Reflecting on Maryland
As previously mentioned on this blog, I was honored to be the keynote speaker recently for the Diocese of Maryland’s program entitled ‘Health Care IS a Matter of Faith’. You can find the full text of my remarks here. The Diocesan Health Care Task Force had worked hard to develop a program embracing all aspects of health care, including discussions of health care reform, end of life issues and health ministry programs.
Bishop Rabb, a NEHM board member, had specifically requested that each parish send at least one representative, resulting in a turnout of over 100 attendees. Among them were clergy, medical professionals, and interested parishioners. This resulted in a diverse array of opinions that contributed to healthy, passionate discussions about a wide variety of topics. I was especially impressed with the presenters, all of whom exhibited thorough knowledge and thoughtfulness about their respective topics.
In thinking about the day, I’m struck by the passion with which individuals advocated their point of view (leading to some wonderfully spirited discussions about health care reform) while still being respectful of others who may have disagreed. It’s a model I wish our nation's town hall meetings last summer could have followed more closely.
The Rev. William Bell gave a wonderfully inspiring, hopeful and reflective presentation on his experience with advanced directives and end of life issues. It perfectly captured the essence of the differences between ‘healing’ and ‘curing’. As part of that same presentation, Dr. Matthew Rogers was thought-provoking as he wondered: Is all this technology and our ability to prolong life seemingly indefinitely really a benefit to us?
Pat Hall directed an informative look at health ministry, inviting others to share their experiences as well. Questions were answered and I'm hopeful that some new ministries will begin as a result of the conversations that took place.
I think this program is a wonderful model for other dioceses. It would be easy to substitute topics of local interest that would hopefully be as compelling as this was for the Diocese of Maryland. I applaud the Health Care Task Force for this important day of reflection on our health care system and our role in it, and I'm hopeful others will be inspired to hold similar conversations in their dioceses.
Some additional resources shared at the event:
Matthew Ellis serves as executive director of National Episcopal Health Ministries.