Heal the Sick Program
Whole Person Health and Well-Being in the Community
To prepare, educate, and equip leaders to advance whole person health and well-being of individuals, communities, and congregations, especially those who are under-served.
The Heal the Sick program seeks to equip faith community members and leaders to support congregations’ development of health ministries and link such ministries with hospitals, community organizations, public health institutions, and health care providers.
The goal of the program is to prepare leaders to advance holistic health and well-being of individuals, communities and congregations, especially those who are underserved. Key components of the program include promoting faith communities’ health ministries, providing educational opportunities, catalyzing network creation and supporting existing networks, and facilitating collaboration with community partners.
If you would like more information about the Heal the Sick program, please email us at email@example.com or call 202-706-6843.
Heal the Sick's Key Roles:
Equip - Prepare leaders for various roles as collaborator, listener, coordinator, and critical thinker in promoting health and healing in community
Support - Assist congregations' health ministries and help develop their role to discern their direction and partners
Catalyze - Initiate network creation or support existing networks among congregations, hospitals, and associations
Serve - Work as facilitator for sustaining communication and collaboration among local leaders to serve the common good
There are numerous models of health ministry. Below you will find a sample list of different models that can be used as part of a faith community’s health ministry that support health ministry. We encourage you to look at your faith community’s current structure and existing ministries. Find ways to improve coordination and communications among all ministries by forming an organized health ministry. Build on what you have already at your congregation. Explore equitable and respectful collaborative partnerships for your health ministry model with other groups. Connect to a Network to receive support, resources, and coordinate.
Find a model or combination of models that works best for you, your faith community, and your community. Here is a small sample of different Health Ministry Models:
Health ministers play a key role in health ministry. Health ministers are unique in that their backgrounds and experiences vary, even between health ministers in the same faith community. Some are healthcare professionals, barbers, stay at home parents, lawyers or accountants. They can be health navigators, wellness coaches, outreach workers, health educators, health ambassadors, or promoters de salud. What is most important is that a health minister believes in the importance of holistic health and in the role of faith communities in improving the health and wellness of the community. Often, they are part of a health and wellness ministry/team. Some may work alone while others may work with faith community nurses to organize, plan, and evaluate health ministry activities.
Faith Community Nursing
The American Nurses Association, working with the Health Ministries Association, has a specialty practice for licensed registered nurses. Faith Community Nursing, formerly known as parish nursing, is for active licensed registered nurses who receive additional education and training for this specialty practice. Faith Community Nurse certification can be obtained for this specialty practice through the American Nurse Association by nurses submitting a portfolio of their work for review. The certification for Faith Community Nursing began in 2014. Some of the key roles of a faith community nurse may include health education, health counseling, referrals, health ministry team coordination, and volunteer coordination. Faith community nurses, like health ministers, are key members of a health ministry team, though in some faith communities, they may work independently of a health ministry team.
A Congregational Health & Wellness Ministry
(Health Ministry, Care & Concern Ministry, Wellness Ministry, etc.)
Many congregations have or are developing organized, formal health ministries that address the health of its faith community’s members as well as work with the community at large. Health ministry seeks to find common ground among other congregational ministries, such as social justice, religious education, volunteer visitors, hospitality, and youth ministries. Health ministry sees health holistically. A Health ministry is representative of faith community and community members.
Health ministers and faith community nurses often play key roles in health and wellness ministries. Both can work together in a congregational health ministry. Health ministries actively supported by clergy meet regularly to discuss and plan health activities that benefit the congregation as well as the community. A sample of health ministry activities may include support groups, speakers on specific topics, visitation ministries, and advocacy efforts.
Who are Health Ministers: Health ministers are healthcare professionals, clergy, lay volunteers, allied health professionals, faith community members, barbers, stay at home parents, lawyers, accountants, and others. They can serve in many roles as health navigators, wellness coaches, outreach workers, health educators, and health ambassadors, promoters de salud, and health promoters. Some of these roles are formal and informal. Health ministers are trusted messengers in their communities. Health Ministers can work in public health. They can work in hospitals. Health Ministers are often part of a formal health and wellness ministry/team at a congregation. Health ministers can work as part of a team with faith community nurses to organize, plan, and evaluate health ministry activities.
Purpose of Certificate: Faith communities have long been places of healing and health. There is a greater consciousness of the need to improve personal and community health and wellness. Congregations need organized ways, possibly through health ministries, to navigate this complex new landscape to help their faith community members connect to and access resources and services. Congregations also can reclaim their health and healing mission through an active health ministry.
