|Invitation from Collegium|
Adapted for Latino CongregationsAlimentandose Justamente Guia del Lider
Alimentandose Justamente - Middle School
Adapted for African American Congregations
“Just Eating? While this phrase could mean only eating, the word, just, also means ‘being honorable and fair in one’s dealings.’ This play on words captures a paradox that this curriculum addresses. Eating can be a mundane activity done with little thought or reflection; or it can be an opportunity to thoughtfully live out our faith and practice justice.” [Excerpted from Just Eating Leader’s Guide]
Just Eating? Practicing Our Faith at the Table is a seven-session curriculum for congregations that call us to integrate the commitments and practices of our faith into the way we eat. The study uses scripture, prayer and stories from the local and global community to explore five key aspects of our relationship with food.
- Food sharing as sacramental
- The health of our bodies
- The access others have to food
- The health of the earth, which our food choices influence
- The ways we use food to extend hospitality and enrich relationships
The objectives of this curriculum are to:
- Bring into dialog our day-to-day eating habits, the Christian faith, and the needs of the broader world.
- Explore faith practices which encourage healthful eating.
- Support each other in taking personal and group action that reaches beyond this seven-week curriculum.
The curriculum comes with a Leader Guide and a book of Readings for Action and Reflection. The Leader’s Guide is laid out in an easy-to-follow format. It includes suggested lesson plans, leader resources and ideas for an optional meal that groups may want to share.
Participants are invited to read in the Readings for Action and Reflection in between sessions. The reading book includes five days of readings for each session which bring together a scripture text, a reflection on the text, and a contemporary reading. It also provides suggested Faith in Action and Healthy Eating Tips and resources for exploring the topic further. The reading book can also be used as a devotional guide on its own.
While the Just Eating? curriculum was designed for small groups of 6-12 people who have about one hour, it is meant to be flexible so that congregations can use it in the way that is best for them. For instance, the Leader Guide includes tips for leading the sessions if you only have 45 minutes, if your group is larger than twelve people, if you have five sessions instead of seven, etc.
The Collegium invites and encourages all conferences, associations and congregations to participate and engage in dialogue and discussion during the Lenten Season using the Just Eating? curriculum.
The Just Eating ciriculum is a collaboration of Advocate Health Care – Congregational Health Partnerships, Church World Service - End Hunger Program, and Presbyterian Church (USA) – Food and Faith.
'Hospice is about living, not dying'
Frequently, as a hospice chaplain, I am asked, "Why not a different ministry? Why that one?"
It is a complicated question with a simple answer. My soul is passionate about hospice. It is a privilege to partner with patients and families during this tender time of sacred discovery.
As an interfaith hospice chaplain, I have the opportunity to work with the full breadth of our world's religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism, including many major and subtle variations. I also work with agnostic people and atheists (who are spiritual in their own right, since they have invested extraordinary thought into "not being religious.") When people make the hospice decision, and qualify for it, they are choosing to live out the rest of their lives with dignity. People are freed from enduring further medical procedures that are not arresting the disease. Medical intervention for symptom management takes the front seat. The renewed focus is on acceptance, care, comfort, dignity and a sense of peacefulness that stems from the very core of their being - their soul.
I often tell patients that our body is the "apartment" for our soul. Although our physical body is failing, our soul may thrive. The language of our soul is meaning. We may re-discover our soul when a poor medical prognosis awakens a need for deeper meaning in us. Spirituality, or life meaning-making, becomes front and center at perhaps a deeper level than before.
In hospice, the patient is back in charge with the support of loved ones and the hospice interdisciplinary team: physicians, RNs, home health aids, social workers and chaplains. Team members travel to the patients' homes, wherever "home" may be: private residence, assisted living, skilled nursing facility or hospital.
Hospice is about living, not dying. We focus on the distinction between curing and healing. While curing eliminates disease, healing focuses on wholeness and peacefulness as we journey toward the end of life. Curative measures may see death as failure. Healing includes death as one of the sacred, natural outcomes of life.
