A Christ-Centered Community Committed to Cultivating Mental Health Opportunities through:

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Serving Montgomery County, Illinois & the surrounding area

Recent News

Let’s Taco ’Bout Mental Health At May Walk

By Mary Herschelman Hillsboro Journal-News

Forty people dressed in warm clothes stand outdoors on concrete behind white lunch bags lit from within with electric candles, all the bags arranged in the shape of a ribbon twist for a cause.

Nearly 50 supporters laced up their tennis shoes for this year’s Cross Over Ministries Mental Health Awareness Walk on Saturday, May 21. The rain held off just long enough for walkers to make the path from the Montgomery County Farm Bureau office to the Hillsboro Veterans Memorial and back. This year’s theme was “Let’s Taco ’Bout Mental Health,” and leading the walk was Lynette Weiss of Cross Over Ministries in her taco costume. After the walk, participants met back downtown for tacos and guest speakers who shared their stories of recovery.

Cross Over Welcomes Carron To The Board

Hillsboro Journal-News

Jennifer Carron, a Montgomery County resident and a graduate of Hillsboro High School class of 2004, has joined Cross Over Ministries’ team as a board member.

Carron has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and she has worked in law, corrections, and probation. Currently, she is a Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC) coordinator for the Macoupin/Montgomery Recovery Council.

“Jen not only brings a wealth of knowledge to share with Cross Over, but a passion for supporting people in their mental health and substance use recovery and wellness journeys,” according to Cross Over board secretary Dawn Young. “We are blessed to have her join our team. We welcome Jen and look forward to building our relationship with her. God continues to bring us people committed to our vision and mission.”

“I am looking forward to working with our community and bringing my personal experience and professional knowledge to help grow opportunities, bring awareness, and reduce stigma towards people with mental health and substance use disorders,” Carron said about the opportunity to be a member of the Cross Over board. “I am a wife, mother, daughter, and sister; and multiple people in my life have experienced mental health or substance use challenges.”

Cross Over Ministries serves Montgomery County and surrounding areas. It is located at 102 N. Main Street, Suite #1, Hillsboro, Illinois. For more information about Cross Over and the programs they offer, visit their website, www.crossovernfp.com or their Facebook page. You may also call them at 217-608-0266.

FROGS for Spring: Second Edition of COM’s Grief Support Newsletter

Cross Over Ministries has published our second issue of our new grief support newsletter called FROGS (Friends Reaching Out—Grief Support)! Look inside for ways to seek hope, forgiveness, and channel loss into purpose; embrace the ups and downs of grieving; and find community in others with shared experience.

Light Shines In Darkness At Cross Over Summit

By Mary (Galer) Herschelman Hillsboro Journal-News

eight amateur actors in costume stand in a line on stage while pews of seated audience watch in attention to a female speaker.

Pictured above, Linda Liebscher of Cross Over Ministries welcomes about 125 to the first-ever mental health summit, Conquering the Mind, held Saturday, March 12, at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church. Behind Liebscher are actors from the musical, “The Master’s Peace,” which was previewed to open the summit.

“I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t know how to live,” drug overdose survivor Sam Anthony Lucania told the crowd of about 125 at the first-ever mental health summit, Conquering the Mind, held Saturday, March 12, at the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church.

Organized by the non-profit group, Cross Over Ministries, the five-hour event was focused on sharing stories of survival and recovery and bringing healing to Montgomery County.

Dawn Young of Cross Over Ministries welcomed everyone to the summit and opened in prayer, before a preview of the musical, “The Master’s Peace,” written by Linda Liebscher of Cross Over Ministries. Many of the performers in the musical have gone through the recovery process and are sharing their story with others.

Before the musical began, Cross Over Ministries volunteers shared statistics that 17 lives were lost in Montgomery County in 2021 to suicide or drug overdose.

