3 June 2020  |

Pastor Emil Peeler couldn’t stand by and do nothing. Too many people, especially in the African American community, were being ignored and needed their voices to be heard–to be understood and met with empathy. Recognizing the lack of available assistance for mental health in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., Peeler, the Capitol Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Allegheny East Conference worked to bring help to the community. 

So in 2017, a plan was put into action, and by October 2019 the Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center (CHCARC) opened up across the street from the Capitol Hill Church. The non-profit, evidence-based facility hosts clinically licensed counseling and therapy professionals who strive to “provide the highest quality system of care to ensure safety, restore emotional wellness, build client sustainability and enhance quality of life” with a Christian perspective. 

Individualized plans, and the choice of on-site or at-home therapy are tailored to better meet the needs of its clients.

An Urban Center of Influence, which is designed to follow Jesus’ holistic method of ministry, is co-sponsored by the North American Division and operates out of the CHCARC. Urban Centers of Influence “feature a wide variety of activities such as lifestyle education, treatment rooms, bookstores, reading rooms, restaurants, literature ministry, lectures, small groups, instruction on preparing wholesome food, and more. The activities of each center vary depending on an accurate assessment of local community needs.”

Although they could sit back and enjoy watching the CHCARC at work, Peeler and Capitol Hill Church congregants keep their helping hands in the mix by offering weekly lunches to the homeless, visiting nursing homes once a month, running a prison ministry team, and operating other quarterly/annual events which bring hope and support to the Capitol Hill neighborhoods. 

As COVID-19 restrictions disrupt the usual flow, pastors, staff, and church members remain vigilant in prayer and financial giving. Currently, Sabbath School lessons, divine service, prayer and Bible studies take place online as the church office team works remotely to ensure everyone’s safety. Meanwhile, CHCARC offers telehealth sessions via phone and video calls.

To learn more about the Capitol Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Capitol Hill Counseling and Resource Center, and Urban Centers of Influence, visit the following websites: