The Congregational Collective was founded by the H. E. Butt Foundation in 2023 as a 501(c)(3) public charity to support a strategic goal that people with mental health challenges would find community and support from local faith communities without stigma. This goal arose from knowledge that a high percentage of people struggling with mental health turn to a clergy member ahead of a mental health professional, even though most clergy members do not feel equipped to meet the need.
Mental Health reform has been important to the Butt family for three generations that began in 1955 when Mary Holdsworth Butt was asked to serve on the State’s MHMR Board of Directors. Her leadership affected many reforms and spanned nearly three decades and six governors.
In 1961, Laity Lodge was constructed on the Foundation’s Real County property along the Frio River. It was built as a tool for Howard Butt, Jr.’s ministry, which was born out of a depressive condition that made it difficult for him to continue his bi-vocational role as a leader at H-E-B and lay preacher. Laity Lodge has a 60-year tradition of integrating human relationships and theology through small group convening. Mr. Butt’s lay witness approach and his willingness to be honest about his own experiences have created space for openness and honesty about human struggle and, unknowingly, contributed to the de-stigmatization of mental illness with a traditionally unopen religious sector.
In 2017, Deborah and David Rogers, the current leaders of the Foundation, engaged in a visioning and strategic planning process in preparation for their legacy of leadership. They wanted to ensure that the Foundation would be well positioned to expand its societal impact in a way that built upon its history and mission without over-burdening the programming in the Frio Canyon. Mental health and wellness are of particular interest to them because the need is tremendous, and it connects the interest of every family generation. They have focused their strategies on upstream supports and prevention.
Before establishing The Congregational Collective, the Foundation commissioned two mental health faith studies to better understand the current climate in San Antonio. Additionally, a strategic planning process that engaged community members across the faith and mental health sector helped determine the value and need a relational technical support role in San Antonio.