We connect with our vulnerability when we identify our needs for wholeness. Our journey may include releasing old hurts through forgiveness of ourselves and others. We recognize that forgiveness is a gift to ourselves. It does not suggest that we are compromising our dignity or our sense of right or wrong. Rather, we are claiming peacefulness for ourselves - setting our soul free from spiritual unrest.
Re-claiming wellness includes embracing freedom from our devastating medical diagnoses. We own our terminal diagnosis, while at the same time, we claim healing as we work toward our sense of peacefulness. In this process we may begin to deepen and transform our understanding of hope.
Hospice engages hope. It does not let go of hope. I believe God is our infinite, self-renewing source of hope. Our hope may transform as our healing deepens. Our hope may be to have time alone with each of our loved ones. It may be to reconcile a relationship that fell off the track somewhere along the way in our lives. We may have come to realize that it is a relationship we hope to rekindle as part of healing.
Our journey toward peacefulness may involve anger along the way. But is it really anger. It certainly sounds like anger! It may be anger. Anger is easier for us to access than our sadness. It may be profound sadness.
I often sit with patients or family members in silence. I think of it as "relational silence" because there is an awful lot going on. It isn't being articulated, but it is voiced through sacred silence. "Be still and know that I am God!" (Psalm 46: 10a).
When we release our loved one to go, it is an expression of wellness or healing. As a loved one, we face anticipatory grief during this time. It is profoundly sad to be left behind. Perhaps the deepest expression of love is to give our loved one "permission" to go when she or he is ready.
Life is forever altered when a loved one passes on. We learn to carry our grief as part of who we are. We cherish the beautiful gifts that our departed loved ones have given us - gifts of who they were and how they loved us. As people who have been left behind, we own those beloved, intangible gifts forever. In recognition of this trying time, hospice follows patients, families and loved ones for 13 months following death. Support groups may be available indefinitely.
I understand hospice as a gift we give ourselves once medical treatment modalities are no longer helpful. A peaceful passing with the hospice patient is a drawing in and eventual surrender to God. It is natural. It is sacred. What a deep privilege it is to serve in this resilient ministry of life.
The Rev. Janet M. White, affiliated clergy with Trinitarian Congregational UCC in Concord, Mass., is a staff hospice chaplain for All Care Hospice, a subsidiary of Health Management Services, Inc., in Lynn, Mass.
What is hospice?
Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury, hospice provides expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to meet a patient's needs and wishes.
Hospice focuses on caring, not curing. In most cases, care is provided in the patient's home.
What services are typically offered?
• An interdisciplinary care team works in concert to:
• Manage the patient's pain and symptoms;
• Assist the patient with the emotional and psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying;
• Provide needed drugs, medical supplies, and equipment;
• Coach the family on how to care for the patient;
• Deliver special services like speech and physical therapy when needed.
• Make short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time.
• Provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends.
Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
I weep for the hurt of my people; I stand amazed silent, dumb with grief. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why doesn't God do something? Why doesn't He help? —Jeremiah 8:21-22 (Living Bible Translation)
Today many Americans die and are disabled from health conditions that are greatly impacted by lifestyle behaviors. In fact, 54% of our health status is a result of lifestyle choices. These conditions might be prevented or better managed if we 1) knew the risks associated with many health problems, 2) believed that healthy activities could be beneficial, and 3) could receive appropriate health care services and resources. Lifestyle changes that can improve the quality of life have been identified as engaging in consistent moderate exercise; cessation from smoking and other addictions; consuming a diet high in fiber, and low in fat and cholesterol; increasing social support; and actively managing stress.