The health minister certificate provides an introductory, educational foundation for individuals desiring core competency to serve as health ministers in a faith community setting. The main goal of the health ministry certificate is to equip various audiences with practical ministerial skills such as personal and community asset mapping, active listening, theological reflection, and basic health education and networking skills to access and navigate community resources.
A health ministry may already exist in a faith community in social justice, religious education, volunteer visitors, hospitality, and youth ministries. A health ministry helps strengthen a faith communities’ communication and connections within and outside their faith community. With the new healthcare legislation emphasizing population based care, health ministers can help their faith community link to health resources in new ways. Health ministers working together with clergy, various ministries, and Faith Community Nurses in teams or committees can provide faith communities new ways to grow and adapt to change in its mission to serve the local community or its own members.
Curriculum: The Health Minister Certificate is based on the guidelines published in 2011 by the Health Ministries Association’s “The Health Minister Role: Guidelines and Foundational Curriculum Elements”. This document encompasses common core elements found in various national best practice models for training and educating health ministers.
Faculty for Certificate courses: Faculty teaching modules will have knowledge and skills in subject area and have a clear understanding of various faith and health terms, concepts, and practices in different settings. Current Wesley Seminary faculty, Faith Community leaders, Faith Community Nurse or Health Ministry coordinators from hospitals, public health, or established faith leaders and context experts will serve as faculty members for the modules.
- Exploring the Definitions of Faith and Health
- Spiritual and Self-Care Practices for Health Ministry
- Health Ministry Models - Models of Practice, Support, & Networking
- Communicating and Organizing for Health Ministry
- Accountability, Professional Responsibility, Legal Considerations for the Health Minister
- Nutrition and Wellness: Becoming the Best Version of You
- Understanding Chronic Diseases & Its Relationship to Whole Person Health
- Health Insurance & Health Policy: Understanding & Navigating the Healthcare System
- Mental Health: Raising Understanding & Decreasing Stigma You & Your Congregation
- Advanced Care Issues: End of Life & Palliative Care
Note: Certificate credits are not transferable to any Wesley Seminary degree
There are also educational programs available for faith community nurses. Faith community nursing is a specialty practice recognized by the American Nurses Association. The Heal the Sick program recognizes the importance of this role in numerous faith based settings for licensed, registered nurses. Some of the key roles of a faith community nurse may include health education, health counseling, referrals, health ministry team coordinator and volunteer coordination.
If you are registered nurse and you are interested in faith community nurse educational programs to prepare you for this role, please call (202)706-6843.
The Heal the Sick program supports the development of faith community health networks across the greater Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Northern Virginia regions. Heal the Sick also partners with other national partners who have faith and health networks. The networks bring together members of faith communities, community organizations, and health care providers to provide support, resources, and continuing educational opportunities for individuals interested in promoting whole person health, preventing disease, and addressing health disparities. The ultimate goal is for the development of self-sustaining networks.
Networks usually meet at least quarterly and include time for identifying community resources, discussion, reflection, and education on topics self-identified by community and faith member participants. The networks help people build trusting relationships with each other and collaborative partners. Network need backbone organization to hold the group together. Backbone organizations provide ongoing staff, resources, and other support to help the group. Different organizations can share the backbone role in providing space for meetings, a dedicated staff person to organize and facilitate meeting, etc. Networking takes effort and work. It does not happen naturally. It needs proper funding and support.
The Northern Virginia network is an example of a partnership between Heal the Sick, faith communities, and a hospital or hospital system. The network geographically covers the Route 1 corridor in Alexandria, VA. This particular hospital-based network partnership is between the INOVA Health System and Wesley Theological Seminary. The working partnership includes INOVA Mt. Vernon hospital, the Heal the Sick program, individuals from local faith communities and volunteer hospital chaplains who are active in local faith communities, as well. All of these parties are working collectively to build and strengthen collaborations that bring together the resources of hospital and community health care organizations and congregations for improved community health. The Heal the Sick has played a pivotal role in helping to educate faith community and hospital staff by holding introductory workshops and offering its Health Minister and Faith Community Nurse certificates.
