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Health and Wellness for Faith Communities – What to do?

June 22, 2011

As I have continued to explore the idea of [w]holy living in both my personal life and as it relates to my role as a leader in the church, I began wondering what the church could and should do to promote wellness and healthy, full lives.  To explore the topic more, I picked up a new book by Jill Westberg McNamara, Health and Wellness: What Your Faith Community Can Do.  I is a short, but information-packed book with lots of ideas for different types of faith communities and how they can partner with health care professionals to increase the health and wellness of the population.

One of the most interesting chapters discussed the link between physical and spiritual health.  One group began creating health partnerships in which new patients to a hospital met with a doctor, a nurse, and a pastor.  They approached the individual’s illness from all aspects and treated it the same way.  They found many times that a loss or period of grief had occurred in the individual’s life recently.  Through counseling the individual through the grief in conjunction with medical treatment for the illness, the recovery rate increased.

I’m not sure I have any more answers than I had before, but I definitely have more questions, which I think is a good thing.  How can we better partner with the doctors and hospitals in our area?  Yes, we seek to have pastoral visits with the sick and dying, but are we doing enough preparation or offering enough preventative programs in anticipation for illnesses and diseases that come?  Yes, we offer exercise classes, but what about the rest of the formula – healthy eating, regular doctor visits for check-ups, vaccinations, etc.?

What do you think?  What would you like to see your faith community do to address the issues of health and wellness?  What are we missing?  How can YOU help?  What can YOU offer?

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