Saturday, April 13, 2013 11:10 AM
On March 1, Wesley at Mount Vernon Square (MVS) hosted a workshop to introduce congregational health ministry as part of Wesley’s Heal the Sick Initiative based at MVS in downtown Washington, D.C. Wesley’s Heal the Sick initiative gained its original inspiration from the Congregational Health Network created by the Methodist Hospital system in Memphis, TN, commonly known as the Memphis Model.
According to Dr. Sam Marullo, the Heal the Sick Initiative is designed to “take the message of the healing witness of God to our neighbors” with the ultimate goal of healing and wholeness for impacted communities, especially the poor and those in greatest need. Through the initiative, Wesley prepares clergy and lay leaders to support their congregations in the development of health ministries conceived wholistically to include body, mind and soul. The goals of the Heal the Sick Initiative include an increase in the quantity and quality of healthy living practices, increased access to health services, improved health indicators and lower mortality rates; and improved health practices and health outcomes.
The purpose of the March 1 workshop, entitled “Exploring Faith and Health Concepts/Context and Training for Transformation,” was to equip congregations and organizations with tools for combating health disparities in the Washington, D.C. area. The target audience for this first-ever workshop included Wesley fellows, area coordinators, the Wesley community, and the community partners that MVS has been meeting and working with to develop the initiative. In attendance were representatives from INOVA, Holy Cross Faith Community Nurse Program and Adventist, among others. The workshop was led by Tom Pruski, Heal the Sick coordinator, Sam Marullo, Director of Wesley at MVS, and Mauri Bishop, Assistant Director of Wesley at MVS. The leaders hope to evaluate and adjust this first workshop based on the feedback provided by the participants and develop a workshop that may be presented quarterly to additional community players.
The tone of the workshop was set early in the day with an icebreaker that required participants to get to know their fellow attendees names, affiliations, and passions for healing and wholeness. The workshop was not simply a tool for passing on mission and inspiration, but according to Pruski, a “shared interactive experience” with contextualized learning for all in attendance. The design of the workshop allowed the participants to bring their experiences to the forefront of conversation as they worked toward a common goal.
The attendees participated in creating a shared definition of health on the basis of two questions, “What is a healthy person?” and, “What is a healthy community?” The answers to these questions serve as the basis for congregational health ministry. The group developed the following definitions.
A healthy person is wholistically seeking to become a self-actualized individual member of a community. A healthy person has balance in mind, body, spirit, and social components in life. Congregational health ministry has adopted the term “wholistically” spelled with a “w” as it relates to healing and wholeness.
A healthy community is one where all God’s creation, which includes humanity, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and social class are respected, accepted, welcomed, and protected, and where all their needs are met.
“The participants at our first workshop were so enthusiastic and clearly see the value of such a congregational health network. The hospital representatives understand the need for loving church families to accompany patients through their hospital stays. And the healing power of the Holy Spirit is at work in congregations' health ministry teams as they offer love and support to one another in a person's time of illness. Wesley can serve as the catalyst that helps bring together wholistic care and support with medical interventions to serve as God's healing hands in a broken world,” said Sam Marullo.
The last half of the workshop was dedicated to providing valuable tools for the promotion of congregational health ministry in home congregations and communities.
The group left energized for ministry and provided valuable feedback for future workshops and the continuation of the Heal the Sick Initiative.
To view a video from the Heal the Sick event, click here.
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