Liebscher shared her vision in creating a Christ-centered living room in Montgomery County, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for those facing a mental health crisis. She recognized Marti Coderko for helping to create quilts that will be on the beds in the living room, and offered those present a chance to donate to the program in honor or in memory of someone.

“This is just the beginning, and we’re going to need all of you to make it happen,” Liebscher said.

The summit featured three nationwide speakers, Sam Anthony Lucania, Andy Raines and Sam Eaton, who all shared their story of survival to the group in powerful ways.

In addition to their remarks, local Recovery Support Peers shared five-minute personal testimony throughout the day about their own journey to recovery.

Several other organizations joined Cross Over Ministries in helping to present the summit, including St. Francis Way Clinic, Montgomery County Health Department, Eden’s Glory and Lincoln Land Community College. All had booths set up during the breaks, and there were counselors on hand throughout the summit for anyone who wanted to talk.

Following the presentation of the mental health summit, Cross Over Ministries is planning an event on Thursday, April 7, beginning at 6 p.m. at their home, located at 102 N. Main Street in Hillsboro, just above the Montgomery County Farm Bureau office. The event will focus on making the living room a reality in Montgomery County.

For more information, visit www.crossovernfp.com/index.html

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:5.

young bald man with beard and microphone presents on stage while pews of seated audience watch in attention.

Pictured above, The first of three guest speakers at the Mental Health Summit, Sam Anthony Lucania, shared his story of surviving a drug overdose and finding purpose in life through recovery.

New Program Will Focus On Strengthening Families

For the past two years, Hillsboro Area Hospital has embarked on a mission to bring mental health programming to local children and families, including the Sources of Strength and the Blues Program.

Hillsboro Area Hospital is now pleased to announce a third program will be coming that can reach the county at large called the Strengthening Families Program. Existing and new programming will be supported by the COVID-19 School Wellness Initiative (Illinois) grant awarded through the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation and the Hillsboro Area Health Foundation.

The Strengthening Families Program is a series of group classes for parents and youth between seven to 17 years old that focuses on reducing behavioral, emotional, academic, and social struggles in youth by increasing family resilience, strengthening family relationships, and supporting parenting skills.

Participating families will be asked to engage in 14 weekly sessions. During the weekly sessions, families in the program will have a meal provided for them. In addition, families can take advantage of services to watch little ones so that parents can participate in the program with their older children.

This new resource program is evidence-based, has been tested in both urban and rural communities and is already running in over 35 countries. Support from the community is essential for programs like Strengthening Families to be successful. Bringing this program to Montgomery County would not be possible without collaboration with Cross Over Ministries, which is providing the space and trainers. SIU School of Medicine will also continue to provide support.

For further information about this program contact Lynette Weiss at 217-608-0266. More details may be found online at their dedicated website page.

Cross Over Committed To Conquering

By Tori O’Dell Hillsboro Journal-News

two mid aged women sit on comfortable cozy sofa amidst pillows, books, and a green plant.

Pictured above, Cross Over board members Linda Liebscher and Dawn Young sit in the ministries’ “Living Room,” a safe, inviting place for those in the midst of a mental health crisis. Among the many programs Cross Over Ministries offers, the outreach is gearing up to host a mental health summit on Saturday, March 12.

“Conquering The Mind” is the focus of Cross Over Ministries’ upcoming mental health summit, set for Saturday, March 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Free Methodist Church of Hillsboro.

“I was listening to an interview given by Mandisa Lynn Hundley (a Christian recording artist) where she shared her personal testimony on how she struggles with severe depression, and I just had it laid on my heart that there are so many people in Montgomery County who need to hear others speak openly about their own trials,” said Dawn Young, board secretary and organizer of the upcoming summit. “To me this is not an educational summit in the traditional sense. You aren’t going to learn about specific techniques or practices to manage mental health or substance use challenges. ‘Conquering The Mind’ is really about giving people hope and letting them know that they aren’t alone.”

