Wesley Launches Heal the Sick Initiative

Nov 5

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Monday, November 5, 2012 9:18 AM  RssIcon

\When Jesus sent his disciples into the world, their primary mission was to heal the sick, just as most of Jesus’ miracles were healings. Wesley proposes to be a catalyst in the development of a pilot program of parish-based health care in the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia Region modeled after several similar programs nationwide.

Through the Heal the Sick initiative, Wesley will prepare ministry leaders to support their congregations in the development of health ministries. These healing ministries are conceived holistically to include body, mind and soul. We believe that congregations are called to such vital, missional ministries, which include care and support for their members’ overall well-being, as well as care for their neighbors. Wesley will prepare leaders to support health ministries among congregations and with health care providers in order to reduce health disparities, particularly reaching out to the poor and improving the health of those in greatest need.

Wesley Theological Seminary can play a catalytic role in the development of a parish-based health care model by drawing on our educational mission, our deeply rooted connections in the region, our research and technical expertise, and our ability to add critical resources to the network’s development process. As an engaged institution of higher education, we share the public policy goals of:

  • lowering health care costs while simultaneously improving the quality of health and longevity of life for all; and
  • reducing health disparities for disadvantaged, low-income communities and people of color due to limited access to health care.

In addition, our faith calls us to be the living, healing Body of Christ that

  • cares for, nurtures and strengthens one another when we are weak or in need;
  • serves those who are disadvantaged or suffering, and
  • calls us to be agents of change who usher in a beloved community of abundant life for all people.

WTS brings to this mission its faculty and student resources, its educational capacity, its contacts and alumni network in the region, and its research abilities. Wesley will bring stakeholders together and will use our graduate students to focus research on the impact and effectiveness of establishing a parish-based network, both in terms of congregational impact and broader community outcomes. The program will be directed from Wesley’s downtown location, strategically positioned at the convergence of Massachusetts Avenue and K Street.

We seek to establish a pilot demonstration network of twenty-five congregations and are engaged in partnership discussions with Providence Hospital, Washington, D.C., Inova Hospital, Fairfax, VA and Bayside Hospital, Baltimore, MD. Staff will assist in recruiting congregations and coordinating the community based workshops. Students in the Missional Fellows and Urban Fellows programs will support this effort by meeting with congregational health leaders to identify promising practices and assess priorities of unmet needs.

We believe that the benefits of such a network will include:

  • increased quantity and quality of health practices among network congregation members;
  • improved health indicators and lowered mortality rates among network congregation members; and
  • improved health practices and health outcomes for members of the communities surrounding the network congregations.

Congregational leaders, both lay and ordained, will commit to undertaking preparatory classes developed by WTS in collaboration with our partner health institutions and faith leaders. Current Masters level students in community-based learning courses on Faith and Health will engage in the applied ministry of assisting partner congregations to start-up or develop their own health ministries, assess community needs, and develop partnerships among ministries and with health care providers. Faculty, students, and ministry team members will develop research protocols to assess the impact of this initiative on the development of these ministries and the congregations’ overall health and ministry vitality. Collaborating with health care providers, we will assist in creating community outcome measures that allow us to assess the impact of this initiative on the larger community

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