Need Help? Weimar Institute’s Total Community Involvement Transforms Lives

How do you change the world? For students and staff at Weimar Institute, it’s one pile of leaves raked, one dish washed, and one conversation at a time.

In August 2017, Weimar launched its Total Community Involvement (TCI) program. Based on the world church’s Total Member Involvement (TMI), this plan called for students, staff and interested friends on the elementary, academy and college levels to set aside one weekday afternoon a week to meet needs in the local community.

What is TCI?

According to TCI Coordinator Narlon Edwards, TCI is “practical Christ-like evangelism that reaches the physical as well the mental and spiritual needs.  You want to reach the felt needs first.  Basically, it’s modeling after Christ when He went about doing good and utilizing His methods.”

“At first, it was called Total Campus Involvement, but we realized that if our campus was directly and totally involved in the community, it would create a connection, a new community of sorts so it’s now called Total Community Involvement,” clarified Edwards.


The idea originated when Weimar Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor Don Mackintosh who is also the Religion department chair, realized he didn’t know his neighbors very well and they didn’t know him…or his church very well. Inspired by the TMI program, he brought the idea to Weimar Institute administrators and TCI was born.

In the spring of 2017, Edwards was tapped to lead this new initiative. As a Weimar Health Evangelism And Leadership Training for Him (HEALTH) program graduate and experienced evangelist, Edwards first prayed and brainstormed with Mackintosh and Weimar administrators. He then began connecting with local community leaders. Rather than assuming what was needed, “we listened and learned,” noted Edwards.  “By collaborating with them from the beginning, we learned what the actual needs were. Rather than giving them what we thought they needed, we learned what their true needs were and went in with that mindset and that made a huge difference,” he added.

Initial Responses

The initial response from these leaders was not only favorable, but enthusiastic. The thought of freely offered help was unbelievable for some so a tentative list of community projects was started, but the intent of TCI was to primarily to be one-to-one connections and relationship-building.

In contrast, the reaction on campus was reluctant and even resistant. When the idea was first shared in the spring, students and staff were concerned about the impact on academics. Adjusting the academic schedule to free up one afternoon a week equaled lost classroom, study and work time in the minds of many. Some students left. Others returned the Fall semester, but were skeptical. Some staff wondered if an untested program that might be temporary was worth the risk.

“It was pretty difficult,” admitted Edwards. “We had a lot of faculty and students who were against it.” Rather than being discouraged by these reactions, Edwards felt it showed the great need for a program like TCI. “I think it was good because the fact that they were reluctant shows how much Weimar needed it. If a person has to be sold on evangelism, it’s an indication of how much they need evangelism. It’s kind of like exercise or anything else. Sometimes you don’t realize what you’re missing until you start doing it,” he commented.

The Beginning

The program officially launched in August 2017 at an event of Adventist and community leaders. Ted Wilson, world church president, was a featured speaker and noted that TCI was an innovate approach to reaching one’s community.

After the launch, TCI leaders went to work. Students were assigned to TCI groups with each group consisting of a student leader, staff, and students with varied backgrounds such as nursing, religion and education. In this way, they created a complete unit so to better meet community needs.

From the first TCI meeting, prayer was and remains the foundation. The group spent the first few weeks praying for God’s direction and that he would connect them with those in need. They also rotated through health expo and Bible study training. In addition, they worked on campus beautification and trail improvement projects to connect as a team and begin to utilize each other’s strengths in the team. Then, they head out into the adventure God had waiting for them.


The Reality

The area surrounding Weimar Institute is rural so many needs involved chopping wood, clearing overgrown yards, or raking piles of leaves. The lack of enough tools such as chainsaws, edgers, leaf blowers, and other yard maintenance tools has been a challenge for the groups. However, they improvised and rejoiced over unexpected donations such as the leaf blower donated by a man whose yard had been cleared by a TCI group. “He was so impressed by the group’s work and so when he discovered he had an extra leaf blower, he wanted us to have it,” shared John Peacock, one of Weimar’s Natural Science professors and member of the TCI group that worked on the yard.

Community Impact

Requests began to trickle. Someone needed help decluttering a home. Another needed help moving. Still another just need someone to listen. TCI activities have included painting parking lot lines at a community non-profit group, singing and literature distribution during a Christmas parade, hosting a Christmas concert on campus, decorating store windows for Christmas, an orchestra performance at a homeless shelter, cooking demonstrations, tutoring at a local school, and offering a children’s health expo among many other projects. However, it is still the individual contacts that make up the bulk of TCI’s focus.

Community leaders and previously helped individuals are spreading the word about TCI. It is now common for Edwards to receive a phone call that begins something like this: “I heard you folks are the ones to call if you need help.”

