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Faith in Health and Healing: Reintegrating the church with heatlh services

From the Anglican Health Network 1st February 2012, Geneva

The Anglican Health Network (AHN) today announced plans for a major conference in Birmingham, UK, in April 2013. "Christians promote a comprehensive experience of health and healing", states Revd Paul Holley, coordinator of the AHN. "However, this comprehensive ministry is now largely detached from the medical establishment. Faith has tended to settle into the private sphere and no longer pervades the places in which the sick are cared for."

The conference will draw from evidence suggesting that in many instances, faith and health are being reunited, "Clergy and lay people now not only pray for the sick and offer pastoral care; they promote healthy lifestyles, offer support groups for those with addictions or mental health problems and provide secure environments in which distressed people can find fresh hope. In some cases, parishes work with NHS primary care organisations to offer innovative services to educate and support people in attaining a better level of health". The conference programme will bring focus to the wide variety of health and healing initiatives offered by parishes, healing agencies and Christian health professionals throughout the country.

AHN has drawn together a range of partner organisations and experienced individuals that are at the forefront of a renewal in the health care and healing ministries of the church. In particular, through their more holistic approach to health and healing, partner organisations have demonstrated improved recovery rates when the healing environment addresses the emotional, spiritual, psychological and physical conditions of the person together. Their 'whole-person' approach to health care adds further value by also nurturing a more resilient and hopeful sense of well-being amongst their clients.

The conference will also consider the quality of religious and spiritual care in health services, "Hospital chaplains come alongside distressed patients and staff with prayer, reassurance and pastoral support", remarks Revd Holley, but he notes that, "Christian health professionals are now themselves seeking new avenues to reconnect the scientific with the spiritual. GP practices offer spiritual support from their surgeries. Parish nurses work with churches to strengthen the interaction between pastoral care and health services".

The conference programme will be shaped by the following three themes:

  • Health, dying and human flourishing
  • The healing ministries of the church amongst individuals and communities
  • The church in the governance and delivery of health services

A panel of experts is due to meet at the Anglican Communion Office on the 3rd February to consider these in detail and to offer further guidance to help set the conference agenda. The panel is made up of the following members:

  • Dr. Luke Bretherton, Reader in Theology and Politics at Kings College
  • Hannah Clifton, Chair, ME Trust . Professor Chris Cook, Director of the Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University
  • Professor Grace Davie, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Exeter University
  • Dr. Jamie Harrison, GP, Deputy Director of Postgraduate School of Primary Care for the

Northern Deanery

  • Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Rector of Sutton team ministry, former Chief Nurse
  • Dr. Andrew Todd, Director of Chaplaincy Studies, St. Michael's, LLandaff
  • Dr. Paul Worthley, Senior Physician, Burrswood Hospital

The panel will be joined by two representatives of the Church of Norway: Dr. Kjell Nordstokke, Professor of Theology, Diakonhjemmet University College and Revd Johan Arnt Wenaas. They will share their experience of church hospitals in the Norwegian health system, and explore with the panel how the push towards local primary care services might provide parishes with a creative opportunity to inject a more holistic partnership between faith and health.

The conference will take place at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham International Airport in the week beginning 22nd April 2013.

The partner organisations include:

  • Anglican Health Network
  • The Guild of Health
  • Burrswood Hospital
  • Acorn Christian Healing Foundation . Parish Nursing UK . St. Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre
  • Project for Spirituality, Theology & Health, University of Durham
  • Holy Rood House
  • Wholecare

Individual members of the planning group include:

  • Dr. Sandy Bradbrook, former CEO, Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust . Professor Helen Leathard,
  • Professor Emeritus, University of Cumbria, member of the General Synod of the Church of England
  • Dr. Peter Rookes, researcher, international Christian health mission

The organisation of the event has been made possible through the financial support of the Guild of Health. For further information, please contact Revd Paul Holley: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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