Aug
16
2012
by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

We are now accepting workshop proposals for our 2013 conference, to be held May 9-11 at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Baltimore, MD!

Submit your workshop proposal here!

-Be still and know I am God.  

Aug
16
2012
by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

This post is part two of a series of posts highlighting General Convention resolutions passed in 2012 that are relevant to the work of National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM) and National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC).

Resolution A165 affirms the importance of HIV and AIDS ministry in the Church and urges parish health ministry programs to include HIV and AIDS education as a component of their ongoing programming. This resolution also calls on National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC) and National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM) to compile appropriate secular and theological resources for this programming, including, but not limited to, reliable, culturally- and age-appropriate HIV and AIDS prevention materials, with an emphasis on the role of behavior in reducing risks for HIV infection. 

Commentary:
HIV and AIDS continues to evolve; a diagnosis of HIV infection does not mean the same as it once did. As our understanding of the disease changes, so do our reactions and our perceptions of its effects. Unfortunately, many who are now at risk do not see an urgent need for prevention in their behavior or exposure to the virus. I have often heard from young people comments about HIV/AIDS being 'manageable' or that if they become infected they can 'just take medicine'.

We have an opportunity to address these misunderstandings and impressions about HIV and AIDS from a health perspective. In educating our parishes and communities on the reality of HIV and AIDS, we will not only encourage appropriate behavior to reduce risk, but address issues of stigma as well. I believe that our health ministry programs already at work in parishes are an ideal mechanism through which to conduct these efforts. Resolution A165 urges HIV and AIDS education to be included in our health ministry programs. 

* Photo by TeachAIDS

 

Aug
10
2012
by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/resolution-a163-monitoring-hiv-guide">Resolution A163: Monitoring HIV Guide</a></h1>

This post is part one of a series of posts highlighting General Convention resolutions passed in 2012 that are relevant to the work of National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM) and National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC).

Click here for full text of Resolution A163: Monitoring HIV Guide

This resolution commends the document HIV, Health & Holiness: A Guide for The Episcopal Church and directs NEAC to establish baseline data for current practices throughout the Church related to this Guide.

Commentary:
Many times, the explanation of a resolution can provide critical context for the resolutions itself; such is the case here. NEAC spent significant effort attempting to meet the goal of Resolution A162 (2008), which called for a domestic strategy meeting to develop a comprehensive response to the HIV and AIDS crisis by the Episcopal Church. Unfortunately, this meeting was unable to be realized, but NEAC's Board of Directors decided to develop a plan that, while somewhat less ambitious than a comprehensive plan for the entire Church, might still encourage and inspire our parishes to address this critical issue.

This response, now the HIV, Health & Holiness Guide linked above, is the basis for Resolution A163. It is not enough simply to develop a plan, put it on a shelf, and congratulate each other on addressing that issue. Indeed, to expend effort on that kind of work provides a false sense of accomplishment and an excuse to ignore critical issues by pretending something has been done. This resolution attempts to assist in implementation of this guide and provide a mechanism through which NEAC can report on its progress.

I hope you will spend time with the guide. I think it is a valuable document with the potential to inspire real transformation in our parishes. However, this can only be accomplished if our church institutions and individuals engage with it and attempt to implement it. Many of the suggestions in the plan are simple and require little effort. This does not mean they are not worth doing; indeed, even engaging in the thought of performing these actions can inspire empathy and open our hearts. It is my hope we will do much more than merely think about these actions. It is my hope that we will live into these goals and change our church permanently, ultimately enhancing the lives of us all.

Aug
10
2012
by   |   comments

 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.

Healing Horizions: Abundant Health Given Through the Power of Giving

In the midst of a Multiple Sclerosis flare up, Cami Walker took a mentor’s advice and gave 29 gifts in 29 days. The more she gave, the more she experienced abundance, improved health and overall healing. Dr. Paula King, licensed psychologist at Healing Horizons, explains about the science behind Cami’s miracle. 

How can Cami’s experience empower you, your ministry, your congregation and community?

How Gardens Heal Your Body, Mind, Spirit

Gardens are popping up in the most unsuspecting places: corporate offices, hospitals, seniors centers, government buildings. They connect people and feed faith, through the experience of working together, planting seeds and watching them grow. How might a parish garden bring together your congregation and community? Find out more about how gardens heal.

Julian Pantry feeding the hungry in San Francisco’s Mission District

Many of Julian Pantry’s customers are now volunteering to help run the San Francisco Mission District-based food bank; organizers are encouraging volunteers to step up into leadership roles. Julian Pantry is just one of the food pantries supported with Jubilee Ministry Health and Nutrition grants. Find out how other ministries are reaching out.

Complement Congregational Activities With Help From Older Adult Ministries 

How can you honor and apply the wisdom and knowledge of older adults in your parish and community? Older Adult Ministries has many ideas and resources, from elder abuse to the spirituality of aging and best practices for your congregation.
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Terra Hoskins contributes to the NEHM and NEAC blog on a freelance basis. Drawing from her background in sales, communications and Internet marketing, she helps organizations create an online presence and use the Internet to expand business. Follow Terra on her blog: http://terrahoskins.com/ and on Twitter: @terrahoskins.

Aug
07
2012
by   |   comments

General Convention is a pivotal event in the Episcopal Church. I tagged along to see the event in action, and later sat down with Matthew Ellis, chief executive officer of National Episcopal Health Ministries, to talk about his work and how it intersects with the the General Convention.

Hi Matt, thanks for taking time to talk about this. What is your role as CEO of National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM)?

As the only full-time employee for NEHM, it’s my job to direct the mission and vision. I work with the board of directors to accomplish those objectives. I’m responsible for all program coordination, fundraising, convention presence, partnership relations and communications.

What are your goals going into General Convention and how did you prepare?

Going into General Convention, there were several resolutions I think we had targeted, 14 or so, that we wanted to track because they were health-related in some fashion. We wanted to either impact the outcome of them, typically by having them adopted, or observe and communicate about them. My goal with every General Convention and meeting is to make contacts and explore partnerships, raise visibility of NEHM in the church and make sure people are aware and understand the good work we are trying to do.

So as the General Convention approached, you knew you had these goals in mind. How did you prepare?

I try to make sure I am knowledgeable about resolutions we’re tracking and those I am testifying about. I try to make sure I understand why the resolution is being proposed and that I form an opinion about it, that I can see why it’s necessary, why it’s important, what community or nationwide statistics impact the resolution—and what outcomes the church hopes to realize if it’s passed.

Yes, and I’ve seen you in action testifying; I can understand why you love the act of engaging with people, developing partnerships, presenting ideas, testifying. You’re good at it.

Well, thanks! What I really love is connecting with people, both individually and at General Convention. I think the process our church uses to establish its position on issues and chart a course for the future is fascinating and messy and awkward and public and wonderful in the same breath. I enjoy being part of it, I feel privileged and honored to be able to contribute my voice to church positions. I’m personally energized by General Convention. I find it to be a fascinating experience.

It’s hard to be effective on your own when you have a big job to do, that’s why we have partnerships. Who do you work with/partner with? How do you approach finding partners in the church?

We do have limited resources. I am the only full-time employee, so it’s critical for us to have partnerships at many levels to get things done, get our message out. Personally, my philosophy is that we do this best by being valuable to other people and to other organizations. For me, it’s about finding where we can be of service and help organizations with their mission, as long as it is compatible with our own. I’ve found that to be a wonderful way to identify partners. A few examples are the Older Adult Ministries Task Force and FOCUS, which stands for Families of Clergy United in Support. We’ve worked with both groups to develop guides for ministry and promote messages. We’re helping these organizations, and our audience benefits as well: these guides are valuable to them, too. To me, a good candidate for partnership is anyone we can help. My hope is by helping them and strengthening their ministry and message, we strengthen ours as well.

Describe a day at General Convention. How do you spend your time?

I’m not sure that everyone’s day looks like my day. But I’ll tell you what a day at General Convention is like for me, personally. My day starts at 7:15 a.m. I arrive and sign up to testify at a resolution hearing. I then wait in one of the ballrooms for my opportunity to speak. The committee chair will go through the resolutions that are being heard that morning. At some point I’ll be called; I’ll offer my testimony.

I typically wait around through the next couple of testimonies to make sure questions don’t crop up. But once I’m done testifying, I’ll move on to a different hearing and offer testimony there. By this time, the exhibit booths are up and running. I work with the NEHM booth—we’re fortunate enough to partner with the Episcopal Church Medical Trust on this. We structured the booth as an oasis, so there are plants and comfortable couches—and we have volunteer nurses taking blood pressures. In the afternoons, we offer free chair massages. It’s a very popular area for people to stop by and relax a bit, claim some quiet space in the midst of the exhibit hall. With the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition booth, it’s a little bit different. It’s an opportunity to display the AIDS quilt and to promote our resources, our website—a new format for the website, things that people might not be aware of. I find that the AIDS booth is a terrific place to spend time; a lot of people stop by to tell us about a quilt panel that was made for their brother or cousin or someone...we often hear some really touching stories. It’s really affirming. It reminds me of the individual ministry and its affect on people.

It humanizes...

Exactly.

Kind of personally poignant.

Yeah, it really is. I spend a lot of time in my office or on the road talking to groups of people. But at General Convention—the AIDS booth especially—really gives me the chance to hear people’s stories and connect the ministry with direct service work.

That’s interesting. I wouldn’t have known that, which is why I’m asking you now! (laughs)

So we started the morning with resolution hearings, then the exhibit hall opens...much of my day is spent in the exhibit hall and tracking resolutions. We keep track of resolutions as they move through the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, keep people informed—sometimes committee chairs ask us for background information, that kind of thing. And once the exhibit hall closes down, that’s when my networking time really comes into play. It’s a great time to see everyone at once, so I meet up with people I may not have the opportunity to otherwise. Usually I’ll arrange at least two or three meetings for the evening. I typically work until 11:30 p.m. or so, meeting with people, talking about initiatives, plans, partnership ideas. Then I head back home, because fortunately this year the General Convention was in Indianapolis. I get started around 7:00 a.m. or 7:15 a.m. the next morning.

That’s a lot to do! This time around, how was it different?

For me, personally, it was much more calm. The 2009 General Convention in Anaheim was my first one. I didn’t have a good understanding of what to expect. I had never actually seen anyone testifying at a resolution hearing, I didn’t understand the schedules, how the hearings run early in the morning into the evenings—let alone all of the work that needs to be done in addition. So this time, I felt much more prepared. It wasn’t nearly as chaotic as my last convention, and maybe some of that is familiarity with the host city. I was the one who could tell everyone about a great place to eat that wasn’t in the directory. The home court advantage was nice. I just felt that I had a much better understanding of what was going to happen. It made the entire effort easier.

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These were Matt’s initial thoughts after the 2012 General Convention. But we have much more information to share in the coming weeks. Come back to hear more from Matt about resolution outcomes and what they mean for your parish.
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Terra Hoskins contributes to the NEHM and NEAC blog on a freelance basis. Drawing from her background in sales, communications and Internet marketing, she helps organizations create an online presence and use the Internet to expand business. Follow Terra on her blog: http://terrahoskins.com/ and on Twitter: @terrahoskins.