McHENRY – A well-known pastor, the Rev. Jim Swarthout, was hired by the mental health agency Rosecrance for outreach work in local and regional churches.
Swarthout, 58, joined Rosecrance’s marketing team in a full-time, paid position. He will offer mental health resources to congregations in the northern Illinois from Winnebago County to Lake Michigan.
The position was tailor-made for Swarthout, Rosecrance spokeswoman Judy Emmerson said. He started in October and will be based at the Rosecrance McHenry County site in McHenry.
“He’s approaching his work in a nondenominational sense,” Emerson said. “He will make himself available to clergy, assisting priests and pastors in a variety of senses – as a consultant, offering guidance as needed, acting as a liaison to the services that Rosecrance offers, or to assist the pastors as they are doing their work.”
Because his new role would have been a conflict of interest, Swarthout in September resigned from the McHenry County Mental Health Board, where he served as a director for three years. The County Board will appoint someone to fill Swarthout’s seat.
Besides his longtime experience as an Episcopal priest for the Diocese of Chicago, Swarthout has credentials in social work and addictions counseling. His service as a priest for more than 27 years includes ministry to parishes in Crystal Lake, Algonquin, McHenry, West Dundee and Rockford.
He also recently was appointed to the Governor’s Mental Health Services Strategic Planning Task Force. He will co-chair the task force’s Children and Adolescent Committee, which is developing a five-year plan to improve access to mental health care for children.
“We saw the needs in the community for mental health services increase, but our ability to provide those services has decreased,” Swarthout said.
Swarthout is the founder of the St. Paul Diaper Bank in McHenry, and formerly served on the Youth Service Bureau board of directors.