Today, several of the leading causes of death—Heart Disease, Cancers, Strokes, Injuries, Chronic Lung Disease, Pneumonia/Influenza, Diabetes, Suicide, HIV/AIDS, Homicide, Liver Disease—are considered "lifestyle" diseases because they could be reduced through common sense changes in lifestyle. Oftentimes we speculate on or presume to know the causes of these "lifestyle" diseases and disabilities from specific behaviors exhibited by the individual at risk. For example, the person who suffers a heart attack might consume a diet high in saturated fat, engage in little or no exercise and might smoke. The person involved in a motor vehicle accident might have been speeding or consuming alcohol. Perhaps the person was not wearing a seatbelt. These are examples of things that we observe and speculate on and, when a family member, loved one or friend whose death, disease, disability is caused by a specific behavioral action, we discuss and share with one another our own need to "do better" or admit that we "need to make some changes." Sadly, the time for making needed changes in our own lives gets pushed on the back burner until a crisis hits.
And then there are those diseases that often go undetected until it is too late—sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness, lovelessness, insecurities, personal guilt and persecution, abandonment, discouragement, low self-esteem and image, stress, depression, and a broken heart (to name a few). These are symptoms of pending disability and serious health change if they continue to go undetected. These are the diseases that we often cannot readily observe. They are masked. People are masking these emotions because they fear rejection if anyone really knew what they were going through—if anyone knew the "real deal". People are masking these emotions because society teaches us to be strong and to "pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps". We are taught to laugh on the outside and not to let anyone see us cry. There is so much pain. Pain so deep that we cannot pull ourselves up or call out for help to anyone. We cry out in anguish "Oh God, help me"!
It is in the context of these often "undetected" diseases that the emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions of health must further emerge. It is in these three dimensions that the church must take the lead role. For many, health is narrowly defined and specifically targeted to one dimension—the physical. Health consists of five dimensions—physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual. An individual is considered healthy when all of these dimensions are working together in harmony. Because healing does not necessarily mean curing (as we tend to think), a Health Ministry in a congregation involves emotional, mental and spiritual healing which can occur during illness even when curing of the disease is not present. Galatians 5:15 reminds us to "Love our neighbors, as ourselves". As Christians we are called to love as Jesus Christ has loved. We are called to service, as Jesus Christ served. We have the responsibility to minister to those in need. In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:37-40) Jesus invites the righteous (the sheep) to receive their inheritance by entering the kingdom which has been prepared for them because of their faithful service and unselfish, compassionate giving. ("I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me"). We should strive to be sheep.
Can the church make a difference in reducing disability and death? The church today still represents a natural point of reference for many communities. It is because it is a natural reference point that focusing health promotion and disease prevention activities should be given careful thought. "We are finding that all the 'expert and expensive health care solutions' still do not guarantee better health outcomes and quality of life. It may be that to mobilize, educate, and coordinate resources through congregations works better". It is not a new idea for churches to develop health programs whose purpose is to have an impact upon the most significant health risks and crippling health conditions in congregations. However, it is an increasingly important one as health care funding and services gradually shrink. Local churches can help address the need for more appropriate and accessible health care services and the inadequacy of our health care system. In addition, the local church can bring a holistic perspective to an understanding of health as being in harmony with self, others, the environment, and God. Health is a continuum of physical, social, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
Today, social service and social action are seen as integral and complementary forms of ministry. Church-related social services and institutions serve many needs. Church-related social action and policy formation cover a wide range of contemporary issues which include: urban life, poverty, housing, health care, family life, women's issues, child care, aging, hospice, racial and ethnic concerns, needs of handicapped persons, peace, and refugees and immigration. As both social services and social action ministries remain faithful to God's vision of shalom, they will respond to the changing needs and new possibilities among people and within society, working always toward liberation from life's bondage and reconciliation of the alienated. The development of health ministries within the congregation helps focus the members' awareness on the essential Christian ministry of health and healing.
When health ministries are an essential part of congregational life, the members:
A. Find opportunities to volunteer their help to those who are in the hospital, or those who are home bound or living in residential care centers;
B. Have the opportunity to learn about wellness and disease prevention. Healthy lifestyle choices are promoted through seminar and workshops, giving information in such arease as exercise, nutrition and handling stress;
C. Through health screening, make early detection and treatment possible; and
D. Provide appropriate resources and advocacy to individuals and community.
A health ministry can promote healing and health as wholeness, as a mission of a faith community to its members and the community it serves. This takes a variety of people, paid and volunteer, laity and clergy, all committed to sharing the compassionate love and grace of Jesus Christ.
