by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/credo-walk-and-be-well">CREDO: Walk and Be Well</a></h1>

From CREDO: Jesus spent much of his ministry walking. From town to town across Galilee, Samaria and Judea, he walked and talked, in the company of his disciples, his followers and God.

CREDO's Walk and Be Well offers a way to follow Jesus both in words and action, with a walking program attuned to both body and soul. The Walk and Be Well reflections in both text and audio are brief guideposts to help you begin your daily walk with one of three CREDO writers: Jackie Cameron,  Elizabeth Moosbrugger, or Bill Watson. Reflections can be downloaded as podcasts, streamed from the CREDO website, and printed as pdfs; use them while walking solely or share them with your walking partner or group.

Walk and Be Well begins with an introduction from Jackie Cameron followed by reflections for 28 walking days and a concluding reflection. The distance and pace is up to you. Walk and Be Well is your opportunity to join other CREDO participants, whether they're in your area or they live far away, in committing to four weeks of walking as a benefit to your physical and spiritual health and well-being.

CREDO: Walk and Be Well

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

Here is a link to the full text of the original article

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/a-tale-of-two-bakeries">A Tale of Two Bakeries</a></h1>

This is a tale of two bakeries, both tasked with baking a new cake. There are many options and as you will see, they have very different methods of working together (or not). 

Ideal Bakery: Everyone works hard to advance the interests of the company; everyone has their say but then supports the decision made by the whole, working to implement it as best as possible.

Actual Bakery: Each person works to advance their own personal agenda, regardless of how it affects the company or its individual products; everyone has their say but if their position isn’t chosen, they work to undermine the group decision and use every tactic possible to still obtain their own goals.

The Cake: Both bakeries agree there is a desperate need for a new cake.

The Ideal Bakery deliberates respectfully and agrees on a chocolate cake. Not everyone likes this choice but everyone works together to make it the best chocolate cake possible. Some of those who wanted lemon cake are even the ones to make a crucial adjustment to the icing that vastly improves the quality of the cake. The cake is finished ahead of schedule and everyone shares the credit for a delicious cake.

The Actual Bakery employees spend most of their deliberation time screaming at each other, accusing each other of various false and truly awful motives for their cake choices. They also deliberately produce false information about each other’s cake choices. Eventually, a chocolate cake is chosen. Those who voted for chocolate cake begin the process of assembling ingredients. Those who wanted other cakes continually replace the sugar with salt and the flour with baking soda. Finally, the cake is assembled and put into the oven for baking, but again the ‘other cake’ advocates take turns shutting off the oven and cutting into the cake while it bakes.

The cake tastes horrible and is not ready on time. Those who wanted other cakes point to the end product as proof that their choices were superior. They feel justified in destroying the chocolate cake because it was really doomed from the start. There is simply no way a chocolate cake could ever be worthwhile in their view. 

The cake in this story is, of course, health care reform. I am hopeful that the Actual Bakery has not ruined our ACA cake and that it will be good enough. The ACA is not as good as it could have been and it will not be completely ready as early as it might have been. However, the early data is promising regarding the number of insurers in the marketplaces, the average cost of premiums, and the various benefits to consumers (no more pre-existing conditions, minimum coverage requirements, etc).

Let’s not judge the ACA by how it looks October 1. This new law is going to need some additional baking time before it comes together fully. My hope is that the ACA will be good enough on October 1 and terrific on January 1.

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

Each week, we highlight stories from our newsfeed on Prismatic. No account is required to see what we think is worth reading, so visit our profile often! We update it daily so there is usually something new to check out. Here is a sample of what we liked this week:

Studies Explain Why Exercise Makes You Eat Less, Not More via Lifehacker
It seems natural that when you exercise, you're going to get more hungry and eat more to fuel yourself. However, as The New York Times points out, that's not always the case.

Disturber of the Peace: a new documentary on Malcolm Boyd via The Lead
Los Angeles filmmaker Andrew Thomas has turned his attention from the secular to the religious by directing a feature-length documentary on the life and times of the Rev. Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest who says the church needs to be more relevant to the everyday person and has worked to improve that issue.

TREC and the 4 Cs via The Lead
The Task Force for Re-imaging the Episcopal Church (TREC) has released a draft report on the identity and vision of the Episcopal Church.