Centered around Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us,” the summit will feature three main speakers, Sam Anthony Lucania, owner and founder of Sam Anthony Speaks, Sam Eaton, executive director and lead communicator at Recklessly Alive and Andy Raines, an artist with Passion Painter Ministry, who will share their personal experiences with mental health and substance use.

Lucania, a professional speaker, personal trainer, and lifestyle coach in long term recovery from substance use disorder, will share his experiences with drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior, as well as his recovery journey. Eaton is a teacher, author, speaker and the founder of Recklessly Alive, a suicide prevention organization. A suicide survivor himself, Eaton is passionate about helping people tell a better story with their lives. Known as the “passion painter,” Raines will speak about how he uses his unique talent to overcome labels and drug addiction. In addition to speaking at the upcoming summit, Lucania and Eaton plan to share their stories at each of the four high schools in Montgomery County, as well as Carlinville High School.

The summit will also feature the personal testimonies of some of Cross Over Ministries’ Recovery Support Peers. Attendees will be treated to drinks, snacks and lunch, as well as the chance to win attendance prizes. They will also get a sneak peek at “The Master’s Peace,” a musical written by Linda Liebscher, board president of Cross Over Ministries, that examines the meaning of forgiveness, reconciliation, radical change, hope, and grace.

“I don’t know any other way to say it other than that the musical was ‘given to me’ by the Lord, because I have no musical ability whatsoever,” Liebscher said with a self-deprecating laugh. “There were so many people who came alongside me to help put the songs to music because they felt that it is something that really needs to be heard. The majority of the performers are people who are in recovery. The real emphasis is on allowing the community to see that recovery is possible and that they, as community members, can be the ones to help people along the way. People with substance abuse and mental health conditions are in dire need of a community that will surround and love them right where they are at. This doesn’t mean that your life has to be dedicated to eradicating these challenges. It can be as simple as reaching out to someone who is struggling or offering a job to someone in recovery.”

While Cross Over Ministries is acting as facilitator of the summit, several other organizations, including St. Francis Way Clinic, Montgomery County Health Department, Eden’s Glory, and Lincoln Land Community College will set up booths during the event to talk about the many resources that they provide.

“Our mission is always focused on whole-person wellness—helping people heal all areas of their lives—and that is not something we can do alone,” stated Liebscher. “Cross Over is not a one-stop-shop by any matter, which is why we are beyond grateful to partner with so many organizations and businesses within the county.”

Community collaboration and outreach are always at the forefront of the non-profit organization’s goals, which are to not only provide resources for those in the midst of a mental health or substance use crisis but to change the “face” of what is commonly presented as a person who is struggling with any of these issues and help tear down the stigmas surrounding those with mental illnesses.

“Like many small, rural communities we have a lot of negative connotations surrounding mental health and substance use, especially around the individuals who struggle. The lack of knowledge regarding mental health and people with mental illnesses is huge and because of that there are many, many people in our community that suffer alone because they are afraid of being labeled. The brain is an organ in the body, and like any other organ it requires care when under attack,” Young said.

In addition to collaborating with local resources, Cross Over Ministries offers a variety of programs out of their “home,— on the second floor of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau building in Hillsboro. They host the “Winners Circle” a program for people who are involved with the justice system; training Recovery Support Peers; the Living Room, a non-clinical Christ centered intervention program for people in the midst of a behavioral, emotional, or mental health crisis; bible studies; a suicide survivors support group; Al-Anon meetings (from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings), Narcotics Anonymous meetings (on Mondays from 7 to 8 p.m.); Divorce Care; and Second Saturday art programs; as well as providing emergency funding for housing and food.

Cross Over Ministries hopes to offer more suicide prevention and trauma informed care trainings to the community later this year. The educational training sessions center around making community members more aware of what they can do to help reduce the stigma around substance use and mental illness. They are also partnering with Hillsboro Area Hospital to offer an evidence-based program geared towards strengthening families.