As we weep for the hurt and pain of each as we stand in amazement, silent, and dumb with grief; as we wonder if there is medicine in Gilead; as we wonder if there is a physician there; as we wonder if God is going to do something or if God will help, God will, for God is the ultimate Balm in Gilead. But, God also wants us to be a Balm, a healing salve. Developing a health ministry does not require vast sums of money. It only requres us to become the body of Christ. We must have the compassion of Christ, the heart of Christ, the soul of Christ, and most importantly, the love of Christ.
The UCC Faith Community Nurse Network is under the auspices of the Health Care Justice Program, Justice and Witness Ministries
Rev. Amos Acree, RN
Wendy Merriman, MA, RN
Rebecca (Becky) Anton, MSN, RN
Linda Morgan, BSN, RN
Alyson Breisch, MSN, RN-BC
Deborah Ringen, MSN, RN-BC
Courtney Holmes, APRN, ANP-BC, RN-BC
Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo, RN
Peggy Matteson, PhD, RN-BC
Lisa Thomas, RN,
"UCC Faith Community Nurse Network: Linking and Touching Lives for Healing and Wholeness."
An Informational Manual on Faith Community Nurse Ministry Within the United Church of Christ. Revised 2015.
The development of programs of health ministry and the role of the faith community nurse continues to evolve. To provide only a list of specific resources would be limiting since it can very quickly go out of date. For that reason we have provide a combination of both general resources as well as some specifics. It is by no means meant to be an all inclusive list.
Since each of our UCC churches is an independent entity and is populated by individuals with different gifts and needs, each health ministry program has commonality, but it also is by necessity unique to that congregation. As you investigate and then develop a health ministry you may find the following sources of information and resources helpful.
- Health Ministries Association www.HMAssoc.org 800-723-4291
- American Nurse Association www.nursingworld.org 800-274-4262
The faith community nurse bridges two disciplines and as such must be prepared in and responsible to both. Educational offerings in nursing have expanded along a continuum to now range from continuing education programs with extensive contact hours to baccalaureate and graduate level nursing courses.
Some theological schools and universities offer courses or programs of study for nurses that provide education on spiritual and pastoral care. Some educational programs are offered within facilities and others are offered on-line
UCC and Other Educational Programs
- At the Conference and Area levels of the UCC there are educational opportunities. Call your Conference office to learn what is going on and what support they might have for your efforts.
- Contact a FCN from the FCN Leadership Network or someone in your area on Membership List to learn of opportunities.
- Contact the office for your State's Council of Churches to learn of any opportunities.
Professional Nursing Conferences
The Health Ministries Association Annual Conference, The Westberg Symposium, and increasingly nursing research and specialty practice conferences provide opportunities to learn from colleagues in the field.
Educational Resource Centers
Educational resources centers have developed all over the country. One of the first was the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. This center developed a curriculum that is taught in various sites. To learn where these continuing education offerings are available go to the website www.ipnrc.parishnurses.org.
*Please note that although participating in a program may provide you with a certificate, it does not grant you the status of certification/being certified. The certificate you may receive is only a certificate of attendance. The way to become Certified as a Faith Community Nurse is through the American Nurse Credentialing Center.
PUBLISHERS AND OTHER SUPPLIERS OF MATERIALS
Keeping up to date with the release of new books, videos, and manuals that support our work is an ongoing task. The following list of publishers and their current books gives you a sampling of what kind of supports are available both from diverse groups.
United Church of Christ Resources www.uccresources.com
Pilgrim Press www.thepilgrimpress.com
Abingdon Press www.abingdonpress.com
Augsburg/Fortress Press www.augsburgfortress.org
Elsevier / Mosby www.elsevier.com
Haworth Press www.haworthpressinc.com
Health Ministries Association www.HMAssoc.org
International Parish Nurse Resource Center www.ipnrc.parishnurses.org
Jones and Bartlett www.jbpub.com
Judson Press www.judsonpress.com
Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins www.lww.com
Morehouse Publishing www.morehousegroup.com
Prentice Hall www.prenhall.com/nursing
The Partnership Center – Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services http://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/staff-divisions/iea/partnerships/newsletter/index.html
Health Finder – Live Well. Learn How. http://healthfinder.gov
The UCC Faith Community Nurse Network (formerly the Parish Nurse Network)
aims to promote health ministry through parish nursing in congregations and communities,
as the visible presence and voice of parish nurses in the United Church of Christ.