Meeting needs has gone beyond yards and homes and has begun reaching heart needs and creating more permanent changes. Nora* is one such example. She initially asked for TCI help with her yard. During the visit, Edwards befriended her and stayed in contact. With his HEALTH background, he noticed her two-packs-a-day smoking habit. After a time, he asked if she had ever wanted to stop smoking. She was interested so he gave her stop-smoking tips and shared two books on the subject. She focused on the Bible text he shared: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and quit cold-turkey. “She is now studying her Bible every day. The amazing thing is that even though she smoked two packs of cigarettes for 40 years, she had not withdrawal symptoms! She credits the Bible and prayer uplifted for her,” explains Edwards.


Campus Impact

The tangible results of TCI have been easy to see and hear in the community with cleared yards, tidy homes and the appreciation from individuals and leaders. However, the impact of TCI on campus has gradually become clear.

Students who were the most vocal in their resistance are now advocates. Staff who were concerned now promote the benefit of the program. Overall, TCI has transformed Weimar this past year.

Staff such as Lenora Follett, Nursing department chair share, “It was difficult for nursing students to make the time commitment for TCI every week, but there were amazing rewards for being involved.” Other comments include:

Seeing how God worked through the students and myself increased my faith that God is wanting to use each one of us in His work.

As I’ve seen God opening doors for us, my faith has been strengthened.

This has renewed my interest in certain topics that I had not discussed or considered for some

Interaction with struggling people in the community has increased my empathy towards them and caused me to study more to establish the reasons for my faith.


As for the students, they shared via a recent survey such comments as:

At first I was hesitant about committing a whole afternoon a week to outreach. I was afraid my schooling would suffer. there were indeed times when I did not get sufficient study time but I learned to put my trust in God and He did take care of it.

Taking my focus off my own problems has indeed helped me gain victory over them. Putting my attention on the needs of others, my own problems seemed more small and conquerable.

Going out and doing ministering to others not only took up literal time in our week but also in our minds and allowed me personally to not focus on my own life and its concerns but on those of others.

I realize more and more that God wants to heal people through all that we’re doing in TCI, whether that’s Health Expos, cooking schools or yard work. After meeting one man …… and hearing brief updates about him, I feel like I am being allowed to see a glimpse into someone’s future by being able to interact with them on a personal level.

Hearing the TCI testimonies every Wednesday evening has shown me that God strategizes and sets up encounters to change people’s lives. And if He would go that far for someone, why wouldn’t He do that for me too?

 Every time TCI happens, I feel like God has lessons not only for the people in whom I am reaching out to, but also myself. I trust God more than I have in my entire life.

I have realized that I cannot share what I do not have myself.

The more work I do for God, the more I see my true spiritual condition and my need of Christ. This drives me to a more deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus.

Edwards agrees, “Students have said to me that they realized that they can’t do this kind of work unless they are converted themselves. I’ve seen their relationships with Christ transformed.”


The Future

Community members are now used to the neon green shirts “Need Help?” shirts the TCI groups wear each week.  “Community leaders are now calling us to solve problems in the community.   So are individuals,” shared Edwards. One woman tearfully told Edwards, “Weimar is now my husband because they do the things for me that my husband, who passed away a year ago, used to do for me.”

TCI was officially paused for the summer since the majority of students were away. However, the students who remained have continued to visit their contacts, not because they felt they had to or because it was for their contacts’ sakes, but because they’ve developed a true connection with them.

Edwards sees this as a natural outgrowth of TCI. “The blessing of this program is that it is not event-based, so we can always be coming up with new ways to building relationships. The relationships developed are not for just on earth, but for eternity.  As we say, the goal is the soul – not just of those we meet, but of our staff and students. That is our focus: eternal relationships. We are going to make it a way of life, the life-blood of Weimar,” he noted.

This was the ultimate goal of TCI: To create a community of connectedness through Christ that transforms everyone involved. This is what changes the world bit-by-bit. This is true Total Community Involvement.




Reprinted and expanded with permission from the Inside ASI Summer 2018 issue.

Lifespan Development (3 Credits)

From conception to old age, this course explores focuses on the biological, psychological, and social developmental issues and milestones for each stage of the lifespan, paying particular attention to the aspects of context, culture, and environmental issues. Topics include, but are not limited to: parenting style (child guidance), social contexts, social stress, poverty, low educational attainment, abuse and neglect, gender and family issues salient to relationships, separation, nontraditional and blended families and inadequate housing and how these affect development. Issues of aging and long-term care are included.

