Every major community of faith in the world has a tradition of healing ministry.
In America, churches and synagogues created hospitals and cared for the sick and the dying long before the government created Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. In Memphis in particular, churches founded Baptist, Methodist, St. Joseph and St. Francis hospitals. The Med was founded by the Episcopal Church.
In today’s world, the confusion that emanates from Washington dominates healthcare funding decisions. But when it comes to healthcare innovation, the faith community is stirring up a renaissance of their role in the link between body and spirit.
It should be no surprise that Memphis is at the heart of these innovative enterprises. Our church-owned and church-related hospitals along with Christ Community Health Services and the Church Health Center have all garnered national and international attention for their work.
On April 4–7, faith-based healthcare leaders from around the country and the world are coming to Memphis to attend our first-ever Church Health Conference. We will celebrate our accomplishments but, more important, we will plan for the future.
Everyone agrees that funding for healthcare in the days to come will focus on keeping people out of the hospital and in their communities. We will spend less on sick care and more on wellness. We will hear less about subspecialties and more about living well. The financial pressures to change come at a time when our shared mission, the role of the faith community in health and healthcare, is poised to grow significantly.
Andrew Young, civil and human rights leader and former United Nations ambassador, will present our keynote address, 45 years and one day from when he was at the Lorraine Motel with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he was shot. Although Young has led a distinguished career as a politician, he is quick to point out that on that day in Memphis and in his heart, he was and is a minister. His keynote address will be about healing wounds and seeking health in an often unhealthy world.
The depth and breadth of the conference speaks to Memphis’ potential as leaders in the faith-and-health movement. Faith community nurses who work in churches, synagogues and mosques will come from all over the world because the International Parish Nurse Resource Center is now a part of the Church Health Center.
Faith-based clinics modeled after the Church Health Center will gather to discuss new clinics opening all over the country. William Cope Moyers from Hazelden, a pioneer organization in alcohol and addiction treatment, will discuss recovery ministries such as “The Way” led by John Kilzer here in Memphis.
Memphis is a powerful force today, and we will be even more so in the future of the faith-and-health movement. It’s not just Graceland that people will come to see, although we will proudly show it to them. It is the miracle of health and healing that occurs here everyday that has gotten the nation’s attention.
Dr. Scott Morris is the founder and executive director of the Church Health Center and associate minister at St. John’s United Methodist Church. For more information about the Church Health Center, call 901-272-7170 or visit churchhealthcenter.org.