A Brief History of Companionship

The Model of Companionship was developed in 1987 on the streets of Seattle as a ministry of outreach to persons who were living in homeless and struggling with serious mental health issues by Rev. Craig Rennebohm. Over the last 30 years through the Mental Health Chaplaincy and Pathways to Promise, Companionship has been disseminated throughout the Seattle metropolitan area, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and North Carolina.

Rev. Craig Rennebohm, creator of The Companionship Model.

June 26, 2018

I am very grateful for your continuing support of Pathways.

In anticipation of your meeting this week Jermine, I want to offer my support for the companionship training vision he will be sharing with you. Jermine is absolutely the right person to be taking this effort forward. His experience with growing Mental Health First Aid from its beginnings to a thriving nation-wide program is invaluable. His understanding of today’s media tools and adult education principles is vital in maximizing the effectiveness of training a large cadre of Companionship trainers. I especially appreciate his commitment to making Companionship training available to the widest possible audience, and finding ways to include a broad representation of faith community leaders as Companionship trainers.

This effort will go well beyond the dozen national faith groups that have been Pathways’ base. The regional approach is a vehicle that will engage a growing number of the 300,000 plus congregations across this country. The model calls for trainers to be equipped to do informational outreach, build interest across their communities and encourage congregations hosting trainings to invite their neighbors.

Seattle and St. Louis are two regional hubs where Companionship training and champions are ready to build out new generations of Companionship trainers. Seeds have been planted with potential trainers and regional partners in other communities where Pathways consultants have been active. A May retreat created an excellent draft “train the trainer” curriculum and support resources. We have answered key questions about sustainability, accountability and fidelity to the basic Companionship model.

The Companionship Instructor Program will enable Pathways to reach into a wide range of church networks – emerging churches, non-denominational congregations and an ever- widening range of faith groups in diverse communities.

I look forward to helping with the initial regional “train the trainer,” programs. What a joy in this next year to welcome the first national class of Pathways’ Companionship trainers. Blessing in your conversation and discernment.