Vinny DeMarco of Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence gave two workshops at our conference in Baltimore recently. This is an important issue and as I reflect on Vinny's presentation, this is a good time to revisit the Episcopal Church's resolutions on guns and other information relating to this topic.
What does the Episcopal Church say about gun violence?
We have put together this document that includes the most recent Executive Council resolution, as well as relevant gun control resolutions from past conventions. NEHM uses official church policy as stated in these resolutions to determine positions of advocacy.
From Episcopal Public Policy Network:
Tell Congress to Take Common Sense Steps to Challenge Our Culture of Violence
Share the Presiding Bishop’s Testimony - Transforming Our Culture of Violence
From Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence:
Take Action! Let your senator know where you stand!
Out of 100 members of the United States Senate, 55 voted for strong background checks legislation. Unfortunately, Senate rules require 60 votes. Use the form linked above to thank senators who stood with the 92% of the American people who support strong background checks AND/OR to send a note of persuasion to those who did not.
Take Action! Let your Representative know where you stand!
There is now a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives requiring background checks on gun purchases. We have drafted template messages based on whether your representative is already a cosponsor, is likely to be a cosponsor, or needs some additional encouragement to support the legislation. All you have to do is provide your zip code and address to get started and then add a personal touch to your message.
Maryland Episcopal Bishop Eugene Sutton praises Maryland's new gun violence prevention law:
This law has a requirement that handgun purchasers first go through a fingerprint based background check and get a license from the State Police in order to purchase a handgun. Why is this provision important? Here is the answer.
See the full press release from Maryland here.
Additional resources for gun violence prevention can be found here.
Each week, we’ll share interesting health and healing-related stories in the news. Following is a round up of articles about physical, emotional and spiritual health and healing that could be applied to health ministries.
It’s not just your concentration and productivity that suffers when you skimp on sleep, your entire body is affected: hormones, blood pressure, immune and cardiovascular systems. Risks spikes from chronic sleep depravation, including obesity, heart disease and infections.
But even if you intend to get enough sleep, sometimes stress, anxiety or caffeine intake make it difficult. Cut off caffeine intake by 2:00 p.m., create a winding down ritual to quiet your mind and prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Caffeine: Manage Your Energy Wisely
Caffeine, a stimulant, can definitely increase your energy level. But it can decrease it, too. It all depends on when and how much you consume.
Your alertness increases with a little caffeine, so having a cup of coffee before going to a meeting or starting on a project can help sharpen your mind. Early in the morning it can be enough to produce a spark, but beware—what goes up must go down. You may find your energy, attention span and ability to focus decline if you reach for your second, third or fourth cup.
It’s not just coffee that people reach for when they need a jolt: energy drinks have become increasingly popular. Varying widely in caffeine content, some contain as much or more as a cup of coffee—and loads of sugar. It’s a combination sure to produce an energy crash and craving for more.
How much is too much?
To get the energizing effects of caffeine, use it judiciously. It can cause insomnia, especially when consumed in large amounts or after 2 p.m. Some people are so sensitive to the effects of caffeine that having a single cup of coffee in the morning can interfere with their sleep at night. And that can definitely lower your energy. If you are such a person, it’s best to avoid caffeine entirely: try switching to decaf or try green tea. Although it, too, contains some caffeine, green tea is much easier on the body and contains a wealth of health benefits.
- Bruce Nickerson
This provider model is producing great results by combining some high tech features with simple, common sense problem solving.
Wireless scales connected to CareMore’s clinics and a proactive staff detected early warning signs on a congestive heart failure patient. Focusing on regular toenail trimmings to prevent falls? Absolutely, and CareMore, which operates 26 care centers focused on more than 50,000 Medicare Advantage patients, is proving it has the right approach:
• Hospitalization rate is 24 percent below average.
• Hospital stays are 38 percent lower.
• Amputation rate among diabetics = 60 percent lower than average.
• Member costs are 18 percent below average.
Impressive results. But what stood out to me is that this company really promotes creative thinking. It’s the insight, knowing what to do with the data and information that’s to be celebrated here.
How might you think out of the box in your health ministry?
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas approved today a definitive agreement for the transfer of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System to Catholic Health Initiatives, a nationally recognized health care system.
We all need to blow off steam. It’s hard to lead and serve others when you are processing your feelings about difficult things that happen in life. Here are a few examples of how clergy members recharge and re-center themselves.
Terra Hoskins contributes to the NEHM and NEAC blog on a freelance basis. As principal of Hoskins Interactive, an inbound marketing consultancy, she helps organizations improve the quality of website traffic needed to expand business. Follow Terra on her blog and on Twitter: @terrahoskins.photo credit: hey mr glen via photopin cc
Editor's Note: This is a guest blog from the Rev. 'Bean' Murray, coordinator of Episcopal Mental Illness Network.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a good opportunity to remember that all of our congregations have members facing mental illness issues whether they have a diagnosed disorder, have a family member with a disorder, or are a caregiver. It is estimated that at any given time, one fourth of the people in our pews are facing such issues.
Questions to Ask
This month can be a time to take stock of how well our congregations are welcoming to people with a mental illness:
- Do we ever have adult forum offerings about mental health and serious mental illness?
- Does the subject of mental illness ever come up from the pulpit?
- Would a person facing a mental illness feel comfortable bringing a mental health issue to our clergy?
