While recently thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, I came across a newsletter article that I wrote in 2016 about Health Ministries. Since health is usually at the top of my New Year’s resolutions, I thought that it was fitting to begin my 2018 newsletter article with a slightly different approach to health. Even though the term Health Ministries may not be on your radar screen, I believe that one's own personal health and the health ministries of the church are wound together. God’s call to us to be responsible for our own personal health is only a small part of God’s call to us to participate in the health ministries of the life of the church. Terry Tempest Williams, an author and naturalist is quoted as saying: “This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, (I would add sing) eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.”
It occurred to me as I read and re-read this quote that these verbs are the very heart of personal health and the health ministries of a congregation. As we attempt to keep ourselves healthy each day, we live through many or possibly all of the verbs listed above. It is the same with the church. As we grow in our faith and relationship with others in the church we have the opportunity to live our faith through the health ministries of the congregation. But, just what is Health Ministry?
Health ministry has always been a part of the church. It is the work of the church, the answer to the call to healing and to the community, the continuing restorative work of Christ. The congregation becomes the arms and heart of Christ to facilitate healing and restoration to individuals, families and the community and in doing so grows more fully into the expression of our Lord inside and outside the church building. It is intentional ministry for the whole person - mind, body and spirit - individually and communally for all of God’s children. It applies to stewardship for all of life, human and ecological, in the care of one another, the care of creation and the care of self.
The ELCA Southeastern Synod Health Ministries Task Force has identified Health Ministries as:
H Health/Hope: spiritual, physical, mental, social
E Education/Enhancement: Sharing our learning and putting into action
A Access: Programs, resources, communities
L Leadership: Responsibility to community, responsibility for self
T Teach/Touch: Reaching out in relationships, friendship
H Healing: New life, new beginnings
As you look around your church do you see a congregation of individuals expressing their faith through actions not only within the congregation but also throughout the community. Do any of the verbs above describe and/or help you to explore your role in the health ministries of your church? What is your role? Is there a place within the church where your talents could be used to enhance the health of the congregation and the community? Are you doing all that you can not only to enhance your own health but to also be an active participant in the health ministries of your congregation, the Southeastern Synod or the larger Lutheran Church community? Put your health and your participation in your congregational health at the top of your New Year’s resolutions for 2018.
Happy New Year!
Cornelia Pearson, RN, MN, Chair
Health Ministries Task Force
Reference: Anu Garg, A.Word.A.Day, Wordsmith.org: the magic of words. 2014.