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Making mental health service more convenient

John Manz; photo provided by LSS

In Medieval Europe, the spires of cathedrals were the highest point on the horizon. No matter where one was in a village or town, it was always clear where assistance for the journey could be found.
For 23 years, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) has provided mental health care in cooperation with Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. John Manz, who holds a Master of Divinity degree and is a licensed, masters-degreed mental health professional, is a resident therapist on Mondays from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The location is on a bus line. The office is separate from the church office so that people can come and go in anonymity. Virtually all insurance plans can be utilized.
Across the metro area, three additional Lutheran churches have also recently become part of LSS’ service delivery of mental health care through congregations and their local communities. Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids now offers individual, couple, and family counseling on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. The office is staffed by Duane Bjerke, a masters-degreed mental health professional who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist.
On Thursdays, Bjerke also provides service at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, where clinic hours are 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
At St. Andrew Lutheran in Eden Prairie, Thomas Johnson, a licensed clinical psychologist who holds a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D., is now responding to mental health requests on Tuesdays.

Thomas Johnson; photo provided by LSS

“We are very pleased to co-locate our mental health counseling services in these churches where we provide child, individual, family, and couple therapy for members of these congregations as well as the community,” explained Debra Martin-Schloer, LSS clinical director. “Our on-site therapists also serve as resources for parish teams and collaborate with them to provide educational and supportive programs. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve in congregations and make mental health services more convenient and accessible.”
Churches continue to provide assistance for the journey. For more information, call the LSS counseling intake office at 612/879-5320 or visit

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