"Healthy Connections" - Certified Lay Minister of Health Program

 What is "Healthy Connections?"

The Healthy Connections Training Program was designed in response to General Synod 21 - "Reclaiming the Church's Ministry of Health and Healing.  It is a program designed to identify and train lay ministers of health church as "Healthy Connectors" who will share health information with members of their congregations, identify congregational health needs, and develop activities to address those needs. One specific goal of the training will be to establish or enhance Health Ministries in their churches.

The training program has its foundation in the mission of the United Church of Christ in Health and Human Services.  This mission is rooted in the ministry of Jesus Christ and empowered by God's spirit. This mission calls upon UCC congregations to commit and engage in the following ministries:

1) education and nurture within the Church for healthy, wholistic ways of living:

2) direct service through local congregations, associations, conferences, institutions and service agencies of the Church; and

3) advocacy and empowerment.

This mission belongs to the whole church—to all who have been called by God in Christ. The partners are many. Where the Church is, there is the mission. Where the Church is, there are those who have been called to live "for the sake of the other."

Healthy Connections embodies the meaning of restoration. Restoring each other spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. We are the "Connectors." We must develop connections with one another in order to restore soundness, wholeness, health. Healthy Connections denotes a covenant to nurture and support each other, to aide each other, to lift each other, to pray for and with each other, to affirm each other, to educate each other, to love each other—to do all of these things that make us whole persons. Isaiah 58:12 says that we "shall be called the Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." We are the ones who will build up the breaches in our communities, our churches, our cities and states.

PLEASE NOTE: This training is NOT designed to replace or detract from a congregation's Parish Nurse Program. It is designed to enhance and support existing programs.

Who are "Healthy Connectors?"

Healthy Connectors are trained lay leaders in their churches who make a tremendous impact on the health and wellness of their congregations. "Healthy Connectors" may work with the congregation's parish nurse or be a part of the health ministry committee to make connections with the members in order to restore soundness, wholeness and health.

How do you identify lay ministers of health?

Involve the pastor, parish nurse and other church organizations to identify and choose at least (3) participants from each church who:

are natural leaders, who are respected in their church and community others turn to for advice and help

are currently members of the health ministry committee

are interested in health issues

are willing to attend and complete all training sessions

are not necessarily a member of the health care or medical profession

The training cycle

The training cycle consists of three (4) 7-hour Saturday sessions that are facilitated by the Minister for Health Care Justice and local health or allied health professionals. Minimal registration is requested to cover food and copying.

Training Objectives

Persons selected will be trained to:

1. Understand the connection between spirituality and health

2. Conduct health information and referral sessions for their congregations

3. Identify health needs within the congregation

4. Understand the role of screening and assessment in a church

5. Identify and utilize existing resources in the church for conducting health ministry activities

6. Identify and collaborate with existing health and social service organizations in the community

7. Recognize risk factors associated with key health problems

8. Recommend ways to assist members of the congregation in detecting, managing and preventing these health problems

Training Content

1. The Lay Advisor Approach to Congregational Health Ministry

2.  Connections between Spirituality, Faith and Heath

3.  Health Disparities

4.  Healthy Lifestyles 101

5.  Community Voices - Leadership Development

6. Listening and Empowerment Skills

7. Health Care Justice Advocacy

8. Healthy People 2010

9. Starting /Enhancing Your Health Ministry and Conducting a Congregational Assessment

10.  Special Sessions from the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Foundation and Local Health            Department

All Training Sessions provide hands-on activities, discussion and practice time for skill building.

Completion of Training

Upon completion of the training, participants will graduate and will be certified as "Healthy Connectors" within their respective churches. They will partner and affiliate with the Health Care Justice Program of Justice and Witness Ministries to conduct health-related activities in their churches and communities with the goal of reducing chronic and communicable diseases and to restore and renew health.

More information:
Healthy Connections Bulletin
Lay Health Minister Concept
Why A Health Ministry?
Congregational Health Ministry Registry
General Synod 21 Resolution - Reclaiming the Church's Ministry of Health and Healing
Healthy Connections' Graduation Classes

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CONTACT INFO

Ms. Barbara T. Baylor
Policy Advocate for Health and Wholeness Issues
100 Maryland Avenue, NE
Suite 300
Washington, District of Columbia 20002
202-543-1517
baylorb@ucc.org