- Does the church library have any books about mental illness and questions of faith?
- If they contact the church for assistance, do we treat families facing serious mental illness issues the way we would any other family by offering pastoral care visits, bringing the Eucharist, or offering to bring meals or run errands?
- Do our members feel that they have to keep mental illness issues secret?
The Episcopal Mental Illness Network (EMIN) wants to help our congregations to be welcoming to people with serious mental illnesses and to their families and friends. Stigma is an added burden to our members. Most congregations share the same stereotypes as the society at large, and that often can keep people with serious mental illnesses from fully participating in our faith communities.
Resources for Fighting Stigma
One way to help fight stigma is to start a mental illness ministry whose mission is to help educate the congregation about the nature of mental illness and about the resources in the community that are available to help. EMIN’s website, http://www.eminnews.org, has suggestions on how to start such a ministry and a tool for assessing how welcoming your church is today.
Some other good resources for making our congregations more welcoming are Mental Health Ministries and Pathways to Promise. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America have valuable information for consumers and advocates. [Ed. note: NEHM has included these in our resources tagged mental health; see blogs and social media in our Media section.]
EMIN produces an electronic newsletter twice a year that features what congregations around the country are doing to address the issues of mental illness and communities of faith. If you want to share information about a program that our readers might find interesting or if you want to sign up for the “EMIN News,” you can send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might remember that a few weeks ago we announced that we have refreshed the website. We didn't buy a whole new car, but we did put a new engine under the hood and added a great stereo system. I guess what I'm trying to say is it looks similar but works MUCH better.
Now that we have addressed some structural issues with the site, we have been working hard to add new resources for you. Here is a rundown of just some of what we have been doing while you have been sleeping.
Top 10 Recent NEHM Activities:
Hired Sue Hacker Nelson: I've always believed it is critical to hire great people. Well, we found one. Sue has jumped right in and is doing a terrific job. Technically, we hired her with the title Front Office Manager. More accurate is probably Jack of All Trades, Master of... well, All Trades. She is amazing and I hope you are coming to the conference where you can meet her!
We are having our national conference May 9-11 in Baltimore! If we have been working on 1-9 while getting ready for the conference, just how awesome do you think this conference experience is going to be? Exactly, so be there! Registration information is here.
Kicked the blog into overdrive (just check out April!): One struggle I have always had is finding the time to slow down and allow the creative thought process the open space it needs to work well. Hiring Sue has freed up mental energy knowing someone else is here to help us stay on track. I think our blog is an important avenue for discussion and I'm thrilled to have more time to write for it. Terra Hoskins is a wonderful contributor and has several posts this month worth reading as well.
New Media Section: Let's be honest, this section of our site has always been a bit underutilized. For a while, we thought we would post interesting online articles about health ministries but soon found the links were often broken at the source and it was a lot of work to maintain. This is MUCH better. The Media section is now a list of blogs, social media channels, newsletters and websites that relate to health ministries and the Episcopal Church. Because they are not links to individual articles, we can scour the web for the best information sources and it will always be current. I am really excited about this and guarantee there is already something great waiting for you here.
New Resources: I am sure you have already spent worthwhile time checking out the redesigned section. However, we have added many new resources in the past few weeks, including items tagged with the following: Veterans, Mental Health, Disability, Violence, and Aging, among others. Take another look!
New Diocesan Liaisons: We have several new diocesan liaisons in the pipeline and will be announcing them soon!
Westberg Symposium: I met with several longtime friends in health ministry and also made some new ones in Memphis. I learned about some exciting new initiatives, which will be shared in the coming months. We also laid the groundwork for some potential new partnerships. Marge Hanna Zeig blogged the conference here.
NEHM Promotional Items: We have ordered several NEHM promotional items for our conference. We are excited for you to see them! After the conference, we will be making them available to those of you who were unable to join us.
Which of these items is your favorite? What do you want to see us work on after the conference is over? Let us know in the comments!
Chances are high that there are members of your parish who have been the victim of some sort of crime. While we often think of victims in terms violent crimes such as murder or rape, far more people are victimized through non-violent means, such as identity theft or property crime, each year.
During 2011, the rate of violent victimization increased 17%, from 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2010 to 22.5 in 2011. The rate of property crime increased 11%, from 125.4 per 1,000 households in 2010 to 138.7 in 2011. (Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2011, October 2012)
Victims of crime can face both physical and emotional trauma. While the former is typically straightforward, the latter varies widely from person to person and may manifest itself in different ways – even years after the event. Understanding victimization can help.
Among many other symptoms, victims of crime may develop trust issues, have trouble sleeping, or have flashbacks. They may feel denial or become angry.
Then people can be re-victimized by law enforcement, the legal system, friends and family who either question the validity of their statements or who imply that the victim brought the crime upon themselves. Accepting and believing are the first steps anyone can take to help a victim cope.
The National Center for Victims of Crime provides a variety of resources for both victims and the people who care about them. There is also a section on talking to children about tragic events.
A significant part of providing service to victims of crime is self-care. NCVC also provides resources for caregivers to ensure they remain resilient in their work.
Since 1981, National Crime Victims' Rights Week has been observed in April to bring awareness to the rights and needs of victims of crime. More information including posters you can use today can be found at the Office for Victims of Crime website and at the National Center for Victims of Crime.