The Faith in Health and Healing Conference took place on 24/25 April 2013 in Birmingham UK. It brought together medical professionals, health care chaplains, clergy and laity in congregational health projects, theologians and other academics, Christian healing agencies, and senior church leaders. With over 60 presentations and around 200 participants, the conference was a landmark event. As well as a majority from the UK, people also came from the United States, Canada, South Africa, Israel, Barbados, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Zimbabwe and Australia.
Paul Holley initiated and led the planning for the conference. He is coordinator of the Anglican Health Network, based in Geneva Switzerland. He has established this blog to take forward the learning from the conference.
‘If you were at the conference, you can add your recollection of the discussions. If you weren’t, feel free to comment. Together we can take forward our thinking and spark some innovation’.
The conference ended with group discussions about next steps. The following is a summary of the key points made:
Recognition and Support
- We would like church leaders to affirm the significance of the church’s ministry of health and healing, offering greater theological and epidemiological understanding in churches. Churches might like to focus on health issues at services close to St. Luke’s Day.
- We would welcome a stronger connection between the work of health chaplains and congregational health ministries. In dioceses or circuits, champions could be appointed to take a lead in implementing these aspirations.
- Training and ongoing support is required to help both clergy and lay people develop health and healing ministries.
- Church members in the health and social care sectors should receive support and recognition for their professional work.
- In order to renew the significance of health and healing ministries, we support efforts to reinstate the Health Desk at the World Council of Churches. We encourage member churches to advocate accordingly.
Participation and Partnership
- We shall work with a range of partners to organise local health initiatives; pooling the gifts and resources of volunteers and drawing upon medical and other professionals to help plan and guide.
- We recognise increasing opportunity for partnership with the health sector. The health and healing ministries of churches can be valued commissioned services within the NHS. We shall work together to strengthen the capacity and recognition of these services amongst Clinical Commissioning Groups.
- We encourage churches to propose representatives for the governance structures of hospitals and other health organisations.
- Christian health and healing organisations will seek to work more closely to support the church’s involvement in these ministries. Together we shall pool our learning to encourage and guide the wider church.
- Networking, both national and international, should grow from this conference to support next steps. This will focus on sharing good practice and in developing expertise in project development and funding.