Put your Facebook password in your will and other tips for digital estate planning via MiamiHerald.com
As we plan for inheriting the house and family keepsakes, we must include our digital lives as well. And, as we help our parents plan, we need to remember their digital presence.

House of Bishops fall 2013 meeting daily account via Episcopal Digital Network
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Nashville, TN (Diocese of Tennessee) from September 19 to September 24.  The following is an account of the activities for Monday, September 23.

Let us know which articles you liked (or didn't) in the comments!


by Matthew Ellis and Jayce Hafner   |   comments

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Begins October 1!

Many of our ministries come into contact with those likely to be uninsured. Food pantries and other ministries that serve the homeless or working poor will have the opportunity to identify many who need help accessing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Here is how your ministry can help:

  1. Know what's happening: Do you know the significance of October 1, January 1, and March 31? Do you understand the basics of the Affordable Care Act? Do you know where to find additional help?

  2. Make a plan: How involved do you want to be? Consider one of the scenarios below and how your ministry might participate. 

  3. Offer help: Do not assume that no one in your parish or community needs this information. People can lack health insurance for many reasons and it is not always clear who needs the information. At a minimum, commit to providing information and knowing where to direct people for more help. Really stuck? See our ACA page on this site to catch up on the latest information and best resources.

Scenario #1:

Mark is the rector of a small parish in an upper-middle class neighborhood. He suspects that few, if any, of his parishioners are uninsured. However, Mark realizes that many people pass through the church doors and may find ACA information useful. He also knows that it's possible parishioners may need to pass information on to friends and family. He posts fact sheets from the Official Resources of CMS.gov on the bulletin board and a note to visit healthcare.gov in the bulletin. 

Scenario #2: 

Mary Anne is a 56-year-old member of a rural congregation. She has heard a few things about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the news, but she is unsure whether it applies to her or to her family. Mary Anne decides to do some research: she visits www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about the ACA. As she reads this information, Mary Anne realizes that, while she is not directly affected by this law (her family already has health care coverage and their household income is above the income threshold for subsidies/credits), there are many people who live near or below the poverty line in her congregation who probably do not have affordable health care, and who would benefit from the ACA. She has wondered how to help needy households in her community for years, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to take action.

Mary Anne decides to organize a community gathering at her church to explain the ACA and how it affects congregation members. She calls her priest to ask whether she can hold an ACA enrollment webinar in the social space of the church; the priest agrees, and Mary Anne begins planning her seminar.

Mary Anne uses the Find Local Help feature to connect with an agency serving her area. They agree to send a Health Care Navigator to conduct an education night. She sends out an email to the church listserv, and inserts an announcement in the church bulletin. On Sunday, she gets up and invites the congregation to her seminar the following week.

Mary Anne spends the days leading up to the seminar doing additional research and carefully practicing her presentation (she decides to use the slide show presentation and notes provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMMS]. Once she has rehearsed her part of the presentation and copied handouts, she is ready for the big day.

When congregation members gather in the social space to hear Mary Anne present, she is a little nervous; Mary Anne is not a trained public speaker, nor is she an expert on the ACA. Even so, little by little, she loosens up, realizing that this is not a performance, but a sharing. She relays what knowledge she knows, and uses the notes from the CMMS to guide her presentation. The congregation members are genuinely interested in the topic and grateful to Mary Anne and the Navigator for taking the time to explain the ACA to them clearly, and concisely. Mary Anne leaves the space knowing that she’s done good work and taken action for a cause that she believes in.

Scenario #3:

Larry serves on the Vestry of his Church and leads the food pantry program.  Tina, one of the food pantry clients, confides in him that she won't be getting insurance through the Affordable Care Act because she has heard that you need to sign up online and she doesn't have access to a computer.

While Larry provides Tina with the phone number for healthcare.gov (1-800-318-2596), he realizes Tina is probably not alone in thinking online access is required. He works with vestry members and several parishoners to set up a mini-computer lab during the time the food pantry is open so others have access to the HealthCare.gov site. Larry quickly realizes that people had additional questions so he uses the Find Local Help feature to connect with an agency serving his area. They agree to send a Health Care Navigator to assist individuals on specific days and times. Larry also checks with his public library about their resources for ACA sign-up and helps to publicize their offerings.

Matthew Ellis is the CEO of National Episcopal Health Ministries. Jayce Hafner is the Domestic Policy Analyst for The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations