Christopher Rakestraw

An Educational Intervention to Engage Predominantly White Churches in Racial Justice Work

Mr. Rakestraw is currently a Child and Family Therapist at LifeSpring Health Systems, a community mental health center in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He also serves as a Part-Time Instructor at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work. Mr. Rakestraw is in the final semester of a Doctor of Social Work program at the University of Kentucky. Professional interests include effective mental health treatment, the integration of spirituality and social work, professional ethics, social welfare policy, and social work theory. Mr. Rakestraw’s presentation will summarize the findings from his Capstone Research Project, An Educational Intervention to Engage Predominantly White Churches in Racial Justice Work.

Mr. Rakestraw has a unique combination of knowledge and skills reflecting his diverse experiences as a social worker, therapist, and minister. Working as a minister of education & youth, a hospital chaplain, mental health therapist, and social work educator has provided expanded perspectives on spirituality and social work. Past administrative responsibilities as a clinical manager, a wraparound access site coordinator, and a local congregational minister also contribute to an understanding of agencies and churches as dynamic organizational systems with potential for growth and also possessing formidable barriers to change.

Mr. Rakestraw earned a Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University Atlanta, a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Master of Social Work from Radford University. He is a licensed clinical social worker in Kentucky and Indiana. Mr. Rakestraw is an active congregant and elder at Beargrass Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky, where he regularly teaches adult classes on topics related to social justice, mental health, and spirituality.

An engaging, thought-provoking presenter, Mr. Rakestraw is excited to share his research. It is hoped that this presentation will add richness to the ongoing discussions within churches and agencies on becoming pro-reconciliation, anti-racist organizations.