Full implementation of the resolution "Reclaiming the Church's Ministry of Health and Healing" adopted by the 21st General Synod of the UCC (1997-Columbus).
To inform and engage UCC congregations in ministries of health and healing for the benefit of each congregation and the community it serves.
Goals of the UCC Faith Community Nurse Network
- Serve as a spiritual care resource to the leadership of the UCC by promoting and supporting activities of health, healing, and wholeness within our congregations and the communities served.
- Make available to all UCC FCNs information and opportunities for programming so that congregants learn how to become active health care consumers.
- Inform and engage congregations, associations, and conferences in facilitating individualized and distinct responses to the Resolution.
- Collaborate with the other health focused groups of the UCC National Office to create a synergic effort of information sharing for the benefit of all.
Full members: Professional registered nurses, actively licensed, that serve (or are interested in serving) as a Faith Community Nurse (paid or non-paid) who are members of UCC congregations and/or who serve congregations of the UCC.
Associate members of the Network may include may include other health care professionals, clergy, Christian educators, and others interested in congregational health ministry and supporting the practice of faith community nursing.
- Updating the UCC Faith Community Nurse Network’s Manual on Faith Community Nursing
- Developing posts on the UCC Faith Community Nurse Network’s webpage
- Supporting Faith Community Nurses seeking Commissioning as Authorized Ministers in the UCC
- Supporting Faith Community Nurses seeking Board Certification as Faith Community Nurses from the American Nurse Credentialing Center
- Serving on the working groups that developed the current and previous editions of Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standard of Practice for the American Nurses Association and Health Ministries Association
Resolution: Reclaiming the Church's Ministry of Health and Healing
Health is harmony with self and others, the environment, and with God—a continuum of physical, social, psycological, and spiritual well-being. Health ministry is the promotion of healing and health as wholeness as a mission of a faith community to its members and the community it serves. Health partners are many, both paid and volunteer, laity and clergy, all are committed to sharing the compassionate love and grace of Jesus Christ through the health and healing ministries of the UCC.
The health minister/parish nurse serves as a member of the ministry team of the local church. The health minister (a person having a health care background that may or may not be a parish nurse) facilitates the promotion of health and healing via health educational programs, spiritual care, referrals to appropriate health care providers, as well as through support groups and personal health counseling. The parish nurse, a registered profesional nurse, promotes health and wholeness through the practice of nursing as defined by the nurse practice act in the jurisdiction in which he/she practices. Parish nurses function as health counselors, resource persons, spiritual caregivers, health educators, small group facilitators, and coordinators of health ministry volunteers.
WHEREAS, recognizing many illnesses and premature deaths may be prevented by lifestyle choices and belief systems, (i.e. diet, exercise, substance abuse, violence, and risk-taking behaviors), health ministers/parish nurses integrate current medical and behavioral knowledge with the belief and practices of a faith community to prevent illness and promote wholeness; and
WHEREAS, the UCC Statement of Health and Welfare (1985) states that, "Based on our understanding of Shalom—of God's intent for harmony and wholeness within creation—and on the examples of Jesus Christ's ministry which expressed God's intent through acts of love and justice, we must be committed as a church to a mission of Shalom and to a lifestyle compatible with that mission;" and
WHEREAS, essential elements of a health ministry/parish nursing program include (but are not limited to):
- a philosophy of health and wholeness as a part of the faith community's mission;
- a designated person or team to be concerned about health ministry;
- a commitment to continued learning regarding health and wellness issues;
- a process to develop and evaluate health and wholeness goals and objectives;
- health education and programming according to assessed health needs of the congregation;
- awareness of health and wellness celebrations designated in the UCC calendar; and
WHEREAS, General Synod Eighteen (June, 1985) adopted the "Mission Statement on Health and Welfare" which states that: It is clear that the whole church is involved in this mission (in health and welfare). Whether represented in local churches, associations, conferences, or national level bodies the whole church is itself the creation of God's compassionate mercy in Christ, and as such, the instrument of God's intention for all humankind. (II Corinthians 5:13-21); and
WHEREAS, good health is a part of God's intention for all people, health involves the whole person—body, mind, and spirit and healing and health care are valid ways of proclaiming the Gospel and ministering in the name of Jesus Christ; and
WHEREAS, the Gospel prolcaims that health is a relationship to God set forth in Baptism and Holy Communion in which God makes wholeness as the Divine Gift.
