top of page

Hillary J. Doerries


Musician + Artist + Mental Health Advocate

Indianapolis native Dr. Hillary Doerries is the Director of Music Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church (ELCA) in South Bend, Indiana, where she directs the Sanctuary Choir, the Alleluia Quartet, the Alleluia Ringers, and Christ the King's contemporary praise ensemble, Xalt! Ms. Doerries is also active in Christ the King's blossoming mental health ministry. A member of CtK's Community Ministry Grant Team, she was instrumental in procuring a $30,000 matching grant from the Center for Congregations in Indianapolis. This grant helped Christ the King develop a series of ministries to address issues of loneliness, isolation, and personal and social wellness in the local community. Ms. Doerries encouraged the team to consider starting a local chapter of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, a weekly support group for people living with mental health diagnoses and their loved ones. In addition to serving as a trained facilitator for Fresh Hope, Ms. Doerries instituted the formation of a Mental Health Ministries Team to ensure that other group facilitators are provided appropriate support for their ministry roles and offered opportunities for continuing education and community partnerships with area mental health professionals. Fresh Hope currently meets at Christ the King on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 - 8:00 PM. All are welcome. 

Ms. Doerries believes that when people share their authentic stories of suffering and loss, they are liberated and empowered to take steps towards understanding, self-awareness, and healing. She writes and speaks publicly about her personal experiences with mental illness and her own continuing journey toward wellness. Ms. Doerries travels the country to promote the healing connections between music, liturgy, and community mental health ministry. She presented a lecture entitled All My Hope on God is Founded: Mental Health and Hymns that Heal for an annual conference of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. She later reprised this lecture for the St. Joseph Valley chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In addition, each fall, Ms. Doerries collaborates with SEASONS Counseling of Michiana to create a community hymn festival in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Week. This festival features the musical ensembles of Christ the King Lutheran Church, along with several other performing forces within the community. It is an evening that offers participants opportunities to engage in praying and singing our laments together as neighbors and friends with the hope of healing, recovery, and wellness. 

Ms. Doerries received her musical training at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, earning double Bachelor of Music degrees in Organ and Vocal Performance. Her voice teachers included Patricia Stiles and Patricia Havranek. In 2011, she completed her Master of Music in Organ and Church Music, studying organ under Dr. Marilyn Keiser, Mr. Todd Wilson, and Dr. Jeffrey Smith. During her graduate school years, she was Dean of the IU-Bloomington Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, worked as an accompanist for the Indiana University Children's Choir under Ruth Boshkoff and Dr. Brent Gault, and held church music positions in Bedford, Speedway, and Indianapolis. 

In 2022, Ms. Doerries earned her Doctor of Pastoral Music (DPM) degree through the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Her dissertation, We Will Hold Onto You: The Liberating Power of Music and Liturgy to Break Open Stories of Mental Illness in Communities of Faith, and her ongoing research into the theology of mental health continues to inform her understanding of her role as a pastoral musician.

Ms. Doerries is a member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM), the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. In her free time, Ms. Doerries is an avid painter. She also enjoys journaling, gardening, and exploring beautiful Lake Michigan.

© 2023 by Hillary J. Doerries

bottom of page