Spiritual Care for Spiritual Distress

by Cynthia Wacker

A simple tool to aid in examining our personal beliefs about the experience of violence. In thinking through these questions, how can we prepare to be healing agents for those who need compassionate, faithful support? This term spiritual distress is used professionally within medical circles and recognizes the complete disruption of life that pervades a […]

Invisible Countries

Traveling with others through their stories of trauma

by Susan Palwick

In the medical world, the word trauma refers to very specific classes of life-threatening injury. The hospital where I volunteer isn’t a trauma center, which means that—except for a few rare cases where trauma patients arrive under their own power, and even rarer mass casualty incidents—we don’t see people who’ve been shot, stabbed, severely burned, […]

Intergenerational Living

You're Never Too Old (or Young) to be a Good Neighbor

by Mary Boland

Housing is often a particular issue for two groups of people: students and older adults. While college costs only seem to be growing, the need for affordable student housing has never been greater. And for older adults, moving to a nursing home or assisted living apartment often leaves them anxious, lonely, and frustrated. Humanitas Retirement […]

Growing Hope

The Healing Potential of Trauma-Informed Faith Communities

by Andrea Blanch

In 2012, a statewide survey in Tennessee measured the prevalence of ten “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs)—things like child abuse and neglect, living with domestic violence, or having a family member incarcerated. The survey showed that over half of Tennessee citizens experienced at least one ACE before the age of 18, and more than 20 percent […]

Health Care, the Whole Person, and Community Engagement

A Case Study of the Church Health Center of Memphis, TN

by Antony Sheehan, Maureen Bisognano and Robert Waller

This article is excerpted from Health Care, the Whole Person, and Community Engagement: Church Health Center of Memphis, Tennessee by Sheehan, A., Bisognano, M., Waller, R. Published by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 2014. The full article is available at www.ihi.org. The Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is committed to encouraging […]

$5 Home Run

The highs and lows of sports—and community

by Scott Morris

When I was 11 years old my Little League team in Atlanta, Georgia, was named Western Electric. We sported uniforms in yellow and gray. It was my first year of playing in the “A” league. I played center field, and I knew that I was a pretty good player, but I did not have much […]

The Cards

By simple words, Marty was reconnected to life

by Larry Kinard

When Marty was in ICU after a ruptured aneurysm, people sent cards to our son’s address in Dallas or our home in Waco. Our friend Sue would truck them to us at the hospital when she visited. The cards were from all over: friends from church, Marty’s high school and college friends, strangers from other […]

A Garden Hospital

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun, Singapore

by Mary Boland

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun, Singapore, is doing things differently. Described as a “hospital in a garden and a garden in a hospital,” its mission resonates with a holistic approach to care by providing patients, visitors, and the whole community a place to rest and rejuvenate in body and mind. For every one square […]

Be Not Afraid

Creating a system of care built on love, not fear

by Antony Sheehan

I coughed for three weeks straight. I remember enough from my nursing training to know that was not a good sign. Finally, my officemate at the Church Health Center, Dr. Scott Morris, had enough of my hacking. Who can blame him? He practically picked me up by my shirt collar and marched me over to […]

10 Tips for a Healthy Stay-Cation

Vacation planning can sometimes be as stressful as a day job. So why not take that week off, sit down in your garden, your patio swing, your favorite living room chair, and just breathe? While this might seem boring, there’s actually plenty you can do to vacation in a healthy way! Here are some ways […]

Build Your Own Buddy Ball

by Mary Boland

Ready to start a program at your church? We asked Margaret Davis, coordinator at Buddy Ball Special Needs Athletic League in Clarksville, Tennessee, how to start a special needs sports program: Consider who is going to be involved in the program – children, teens, adults? Tailor the program to their needs and interests. Be flexible. […]

Between Active and Contemplative

The Co-mingling of Sports, Recreation and Christian Theology

by Anthony Maranise

Located inside the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City are breathtaking feats of architecture and design. One likely to inspire conversation is the cathedral’s great Sports Bay window installed in 1924 after the Paris Olympics. From nearly floor to ceiling, stained glass depicts sporting and recreational activities from the more […]

Sing for Health’s Sake

How symbols, singing and the music of faith provide hope and healing

by John L. Bell

The connection between music and healing is well rehearsed. When King Saul felt himself in the grip of an evil spirit, he employed the boy David to play his lyre as a proven means of relief (1 Samuel 16:23). Thousands of music therapists in the present day can offer stunning anecdotes of how music can […]

Holy, Healing and Heart Healthy

Red Dress Sunday at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland

by Mary Boland

Heart disease often flies under the radar of self-diagnosis. A slew of other health problems easily could cause shortness of breath, back pain, nausea and jaw pain. Maybe you took those stairs a little too quickly. Maybe you pulled a muscle at the gym. Maybe stress at work has you clenching your jaw. Or maybe […]

Healthy Holiday Hospitality

by Church Health Reader Editors

Whether you’re hosting a huge family dinner or sleeping on a couch for the night, the holidays often bring opportunities to offer and receive hospitality. Here are some tips to make guests feel welcome and to be a generous houseguest yourself. If you’re hosting … Seek a centering-something to anchor the event. Make a centerpiece […]

Death is Not the Enemy

Why End-of-Life Issues Should Matter to Churches

by Martha R. Jacobs

Near the end of his life, friend and preacher William Sloane Coffin wrote in his book Credo, “Death cannot be the enemy if it’s death that brings us to life. For just as without leave-taking there can be no arrival; without growing old there can be no growing up; without tears, no laughter; so without […]

All around the Church

32 Tips for Improving Your Congregation's Health in Every Corner of the Building

by Stacy Smith and Rachel Davis

From church kitchens to those extra classrooms, there are many ways to emphasize health throughout your church facility. This guide offers tips to making your church building a healthy place for all. THE KITCHEN Even the smallest kitchens can be a teaching kitchen. Have someone who loves to cook teach classes on cooking to any who want to learn. Use […]

A Banquet of Our Own

by Kevin Coyle

Each week I attend a Toastmasters public speaking club, but this is no ordinary group. Two recovery centers host it jointly: On Our Own of Frederick and the Community Organized Recovery Efforts. Outside the walls of the room the persons present in the meetings carry labels: alcoholic, schizophrenic, drug addict. Yet, in this gathering, labels […]

Ministry for the Bees (and us)

by Ashley Goff

By June of 2011, forty-thousand honeybees called Church of the Pilgrims’ (PCUSA) urban garden home, pollinating our urban garden and the 1,700 acres of our neighboring forest oasis Rock Creek Park. It was in February of 2011 that one of our members, Erin Littlestar, a sustainable agriculture advocate, suggested honeybee hives at Pilgrims to enhance […]


by Krystal Grant-Crutchfield

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to […]


A Church that is Poor, and for the Poor

Q&A with Fr. Jim Martin on Pope Francis

by Stacy Smith

Pope Francis is a first in many ways—the first pope from the Southern hemisphere, the first from the Americas, and the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years. He is the first Jesuit pope and also the first to remember in his chosen papal name St. Francis of Assisi, a saint known for his […]

Love Heals

A tour of Thistle Farms, where women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction now create healing balms

by Mary Button

The Bible is full of stories about oils, perfumes, incense and anointing. Almost the entire thirtieth chapter of Exodus is dedicated to the Lord’s instructions on how to anoint. Samuel anoints Saul the first king of a unified Israel and later David, is anointed king of Israel by a council of elders. The history of […]

Rock for Love

Memphis Musicians Give Back to the Church Health Center

by John Klyce Minervini

When rapper Al Kapone walks out on a stage, you know the main event has arrived. In his signature white doo rag and backwards bill cap, Kapone dazzles audiences with underground hits like “Whoop That Trick” and “Get Crunk, Get Buck.” On September 6th, Kapone—born Alphonso Bailey in North Memphis—took the stage at Rock for […]

Teaching the Whole Family

With its innovative curriculum and mandatory parent participation, Perea Preschool is beating the odds.

by John Klyce Minervini

When you think about preschool, what comes to mind? Pink pencil erasers, juice boxes, safety scissors. Those little ice cream cups with the wooden spoons. One thing you may not have thought of is an iPad. But here at Perea—a charter preschool in the Klondike neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee—there are two in every classroom, plus […]

Book Review

Sacred Pauses

Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal

reviewed by Kelsey Pierce

April Yamasaki is a lead pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Her book Sacred Pauses takes the reader on a meditational journey to connect with God through prayer. The goal of the book is to spiritually reconnect the reader and to help them find personal renewal. Sacred Pauses is unique in that […]

