Connecticut pastors take icy plunge for mental health

What would prompt two Connecticut pastors to go jump in the lake on a frigid March day?

Taking the plunge was their way to raise both resources and awareness for mental health care and suicide prevention.

The Rev. Todd Shipley of Unity Hill United Church of Christ and the Rev. Tim Hare of Trumbull Congregational Church ran into the icy waters of Pinewood Lake on St. Patrick’s Day, along with five other determined souls, to benefit a local non-profit.

Rev. Todd Shipley (black shorts, far left) and Rev. Tim Hare (green shorts, third from left) join others in the Pinewood Lake plunge for a photo after they jumped the lake on March 17. (Photo by Karen Frissora)

My Friend Abby awards grants to young people who seek funding for mental health initiatives that facilitate positive peer-to-peer connections,” Shipley said. “Given the rise in mental health struggles, especially among teens, the partnership was a no-brainer.”

Rev. Hare and his daughter after the plunge.
(Photo by Karen Frissora)

Hare came up with idea a few years back when COVID social distancing measures were still in place. Trumbull Congregational offered up a polar plunge as part of an online auction and fundraising event. Shipley said that when the minimum bid of $75 was reached pretty quickly, “Tim realized that he undersold the idea. He asked me to join him, and the two of us began begging for more money.”  

This is the third time Shipley and Hare partnered in what the Trumbull, Conn., community calls the “Pastors’ Plunge.” On March 17, with temps in the 40s, the group of seven immersed themselves in Pinewood Lake, with about 50 supporters watching and cheering them on. The event raised close to $5,000.

“For some reason people seemed happy to send their pastors into the icy water,” Shipley said.

The Revs. Shipley and Hare (fourth and fifth from left) with other My Friend Abby supporters at Pinewood Lake.
(Photo by Karen Frissora)

“We anticipate a long partnership with My Friend Abby and we look forward to building a fun event in town that creates community and generates much needed support, especially for our young people.”  

Content on is copyrighted by the National Setting of the United Church of Christ and may be only shared according to the guidelines outlined here.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

Related News

Churches for Middle East Peace: Ceasefire only way to prevent further death and destruction

The following statement was issued Dec. 2 by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which...

Read More

Abolition Advent Calendar offers reflections, practices to support freedom for all bodies

Now that Advent is here, prepare for some movement. This year’s Abolition Advent Calendar...

Read More

At U.N. commemoration, Makari condemns ongoing human rights violations against Palestinians

On a day marked for international solidarity with Palestinian people, the United Church of...

Read More