Moral Identity and Faith as a Counselor (3 Credits)

This course explores the formation of the student therapist’s identity as a counselor within the framework of Christianity and how this plays out in a secular world of counseling. This course presents philosophical and ethical perspectives integral to the understanding of the contemporary psychologies. Students learn how to analyze the ethical bias of psychotherapeutic psychologies, identify their underlying philosophical assumptions, and develop an appreciation for the moral components in individual, marital, and family identity formation. Also included will be a workshop to enhance spiritual development.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Basic Theories and Skills (3 Credits)

This course develops an understanding of the major theoretical orientations used by current practitioners, focusing on systemic approaches. Theories provide a coherent framework for understanding how people change. This course will highlight the Biblical understanding of how change takes place. This course covers the concepts and techniques associated with the primary theories of counseling psychology: psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and post-modern; in contrast with wholistic counseling techniques. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, limitations, and outcome research associated with each concept. The course also highlights cultural and spiritual diversity as it applies to the therapeutic process and awareness of the self, interpersonal issues, and spiritual values as they impact the use of theoretical frameworks. This course also introduces the student to basic skill in attending behavior, clinical interviewing and clinical intervention. Finally, this foundational course clarifies key issues in human nature and prepares the student for developing a worldview that is consistent with their theological and spiritual orientation.

Advanced Counseling Theory (3 Credits)

This course will examine several individuals, and family approaches for counseling. The development of specific behavioral, cognitive, humanistic/experiential, psychodynamic and systemic frameworks will be deconstructed. Student will distinguish Christian approach of addressing individual and family concerns. Students will be involved in experiential activities designed to relate the observation, demonstration and practice to research-based explanations. In this course, we will consider how each approach is used in clinical, school, and marriage and family counseling applications. Training in the use of the therapeutic relationship will be a focus for understanding and intervening with clients.

Group Processes in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of group counseling with children, adults, families, and couples. The course focuses on basic group counseling theory including therapeutic group factors, stages of group development, and principles of commonly accepted and research-based group interventions. The course will cover different types of groups, such as support, psycho-educational, and process groups; the tasks, skills, and qualities of effective group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups, group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups. Importance is placed on responsibilities and skills and cultural considerations. Emphasis on small and large group processes and involvement in experiential activities is designed to relate the clinical process to theoretical explanations. Throughout, there is an emphasis on group work within community mental health settings.

Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 Credits)

This course provides an understanding of the broad range of childhood and adolescent problems and maladjustment behaviors. A variety of psychotherapeutic modalities are presented, providing the student with an opportunity to develop knowledge of basic child and adolescent therapy skills, assessments, and treatment strategies. The impact of the development aspects, family dynamics, social environments, and multicultural issues are addressed. In addition, legal and ethical issues and the role of hospitalization are considered.

Addictions Counseling and Treatment (3 Credits)

This course covers the prevention, assessment, and treatment of substance abuse/dependence, behavioral addictions, and co-occurring conditions. Theories of etiology, populations at risk, and the role of persons and systems in supporting or compounding abuse/addiction are discussed. The course reviews the cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurological effects of psychoactive drug use and the impact of addiction on the family system. Best practices for the screening, assessment, and treatment of addictions and co-occurring behaviors are covered as well as community resources for individuals and family members. Additional focus will be placed on developing understanding of Recovery Oriented Care, social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position, and cultural awareness and competencies.

Counseling Diverse Populations (3 Credits)

This course focuses on the intersection and convergence of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, religion, acculturation, and chronological age and how these inform effective mental health care. The goal is to increase awareness of multiple dimensions of diversity in order to prepare students to work sensitively and effectively with California’s multi-cultural population. Attention also is given to issues of privilege, marginality, and oppression, including sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, and heterosexism. Theoretical perspectives on multicultural counseling will be examined as well as strategies for intervention and advocacy. This course will focus on eliminating biases, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination. Throughout, effective strategies for communicating about emotionally charged material is emphasized.

Couples and Family Counseling: Post-Modern (3 Credits)

This course continues the study of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals, couples, and families using interactional and brief models. This course provides advanced training in the theories and techniques of modern and post-modern schools of family therapy including Cognitive Behavioral, Behavioral, Solution-Focused, and Narrative Therapy. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, outcome research, and limitations associated with each theory. Specific family issues addressed include: transition to parenthood, parenting young and school-age children, household division of labor, and blended families. Throughout, careful attention is paid to the historical and cultural context in which the theories were developed and the implications for working with diverse populations in recovery-oriented community mental health settings.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Advanced Techniques (3 Credits)

This course is designed to further develop the psychotherapeutic skills of students prior to their entry into a clinical placement. Students focus on developing proficiency in the core interviewing qualities, deriving goals for a clinical session, and in making contracts with clients for change. Additionally, students are encouraged to begin developing a theoretical and conceptual understanding of cases and trained to work with diverse populations. Students are also encouraged to address issues regarding the integration of their faith with the practice of psychotherapy.

Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3 Credits)

This course examines the application of psychological instruments to the assessment of individuals, couples, and families. Fundamentals of psychological assessment are reviewed including standardized and non-standardized testing approaches, basic statistical concepts, and moral, ethical and cultural considerations in assessment. The course will also provide an overview of issues related to cognitive assessment, achievement, aptitude, and neuropsychological assessment. Emphasis will also be on clinical, behavioral, and personality assessment.

