the Department of Physics.
Nov
12
2020
Exploring the Mental Health Impact of Aging Women
Through the expansion medical care and technological advances, the lifespan of older adult women has progressively increased. According to the National Vital Statistics Reports of the U.S., in the year 2017, the national average of female life expectancy is the age of 81. Compared to the 1920s, female life expectancy was the age of 54. Older adult women are living longer and are experiencing the world through many significant changes throughout the lifespan. They experience milestones of struggles, hardships, love, and laughter throughout their lifetime that is monumental to their well-being.
Nov
12
2020
Falling Seed: How to walk alongside people recovering from addiction
As we wait for healing and solutions to the distress of the coronavirus pandemic, we seek revival like the people of God sought during the time of the prophets.

We desperately search for stories of God working, despite the little we have or the sickness we are trying to understand.

How is the church responding? How should the church respond? Who are the prophets of our time, and how are they responding to the call of God?

Congregations around the country are seeking to answer these questions in new and unique ways. In Waco, as elsewhere, many institutions have responded to COVID-19, seeking fresh ways to love their neighbor like Christ would have us do.
Nov
12
2020
The Gift of Self-Care to Yourself and Others
Amidst the busyness of life, it can be hard to take time for yourself, let alone get the care you need. In this interview, Holly Oxhandler provides insight on the importance of self-care and the best ways to cultivate it for yourself and others during any season.

Holly Oxhandler, Ph.D., LMSW is the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and an Associate Professor at Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. Dr. Oxhandler has studied the intersection of faith and mental health over the last decade and is particularly interested in the degree to which mental health care providers discuss and integrate clients’ religion/spirituality in mental health treatment. She’s also the co-host of CXMH, a weekly podcast on the intersection of faith and mental health, and is currently writing her first book to translate her research on this intersection for everyday helpers.
Nov
12
2020
Voices: Justice looks like tearing down the wall between you and Christ
I was born, raised and now live in El Paso. El Paso is a great place to live if you like to run, and I do. My runs regularly take me up to a place where I can see all three cities and states that adjoin each other here.

A few weeks ago, while on a morning run on my usual route, I noticed two things at a distance I hadn’t realized could be seen from my vantage point.

To the left of my viewpoint was a thick black line in stark contrast to the natural colors of the desert landscape. This is a part of the border wall funded by private donations.

Directly across and above this wall is Mount Cristo Rey, which sits on both sides of the international border between the United States and Mexico. The mountain is named for the statue of Christ located at the top of the mountain.

The figure of Christ stands in front of a giant cross. His eyes gaze out over the borderland, and his arms are outstretched with his palms facing outward over three cities and two nations.

As I thought about this picture—a manmade barrier created to keep people out directly across from a statue of Jesus on Mount Cristo Rey—Christ’s words came to my mind: “For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. … Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:42-43, 45).
Oct
30
2020
Baylor profs leading national & international academic journals
No matter your relationship to higher education, there’s a good chance you’re aware of the importance of professors getting published. To be published means a professor’s research appears in a peer-reviewed academic journal, having been approved by a group of peer editors and then distributed to a wider academic audience — thus contributing to the body of knowledge within their field.
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