“In my opinion one of the greatest things that Cross Over Ministries offers is equipping people who have lived experiences of substance use and mental illness to go out into the community and share their stories of hope while living a purpose-filled life, whatever that looks like to them,” Liebscher concluded. “Our goal is to build a recovery program to heal and embrace those living in the darkness of mental health and substance use, that will be replicated by communities throughout the country. We need leaders, organizations, law enforcement and members of the community from all walks of life to come alongside, because together is the only way we can prevail.”

Those interested may register for the upcoming Conquering The Mind Summit online at www.crossovernfp.com/2022summit.html or by calling 217-608-0266.

Apply to Intern/Work for Cross Over Ministries!

Please submit completed application to Cross Over Ministries, P.O. Box 238, 102 N. Main Street, Suite #1, Hillsboro, IL 62049. If you have any questions, you may call us at 217-608-0266. We will return your call on the first day we are back in the office. (Hours are Tues, Weds, and Thurs from 1pm-6pm.)

Thank you for your interest in becoming a part of the Cross Over Ministries’ (COM) team. Serving in this capacity is an experience that will give you the opportunity to grow in your relationship with the Lord and with others. You will be actively involved in helping people with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders discover their own recovery and wellness journey. You will also be contributing to the vision and mission of COM. Our Board will be relying upon you to give us advice regarding specific goals and the actions required to meet them.

We want you to have a clear understanding of the role you will play in shaping our Ministry and the personal commitment of time for training you will need to make if you become an intern/employee. We also want you to know of our commitment to you. That is why you may find it helpful to review our website (www.crossovernfp.com), this application, and our vision and mission statements.

Your application will be kept confidential and on file with our secretary. It will not be used for any other purpose than to identify and evaluate potential interns/employees. All new interns/employees are voted on by our current Board Members and approved by a 2/3 majority vote.

We welcome any questions you may have prior to completing this application. We pray that the Lord will lead you as you make this important decision to apply to become a part of the Cross Over Ministries’ team.

In His Hope,

The Board of Cross Over Ministries

Cross Over Ministries Discusses QPR Training

Hillsboro Journal-News

woman holds microphone and speaks from podium in front of large presentation screen.

On Monday, Jan. 3, Cross Over Ministries board member Kate Wedekind, pictured above, presented on QPR training to teachers at Litchfield High School. QPR stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer,” three simple steps that can help prevent suicide. QPR training helps teach people how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to get help. For more information about Cross Over Ministries, visit www.crossovernfp.com or follow them on Facebook.

FROGS for Fall: First Edition of COM’s Grief Support Newsletter

Cross Over Ministries has published our first issue of our new grief support newsletter called FROGS (Friends Reaching Out—Grief Support)! Look inside for ways to seek hope and relaxation, honor those we have lost, and find community in others with shared experience.

Survivors of Suicide Stand Together

Hillsboro Journal-News

Forty people dressed in warm clothes stand outdoors on concrete behind white lunch bags lit from within with electric candles, all the bags arranged in the shape of a ribbon twist for a cause.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BROOKS MORELAND

Nearly 50 local residents joined together on Saturday, Nov. 20, in support of suicide survivors. Just before Thanksgiving each year, there’s a day set aside for survivors to come together to find connection, understanding, and hope through shared experiences. This year’s ceremony was held in Shane Cole Park in Nokomis for the second year in a row. Prior to the ceremony, participants were invited to purchase luminaries in memory of those lost to suicide, and their names were read during the ceremony. This year, 45 luminaries were lit, and all proceeds benefit Cross Over Ministries. The ceremony also included a Native American rock and feature ritual, used to bring about healing and hope. Two families in attendance, the Wedekinds and the Singlers, also talked about the new Frogs group, which offers grief support. For more information, contact Cross Over Ministries.

Radio Intervew: AMC with Shawn Balint

WSMI Radio

WSMI Radio’s “Around Montgomery County with Shawn Balint” featured an interview with representatives from Cross Over Ministries on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The fifteen-minute long discussion included an overview of the faith-based organization, current issues and challenges for individuals and community in 2021, breaking the stigma, mental health opportunities for whole person wellness in the local area, and spreading the word and hope about Mental Health Awareness Month.