Knowing God Better Through Career Development: Theories and Techniques (3 Credits)

This course prepares students to address the intersections of career, values, and life roles in the context of career counseling and responding to career and work-related issues

for majority and marginalized groups. Students will gain core knowledge of major career development theories; examine the implications of sociocultural factors on career development, work transitions, and the career counseling process; gain experience with career counseling assessments and resources; and become familiar with current career development literature.

Crisis and Trauma Counseling (3 Credits)

Students will develop a foundation for assessing and treating post-trauma reactions in adults along with an overview of trauma responses in children. We will begin by reviewing the variety of trauma populations followed by in-depth instruction on the mechanism of development major trauma concerns. The assessment and intervention of post-trauma conditions will be identified. Next, we will address clinical interventions including disaster mental health and exposure-based treatment. Finally, we will review issues affecting therapists working with trauma populations and self-care strategies to prevent compassion fatigue.

Research and Evaluation in Counseling (3 Credits)

The goal of this course is to enable students to become informed consumers of psychological research and to use current research knowledge and tools to improve treatment outcomes. Students will explore methods and issues associated with the conduct and use of research concerning phenomena relevant to counseling psychology. The course provides an overview of hypothesis generation, research design, data collection and interpretation, and utilization of research findings in clinical practice, while considering systemic and sociocultural influences. Students will review seminal research findings including research on specific treatments and common factors across treatments that improve therapy outcome. The course also provides students with assessment tools for evaluating mental health programs and the effectiveness of one’s own clinical practice. Emphasis is given to helping students become knowledgeable consumers of research, including the use of research to inform evidence-based practice.

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Fulfills the California Board of Behavioral Sciences requirement for surveying the use of pharmacological agents in patient care. This course provides a basic overview of neurobiology in order to understand the biological bases of behavior and the psychopharmacological treatment of mental disorders. The course includes information about commonly prescribed psychiatric medications for children and adults – indications, contraindications, mechanisms of action, side effects, drug-drug interactions, iatrogenics, and variability related to age, gender, ethnicity, and medical condition. Students will learn how to work cooperatively and effectively with clients, family members, and prescribing clinicians. Additionally, controversies related to the medical model and to specific prescribing practices will be explored.

Psychopathology & Diagnostic Processes (3 Credits)

This course examines the major types of psychopathology. It explores techniques of intake interviewing and determining mental status to formulate a differential diagnosis based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students will also recognize and understand the controversial history of the development of the DSM. The

course also includes a critical examination of the clinical and experimental literature in psychopathy. Etiologies of cognitive/affective functions and dysfunctions and implications for therapeutic intervention are also addressed.

Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy (3 Credits)

This course will provide students with an understanding of human sexual development with a particular focus upon sexuality counseling from a systems perspective. The goal of this course is to learn about the many facets of human sexuality and the treatment of sexual dysfunctions in a safe and respectful environment. Topics include the physiology, psychology, and sociology of sexuality, including the effects of sexual attitudes and functioning on individuals and families. Gender Identity and LGBTQ and sexual perspectives will be reviewed. Clinical applications, including the treatment of sexual difficulty and dysfunction will also be explored. Students will develop familiarity with the language and terms of sexology and demonstrate an ability to apply this knowledge to clinical situations. Finally, students will explore the above with a framework of Christian compassion and love, exploring how God created sex to be beneficial. A review of AIDS, HIV, and STDs will be given.

Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to the practice of LPCC and MFT in the state of California. This course focuses on contemporary professional law and ethics and moral dilemmas related to counseling practice. Students review statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws related to the scope of therapy practice, including confidentiality, privilege, reporting requirements, family law, and the treatment of minors. Professional codes of ethics (ACA, AAMFT/ CAMFT, and APA) will be reviewed. California law that is relevant to the practice of counseling will be examined including goals and objectives of professional organizations, standards of training, licensure, and the rights and responsibilities of professional counselors. Case examples will be discussed. Consideration is also given to the student practitioner’s values and behaviors, especially in relation to becoming a Christian therapist.

Practicum in Counseling (6, 3 per term)

The purpose of this course is to develop counseling competencies when working with a variety of clients with unique presenting concerns. Specifically, the focus will be on your ability to engage your clients in treatment, establish a working alliance, identify dysfunctional patterns, and use either general strategies or ECBIS strategies to facilitate change. You will work toward the development of a personally acceptable and professionally effective style of establishing and working in helping relationships. We will work toward helping you to examine your behaviors and rationales and to modify for greater effectiveness.

Course Prerequisites:
This is the terminal course for the program and will run concurrently with a weekly seminar that will address issues in counseling practice.