The wholeness ascribed by God as a gift recognizes that illness and disability exist, but the presence of these does not define the individual in the sight of God, or limit the ability of such individuals to be in a whole relationsihp with God; and
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ recognizes that God calls certain of its members to various forms of ministry in and on behalf of the church for which ecclesiastical authorization is recognized by commissioning, licensing, and ordination; health ministers and parish nurses may feel called to one of these authorized ministries; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod encourages local congregations to develop/include in their mission a commitment to health and wholeness, engage health and wholeness issues through an ongoing health cabinet/health ministry team, and consider the implementation of a health ministry/parish nurse program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod calls upon the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and Office of Church Life and Leadership, in conjunction with conferences, United Church of Christ seminaries, the Council on Health and Human Services Ministries and local congregations, to begin and/or continue to develop resources that support the development and enrichment of health ministry programs in local churches; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod calls upon conferences and associations to:
1. Establish or designate a body to address health and human service issues confronting members and their communities; and
2. Recognize health ministry and parish nursing as a specialized ministry; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Twenty-first General Synod calls upon the Office of Church Life and Leadership to recognize and consider including health ministry/parish nursing in the listing of specific church-related ministries qualifying for commissioned ministry, and to consider developing guidelines and educational standards to be included in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry.
Subject to the availability of funds.
The Church has always understood itself to be an extension of Jesus Christ's ministry in the world. The diakonia of the early church — the ministry of healing, service, care, compassion and hospitality— served the needy neighbor in Christ. For more than thirty-five years the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has advocated for health care as a right and a priority for all people.
Traci Blackmon among clergy arrested in D.C. denouncing 'sinful and immoral' health care reform
Read more via UC News and watch video clip of Rev. Blackmon's remarks outside Senator Mitch McConnell's office, prior to her arrest.
UCC Perspectives on Efforts to Repeal and Replace the ACA
Ten priorities for a faithful health care system
As people of faith, we believe that any change, repeal, or repair of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) must include comprehensive health care legislation in a single bill that
meets these ten priorities for a faithful health care system. These priorities arise from a shared commitment to a faith-inspired moral vision of a health care system that offers health, wholeness, and human dignity for all.
The scriptures of the Abrahamic traditions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, as well as the sacred teachings of other faiths, understand that addressing the general welfare of the nation includes giving particular attention to people experiencing poverty or sickness. For their sake and for the common good, we must continue to make progress toward a U.S. health care system that is inclusive, equitable, affordable, accountable, and accessible for all.
- Preserve the coverage gains made by the ACA and further decrease the number of Americans without health insurance.
- Preserve the funding for Medicaid expansion and expand the program in all states.
- Ensure that reasonable revenue is in the federal budget to pay for health care for all.
- Uphold the purpose of Medicaid by refraining from structural changes to how the program is funded. Changing the funding structure to a block grant or per capita cap would impose rigid limits on the amount of federal money available to states for Medicaid, endangering the health and well-being of children, older adults, people with disabilities, and their families.
- Ensure that insurance premiums and cost sharing are truly affordable to all. Policies to improve affordability must prioritize those with the greatest need, not those with the means to put money in a health savings account or wait for tax deductions.
