History of Bright Tomorrows

(Dedicated to the Memory of Carol Meeks)

Bright Tomorrows was born in the fall of 1996 when a missionary, Shirley Parrish, returning to Tulsa on leave from Kenya, saw a need through the eyes of her sister, Carol Meeks. Carol, challenged with Bipolar Disorder, benefited from and enjoyed many community services. One of these was an agency called Action House. After meeting many of the consumers there, Shirley discovered they were marginalized from their churches. As she encouraged them from the Scriptures, they became interested In having a Bible study together. She and another member from her home church began studying and meeting weekly with them. Ilah Garton, another volunteer, started a workshop called “Healing of Hurts,” which was a great blessing.

A vision for a lasting Christian mental health ministry began to form. The primary vision included helping area pastors and church workers learn how they could be more effective in ministering to their members who struggle with mental health challenges. Shirley, her husband Millard, and other members of the community began to meet for prayer to seek God’s strategy and gather still others with a heart for this vision. Tim Peterson, a counselor and educator at Laureate Psychiatric Clinic, and Jim Grinnell, an elder at Tulsa Christian Fellowship and trained therapist, were significant in the initial development of the ministry vision from the beginning.

In addition to having her own needs, Carol Meeks had long reached out to others with mental health needs. She was both brilliant and creative. As Carol perused the vision that was developing, the words Bright Tomorrows took root in her heart and quickly became the name and the ‘banner’ for the rising ministry.

In 1998, another organization, Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, led by Chris Beach and Anna Falling, received a prestigious $25,000 grant from the Robert Wood Foundation. Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network and Bright Tomorrows partnered under this grant to help serve low-income mothers with mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, relational, poverty, children, etc.

This partnership established Christian counseling services in an apartment located at Fairmont Terrace Apartments, 61st and Peoria. This carried forward in tandem with the Mend Crisis Pregnancy Center, Evangelistic Temple (currently known as SpiritLife Church), Kick-Smart Soccer program, and other ministries. These groups together offered many services, including individual, group, and family counseling provided by a Master’s level counselor; a mental health support group; a women’s support group; parenting skills training; Bible studies; teachings and prayer; and addiction/co-dependency counseling from a Christian perspective.

In 1999, Bright Tomorrows, adopting permanently the name given by Carol Meeks, incorporated and received a second $25,000 grant from the Robert Woods Foundation and continued its work for two more years at Fairmont Terrace. Carol also envisioned the “Daisy” as the Bright Tomorrows logo. Carol lived her life courageously and passionately. She passed into the presence of her Lord and Savior on March 30, 2021. The legacy she lived included compassion for others, a sense of humor, and an artistic flair. She will be remembered by the founders of Bright Tomorrows as the ministry’s visionary inspiration for existence. The years 1996 to 2001 were clearly the essential conception and gestation years of Bright Tomorrows.

In 2001, Bright Tomorrows approached Tim Reside, a professional pastor with Bipolar Disorder, and asked him to consider becoming the organization’s Executive Director. He and his wife, Nancy, made this a matter of prayer and sought counsel. This led to their acceptance.

Since that time, the ministry of Bright Tomorrows has grown into a community-wide array of services: support groups for persons living with mental health concerns, as well as support-givers and care providers; coaching and consultation services; regular seminars and educational opportunities for ministry leaders; a comprehensive website; and a digital newsletter linking to further resources.

In 2010, as Bright Tomorrows’ vision evolved and wedded with the Reside’s ministry, the Executive Board encouraged Tim and Nancy to boldly lead in the advancement of Bright Tomorrows, both as an organization and as the vehicle of their personal ministry. Unanimously, they voted to install Tim Reside as President of Bright Tomorrows, with Nancy becoming officially appointed to the Board as its Secretary-Treasurer.

As has been recorded here, Bright Tomorrows was born of a vision. As entrusted custodians of that original vision, Tim and Nancy are proceeding to advance the ministry of Bright Tomorrows obediently and fruitfully according to the calling upon their lives.

“Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry’” (Habakkuk 2:2-3).