Dec. 7, 2018

MOMENTUM GROWS FOR HEALTH PROMOTING CHURCHES .

Judith Johnson-Grant, Jamaica, and other participants perform a stretching exercise to keep their bodies activated through a long day of meetings. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

07 December 2018

“I see this approach of ‘a healthy church’ as a setting that will hopefully go global,” says Dr Suzanne Jackson of the University of Toronto, who directs the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion.

Gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina on 3-5 December, an international group convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) has worked on strengthening efforts and tools for health-promoting churches, particularly to aid churches in integrating health work into their core ministry.

Taking stock of recent resonance on issues of health and healing among churches around the world, WCC programme executive for Health and Healing Dr Mwai Makoka reflected, “We have very good theological foundation for working on health. We are not at a point where we are questioning if churches and Christians should work on heath. We are well beyond that.”

“The churches are ready. The momentum is there. So now, we want to develop tools to make sure churches and religious leaders who have their hearts in a good place, but who do not yet have a health ministry, that we can help outline different interventions they could make,” Makoka added.

Drawing on the examples of churches actively engaged in health-promoting efforts, in Jamaica, the US, and Tonga, the group worked on finding models for congregations to engage in issues of health, particularly in view of a rise in non-communicable diseases – which churches have proven they can be very effective in helping to prevent, if they actively engage congregations and the surrounding community.