Pastor Cassie Sexton-Riggs Joins Advisory Council

Cross Over Ministries is delighted to share that Pastor Cassie Sexton-Riggs has joined our Advisory Council. She will be joining Pastor Randy Sands of the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church, Pastor Jeff Hemken of Calvary Baptist Church in Hillsboro and Matt Houser, Principal of Faith Bible Christian Academy in Rosamond.

Pastor Cassie has been the Pastor of the Union Avenue Christian Church in Litchfield since November, 2017. She is also the Secretary of the Litchfield Ministerial Alliance. Her husband, Michael, pastors the Union Avenue Christian Church in St. Louis.

“I believe that being healthy involves spiritual, mental and physical,” Pastor Cassie explained when asked her reasons for becoming a part of Cross Over Ministries. “You can’t truly be healthy without taking care of all three. Mental health is the one we never talk about though because we have been taught it isn’t ‘polite’ and that has contributed to the mental health crisis in our country.”

She went on to share, “The lack of mental health care has a direct correlation between drug and alcohol addiction and suicide. All of these are major issues here in Montgomery County.”

“It will be a privilege to be able to have the Board of COM seek advice and get input from Pastor Cassie,” Linda Liebscher, President of Cross Over Ministries, said. “I have gotten to know her through the Litchfield Ministerial Alliance and I and the rest of the Board along with the other members of the Advisory Council are looking forward to building a strong relationship with her.”

Cross Over Ministries is a Christ-centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities in Montgomery County and beyond. For further information about COM, please visit their website at www.crossovernfp.com or their Facebook page.

Lynette Weiss Cross Over Ministries Newest Board Member

Lynette Weiss joined the team of Cross Over Ministries (COM) as a Board Member at the last meeting on February 16, 2021. Lynette brings a wide variety of experience to the team as a Licensed Professional Counselor, retired Air Force veteran, ministry leader for DivorceCare/DC4K, wife to an amazingly supportive man named Jake, and mother of two through remarriage.

Lynette’s own divorce in 2008 led her to seek a program of care and healing called, Broken Promises, for her and her son, Gary.

“The Program helped my son and me grow closer to God and better understand how to recover from divorce,” Lynette shared. “That is why I am so passionate about the Divorce Care and Divorce Care for Kids Program.”

In 2010, Lynette was deployed to Afghanistan. Amid a blackout base and being the only female from her unit, she remembers a New Year’s Eve that changed her purpose in life.

“I was laying in my bunk silently crying as I listened to bombs detonating nearby and shaking the ground. I prayed that God would send someone for me to talk with, to share my fears and emotions. Unfortunately, there was no one.”

Lynette decided at that moment to pursue a career as a therapist. Upon her return, Jake and Lynette began dating and marriage was discussed. Lynette suggested to Jake and his daughter, Sami, that they attend the Broken Promises program, also. This helped the couple build a firm foundation with God as well as have a more informed understanding of the challenges of divorce and remarriage.

“I am so grateful for my knowledge as a therapist, but I am even more grateful that I can connect with others on a professional level to aid in their healing, Cross Over Ministries will allow me the opportunity to use my passion, my knowledge, and my lived experience to give others hope and encouragement,” Lynette said.

“Lynette has volunteered with COM for almost 2 years. It is a privilege to have her as a Board Member,” said Dawn Young, Secretary of Cross Over Ministries.

“I agree,” Kate Wedekind added. “Lynette will be an integral resource with COM in the supervisory role of the Living Room that will be coming very soon.”

The Living Room will be a non-clinical, recovery-focused resource for anyone struggling with mental health conditions, substance use disorders or life issues.

“All of us are pleased to welcome Lynette to the team. She is so relational and compassionate,” Andrea Ruppert said. “It is a blessing to work alongside of her.”