- Maintain health services and benefits currently provided by the ACA including access to essential medicines, mental health services, preventive services, pre-natal services, and other key services necessary to maintain health.
- Maintain guaranteed issue for those with pre-existing conditions. Do not quarantine the millions of Americans with pre-
existing conditions in unaffordable high risk insurance pools.
- Prevent insurance companies from discriminating against women, the elderly, and people in poverty.
- Create effective mechanisms of accountability for insurance companies and not allow them to have annual or lifetime caps on expenditures.
- Continue to allow children under the age of 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance.
Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans now have health care insurance that will assist them in gaining access to health services - a great first step. Unfortunately, many of those who have insurance face access challenges in finding, locating, and getting to a health provider to acquire appropriate care from the health care system in a timely manner.
Why are people struggling to attain quality care? Learn more about health Equity.
The UCC Collegium of Officers invites and encourages all conferences, associations and congregations to participate and engage in dialogue and discussion using the Just Eating Curriculum.
This wonderful curriculum calls us to integrate the commitments and practices of our faith into the way we eat. We think it will be a great enhancement to your work around food justice and sustainability issues. Learn more.
UCC Faith Community Nurse Network
The UCC Faith Community Nurse Network, formerly the Parish Nurse Network, aims to promote health ministry and parish nursing in congregations and communities, as the visible presence and voice of parish nurses in the United Church of Christ. Learn more and join the network.
The nice guy at the sandwich shop, where I've been eating lunch almost daily for three years now, died last Thursday. He was only 34.
I can hardly stop thinking about him.
In 2000, shortly after I had moved to Cleveland, I fell in love with Quizno's "Sierra Smoked Turkey" sandwich. It's tasty, it's low-fat, and best of all, I could run across the street and be back at my desk in a matter of minutes.
Charles, who owned the Euclid Avenue franchise, appreciated my loyalty. So much so that he and his employees memorized my predictable order. Quite often, he rewarded my patronage with a free soft drink or complimentary bag of chips. A few times, mostly on Fridays, my lunch would be free.
About six weeks ago, on a Monday, the store was unexpectedly closed at lunchtime. I tugged at the locked doors. Odd, I thought, but more so—irritating. Now where would I eat?
The next day, I asked Charles what had happened. "I haven't been feeling well," he said, as he put a bit of lettuce on my sandwich. "The doc tells me that I have an enlarged liver. I'm having an MRI this afternoon."
I knew enough to be worried about him, but what could I say with a line of hungry people forming behind me? "I'll be thinking about you, Charles," I said casually. "I'd appreciate that, Ben," he said.
It's the last time we spoke. And his restaurant has been closed ever since.
This afternoon, feeling pangs of hunger for a "regular Sierra, no onions," I walked several blocks down the street to another Quizno's location. A kind, familiar face greeted me from behind the counter. I remembered the young woman; she had previously worked at Charles' store. And she, too, remembered me.
"Did you hear that Chuck had passed?" she said. "He had liver cancer."
Her words confirmed my eerie suspicions. "That's really, really sad news," I said. We talked briefly and awkwardly, and then I took my sandwich and ate alone on a city park bench.
It's strange about relationships. In the midst of all the predictably special ones, there are hundreds whose significance we rarely honor. They are the faces we memorize, but the lives we do not know. At best, in time, we care enough to catch a first name.
Still, friendships can be constant, even if not deep. Just consider your favorite server at the diner, or the bartender at the corner pub, or the bank teller in the second window from the left, or the woman at the dry cleaners. Sometimes it's the friend of a friend, a relationship where circumstance keeps everything at surface-level. Too often, unfortunately, it's a good percentage of the folks we know—and really like—in our communities of worship.
In our UCC liturgy, there is a prayer of thanksgiving for those who have died by which we ask God to "keep us all in communion with your faithful people in every time and place." That's my prayer this day, as awkward as it sounds. I pray with gratitude for a friendly soul, if not an outright friend, on whose daily bread I came to rely.
God bless Charles, and God bless all the special people whose last names we will never know.