Key staff for the INOVA - Wesley partnership include the hospitals head chaplain for pastoral services, chaplaincy staff, a network partnership manager employed by the participating hospital, Heal the Sick program director, and faith community members. Hospital-based network models work well for a hospital or hospital-system with a strong commitment to sustaining community connection and/or a chaplaincy or pastoral service department with strong community ties.
Heal the Sick supports a network in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington DC. This network is an example of a community-based network that draws upon a partnership between Heal the Sick and key clergy and faith community members from these Wards. Many participants in the network are graduates of the Health Minister and Faith Community Nurse certificate who are seeking to integrate a health ministry into their faith community. The network provides an avenue of continued support after the completion of the certificate by bringing together individuals who are from the same region and who have similar goals and challenges. There is a common goal in this network to coordinate faith community and health promotion efforts to address health disparities. Participants receive support from each other, as well as from Heal the Sick staff through continued educational opportunities.
Other Networks & Collaborations
D.C. Health Collaboration
Wesley Theological Seminary is working with D.C. congregations, Children’s National Medical Center, Ward 5, 7, & 8 Health Alliance, D.C. Department of Health & Human Services - Places of Worship (POWAB) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships to reduce health disparities in the District of Columbia through creation of faith and health partnerships. We are building and strengthening collaborations that bring together the resources of many organizations and congregations for improved community health. DC has some of the highest rates in the nation of HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, diabetes and asthma. Within D.C. there are tremendous disparities in health and health care access.
DC Health Matters Collaborative - Health Literacy Work Group
Wesley Theological Seminary' Heal the Sick program is an active member of Health Literacy work group member of the DC Health Matters Collaborative. The DC Health Matters Collaborative (formerly the DC Healthy Communities Collaborative - DCHCC) is a coalition of DC hospitals and health centers who work together with community partners to assess and address health needs in DC.
Based on the DCHCC Community Health Needs Assessment of 2016 of Washington, DC, Wesley Theological Seminary Heal the Sick worked with undergraduate and graduate students from American University, George Washington University, and University of Maryland School of Nursing to research and find best practices around health literacy. The findings showed a strong concern with lack of cultural competency and awareness by healthcare providers in relation to the care of African Americans in Washington, DC. The health literacy findings also discovered cultural/folk practices and spiritual factors which shape health for African Americans. The Heal the Sick program developed and proposed several educational and informational resources to DCHCC so that health literacy could be improved by addressing cultural competency and awareness within the medical community within specific wards in DC where there is greater than 90% African American population. To achieve these goals, Heal the Sick is working with Health Ministers Coordinators, Health Ministers, Healthcare Providers, and others who impact overall health within wards 5, 7, and 8. To see our web page on our DC Health Literacy work, please visit this link.
Baltimore Health Collaboration
Wesley Theological Seminary is working with Baltimore area hospitals and congregations, Maryland Healthcare for All, the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to improve the health of greater Baltimore residents through faith and health partnerships. We are working with several greater Baltimore congregational health ministries to develop a greater Baltimore regional network to provide a long term, sustainable structure for this work. We seek to build and strengthen collaborations that bring together the resources of many organizations and congregations for improved community health.
If you are interested in developing or learning more about faith community health networks, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valuable links and resources for faith communities:
- Infographics on Vaping: The “Cool” and Dangerous New Alternative to Cigarettes (source: Regis College)
- Coalition Against Drug Abuse
- Mental Health Resources (source: Addiction Counselor website)
- Counting Sheep - website dedicated to improving sleep
- Resources for Alcoholics and Problem Drinkers - Alcohol Addictions Center
- Health Ministries Association
- National umbrella organization for all health ministries
- National membership organization for faith community nurses
- International Parish Nurse Resource Center
- Major leader in faith community nurse education
- Resources for faith community nurses
- Learning Collaborative ( Health Systems Learning Group)
- Voluntary, peer-led national initiative with a general goal to contribute to the transformation of the systems accountable for the health of communities by helping those organizations to lead boldly and push the edge of innovation
- Outlines promising best practice models in implementing new healthcare law in communities
- Wesley Downtown is a member of this group
- The Public Health Institute and the Centers for Disease Control
- “Best Practices for Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy Development: A Review of Scientific Methods, Current Practices, and Future Potential”, Feb 2012
- Outlines community benefit standards for healthcare institutions in light of new healthcare legislation
- Health Ministry Reporting Tools
- Health Minister Pledge (pdf)
- Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington
- Metropolitan Washington DC Emergency Food, Shelter, & Healthcare Guide (pdf)