The Westberg Symposium 2013
April 5, 2013
I'm here in Memphis at the 2013 Church Health Conference and Westberg Symposium - and unfortunately warm weather has not hit here yet either. But then again I have been inside all day amidst the warmth and caring thoughts of several hundred parish nurses and other health ministry advocates and practitioners. I have decided to blog a bit about this conference for all my health ministry friends not able to attend.
Today is, coincidently the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King - not far away at the Lorraine Motel. This fact was not lost on our featured speaker, Dr. Scott Morris, founder and Executive Director of the Church Health Center, who reminded us of Dr. King’s dream of the Beloved Community and of the meaning and value of love and its presence in our ministry to others. I attended a pre-conference workshop on The Model for Healthy Living – a program to improve wellness and quality of life for individuals, congregations and community. This program show how your faith, movement, work, nutrition, family and friends, emotions and medical health can all contribute to a life filled with more joy, love and connection with God. Tools for this are free and available on-line at www.chreader.org
We are enjoined in three days of exploration, learning, sharing and fellowship with a wonderful choice of workshops and some pretty great speakers. But let’s not forget that this is Memphis and there is Beale Street, good music and great barbecue – not to mention Elvis. And, appropriately enough, Memphis is the home of the National Civil Rights Museum.
My only disappointment is not yet seeing anyone else here from Pennsylvania. But the next best thing was seeing Matt Ellis, Executive Director for the National Episcopal Health Ministries, who arrived this evening after a long drive from Indiana. It is only a month until the annual NEHM Conference in Baltimore – it is not too late to register for this wonderful spiritual experience May 5-7. www.episcopalhealthministries.org
April 6, 2013
What powerful messages and some great workshops today. One high note was a talk by Drs. Kenda Hotz and Matt Mathews about “Faith and Health at the Foot of the Cross”, beginning with an overview of some of the social determinants of health with poverty being a major factor. They spoke to the structured inequalities that keep disparities alive – the internalized marginalization that can result in fatalism – a pervasive disposition that accepts ill health as inevitable, intractable and irremediable. And what is our role in this? Many focus too much on Christ’s death rather than on his life and his message. We convince ourselves that our belief is about soul salvation. But Christ saved whole human beings – our bodies in this life as much as for the next. There is a unity of body and soul and both must be attended to. We are challenged to move from bland charity to vibrant solidarity in working for justice to end these health disparities. We need to move from a focus on the cross and crucifixion –Good Friday – to actively working for Easter in our communities.
This conference is such a rich experience. Today ended with a keynote address by with Andrew Young who shared some of his experiences and aspects of his friendship with Martin Luther King. WOW! More to come…
April 7, 2013
The quality of workshops continued to be high on this last full day of events. One of the highlights was a keynote presentation by William Cope Moyers (son of Bill Moyers) – a man in recovery from addiction for 19 years who works on public policy while attached to the Hazelden Foundation. He has written two books about this: Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption and Now What?: An Insider's Guide to Addiction and Recovery
Some of the concepts over these three days:
- Setting up formal mentoring systems for the work that we do.
- Using networks (formal and informal) to share and support ministries
- Using the concept of care teams to meet health needs in our church communities – and with this the value of web based organizing tools
- Need for more “how to” packets/modules for those who want to start ministries, e.g. (addiction) Recovery Advocacy, Veterans Recovery Advocacy.
- Recruiting and training volunteers and leadership development
- Promoting wellness, e.g. diabetes prevention
- Affordable Health Care Act and Faith Community Nursing – what is our role?
I mailed the materials to myself so will by next week have my notes. Papers and PowerPoints will also be available at the Church Health Center website and will access those for those who may be interested.
Marge Hanna Zeig
Church of the Holy Spirit Harleysville PA
Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania