Faith in Health and Healing

Faith in Health and HealingLast week four members of the Livability community mission team went on a conference in Birmingham called Faith in Health and Healing. On the conference website, it was introduced as:

Christians promote a comprehensive experience of health and healing. In this they follow Christ, who spent much of his time amidst the people curing diseases, bringing reconciliation and subverting the powers of oppression. Throughout the following 2000 years, the Church established and maintained hospices and hospitals to offer compassionate care to the sick. Yet this comprehensive ministry is now more detached from the medical establishment. Faith has settled into the private sphere and no longer seems present nor believed to be helpful in the places in which the sick are cared for.

The conference was organised by the Anglican Health Network, and presented something unique. It gave people a chance to see who else is working in the areas they are working in, to team up and share resources. This was a chance to discuss what the churches role is and how we can best use that role to benefit the communities we serve. An opportunity was created for health professionals, church leaders, chaplains and charities working in areas of health to gather and talk about the churches role within communities, concerning health.

It was a fascinating conference, and I confess, I felt significantly out of my depth intellectually. However, it was a time to gather and network, to create an environment in which Christians could discuss what they can do to help improve the health of the communities around them.

DementiaLivability contributed to the conference with two seminars, one discussing Dementia Friendly Churches, where Trevor Adams and I spoke to a group of people about how we can go about creating churches in which those with dementia are welcomed and valued for the unique gifts they bring.

Happy Course

Andy Parnham talked about the Happiness Course, a course that has been developed to help and encourage individuals to look at what it means to live a happy life and the health benefits this can have.

Others spoke on mental health issues, chaplaincy, parish nursing, the use of language within health and many more topics.

One speaker, Professor John Hull spoke on the theology of disability. As a blind man, he spoke of how exclusive much of the language you encounter in both the bible and our own language in church is. Speaking of Amazing Grace, he asked what our reaction would be if the first verse said ‘was black but now is white’ rather than ‘was blind but now I see’.

This prompts us to think and discuss how we speak. Not everyone will agree with what he says, but how we speak is powerful, our words can have a huge effect on the individuals around us. How we speak of illnesses, disabilities and individuals can have an enormous effect on how welcome they feel as part of the community.

This in particular was one of the things I took away from this conference. How can we serve our community in a truly inclusive way, whilst ensuring that we neither water down the gospel, nor lose our integrity?

How do we make sure that those with abilities other than our own, those with disabilities or disadvantage are a welcome and serving member of our community, and at no point are made to feel that their contribution is any less valued than our own?

And finally, how can the church work to become a health resource to the community in a time of increasing cuts and need?

I came away with the understanding that we as a church, have a huge amount to offer. I am left wondering how we use that resource most effectively to answer the question – what is the churches role in Health and Healing?

 

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About Livability Community Engagement

Part of Livability, a national Christian disability and community engagement charity. We are an enabling network, tackling barriers in society to make community livable.
This entry was posted in community, Disability, Katharine Welby, Pause for thought..., Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Faith in Health and Healing

  1. Many churches are now working together in city centres doing “Healing On The Streets”. This is a wonderful opportunity for Christians, and churches, to work together to meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of those walking through our towns and cities on a Saturday. It is a real privilege and blessing being used by God in this way! In our city the Anglicans are the lead church.

  2. Regarding Prof John Hull’s talk, if God inspired the content and language of the original manuscripts of the Bible, (as most of us believe He did), could Prof Hull be incorrect in his assessment regarding ‘how exclusive much of the language you encounter in both the bible…is’ ?

    As for his comments on the song Amazing Grace, being black is not a disability in any way. Racists and bigots lose out a great deal in having their prejudiced view on non-white people. But being blind is and always will be a huge disadvantage & that is why Jesus healed the boy born blind and Bartimaeus in the Scriptures. However, Jesus did say it is better to enter heaven with a disability then hell, whole in body.

    IOHO, our personal circumstances massively influence our opinions. That’s why God says His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways higher than our ways. If we told Prof Hull that there are spiritual roots to physical blindness, would he be interested to look into this, or would he rather continue to criticise the language that God Himself chose to use to communicate to mankind whom He loves?

  3. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

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