Global Health Ministry
Global Health is one of the four major areas of focus for the ministry of The United Methodist church as we strive to combat killer diseases of poverty such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as provide health education advocacy and infrastructure. The Central Texas Conference has long been a key player in the fight against malaria through our support of the hospitals, clinics and mission centers which have been operated by the United Methodist Church across Africa for more than 160 years.
Find out about the power of the connectional system of The United Methodist Church in combating the deadly diseases of poverty at these sites:
National Survey Helps Identify Congregational & Community Health Needs
What are United Methodists in the U.S. doing to improve health in their own congregations and communities? A recent survey by the UMC Health Ministry Network gives us an idea and offers insight to what is needed to enhance or start a health ministry in the local church.
This spring, the UMC Health Ministry Network
surveyed 16,000 congregations in the United States about their existing health ministries. The UMC Health Ministry Network is a collaboration between the
GPBHB Center for Health and UMCOR Health.
Of those surveyed, 10 percent responded, which is a little above the average for such a sample size.
The findings showed that 27 percent of United Methodist congregations in the U.S. have some type of health ministry in their congregation, with about half of those programs led by parish/faith community nurses or health professionals. Other health ministry leaders were identified as clergy, health advocates and/or persons interested in health issues. The top four focus areas for those ministries are:
- blood pressure monitoring (72 percent);
- exercise (64 percent);
- healthy eating (54 percent); and
- aging issues (44 percent).
Many respondents also stated that limited resources such as time, staff, finances and interest greatly affect the type of health ministry they can offer.
“UMCOR Health works with Faith Community Nurses and Health Advocates, striving to provide the best resources and tools available,” says Patricia Magyar of UMCOR Global Health. “The survey provided us with a baseline of data indicating the needs of local congregations in terms of health ministry.”
The survey also identified the need for more education on health ministry and a desire for printed materials to share with congregants, along with a need for improved communication and networking between those serving in health ministry. UMCOR and GBPHB are reviewing the ideas and suggestions offered by respondents about possible UMC resources and next steps in UMC’s health ministry.
Anne Borish, who serves as a research and information manager for GBPHB’s Center for Health said, “This survey provides a baseline estimate of congregations that have a health ministry and those interested in starting one. It provides guidance for enhancing health ministries across the connection. Needless to say, we are excited to have this data!”
Tips on Starting a Health Ministry
With nearly three quarters of respondents indicating they wanted resources to help start a health ministry, here are five simple things you can do to get the ball rolling in your congregation.
1). Start conversations. Talk with your pastor, lay leadership, and any members who work in health care. Discuss how your local church might be able to meet the needs of the congregation and the community. Start assembling a group of supporters.
2). Find out what people need. No two health ministries are the same because no two communities are the same. The ministry your church starts needs to address a specific need in your community.
· Think outside the box: Maybe your church could organize walking groups in a neighborhood where people don’t feel safe walking alone.
Think outside of your church walls: If you want your health ministry to attract new people, it has to reach beyond your membership rolls. The UMC Health Ministry Network has developed a one-page Needs Assessment
for Congregations that you can use for guidance as you do this detective work.
3). Reach out to local health care providers. Hospitals and clinics are usually thrilled to partner with churches in community health programs. They may be willing to send someone out to your church to do a program. Being in contact with health care professionals can give you a better understanding of what’s already available and what might be missing.
4). Pray without ceasing. A nascent health ministry needs spiritual support to succeed. As a people of faith, we recognize the relationship between physical health and spiritual health. Listen for God’s guidance as you discern where to put your energy.
5). Get resources.
Subscribe to the Health Ministry Network Newsletter
. It arrives bi-monthly via email and contains lots of helpful information and updates. You can also find information on the Health Ministry Network
website and on the Parish Nursing page
of UMCOR’s website. Even though each health ministry is unique, you are not alone in this effort. May God bless each of our communities with abundant health!