Growing an International Garden

They have come from Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and other countries all over the world, but they are all growing in Texas. That is, they are growing mustard, cilantro, peppers and yard-long beans, while also growing connections to each other and their new home. With their refugee neighbors, St. Francis Episcopal Church is growing in relationship […]

Stronger Together

Partnerships in Health Ministry

by Stacy Smith

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” -Romans 12:4–5 We, who are many, are one body in Christ. Paul’s vision of the body of Christ in […]

Two Are Better Than One

Working Together

by Scott Morris

I am not afraid to ask for help. This is not because I can’t make a decision—I make countless important decisions every day. But as the book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil” (4:9). This verse appears in a passage that acknowledges that […]

The Way of Complacency

by Susan Palwick

Christians spend much of Lent meditating on Jesus’ Way of the Cross, the sufferings leading to his death. We imagine ourselves being condemned, carrying our crosses, falling under our burdens. But on Good Friday, we are called to do something else: to reflect on our roles, not as the tormented Christ, but as his executioners. […]

Book Review

Sex + Faith

Talking With Your Child from Birth to Adolescence

reviewed by Mary Boland

In her book, Sex + Faith: Talking with Your Child from Birth to Adolescence, Kate Ott presents an excellent guide to informing and nourishing a child’s sexual education in the contexts of faith and health. Ott’s no-nonsense view of a child’s sex education is rooted in an honest, nurturing, and open environment where children are free to explore and […]

Book Review

What Do We Tell the Children?

Talking to Kids about Death and Dying

reviewed by Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger

Parents, teachers and caring adults want to protect the children they love from the terrible reality of death. And so they try to shield their children from it, sometimes by forbidding them to attend the funeral, sometimes by withholding their own grief in the presence of the children so as not “to make them feel […]


The Practice of Prayer Shawls

Q&A with Victoria A. Cole-Galo

by Shelby Ussery

Victoria A. Cole-Galo is co-founder of Prayer Shawl Ministry and co-author of the best-selling Prayer Shawl Companion books by Taunton Press. She is a graduate of the Hartford Seminary’s Women’s Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut and resides in central Connecticut with her husband and two sons. Shelby Ussery spoke with her […]

Room In The Inn

Nashville churches provide shelter and warmth in the cold winter months

by Rachel Davis

Beginning on November 1 each year, over 175 congregations in Nashville, Tennessee open their doors every night during the winter months to offer a safe night’s sleep for people without homes. Room In The Inn is a citywide effort to address the basic needs of the homeless by providing a meal, fellowship, and a safe, […]

Book Review

A Homemade Year

The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together

Few things provide as much comfort as the rhythm of tradition. Yet, how do we ensure tradition is both meaningful and alive? In A Homemade Year, Jerusalem Jackson Greer provides a template for a wonderful answer. The backbone of A Homemade Year is the liturgical calendar. Greer successfully makes the calendar accessible for those, like […]

What is Healthy Eating?

by L. Shannon Jung

Eating often seems so prosaic, so everyday, so trivial, that we are tempted to forget that eating is a spiritual and moral act. The question of what constitutes healthy eating is one that we in the church often leave to the nutritionists as though food were only a fuel and we only calorie-burners. I want to demonstrate here […]

Having Enough

by Barbara Wheeler-Bride

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? —Matthew 6:25 After college, I worked in a small nonprofit in Jackson, Mississippi. Sometimes I would […]

Prayer Shawls Wrap a Community in Comfort

The Church of St. Denis in Hopewell Junction, NY

by Church Health Reader Editors

Twice a month, 35 members of the prayer shawl ministry at the Church of St. Denis gather to pray, knit and fellowship with one another. The St. Denis parish is located in Hopewell Junction, New York, a rural community with approximately 2,200 families. Since the group’s formation in October 2009, members have crocheted and knitted […]

Sharing in the Baking of Bread

by Darian Duckworth

I had gathered the supplies and prepared the equipment. The instructions were on the countertop at my eyes’ height, and the phone was within an arm’s reach in case of emergency. I took a deep breath. I reached for the flour. The baking of bread had officially begun. As a pastor, bread is not a […]

How to Visit Someone in the Hospital

by Scott Morris

Physicians and health care professionals often become so used to walking into and around hospitals that we forget that most people are frightened at some level with the experience of being in a hospital. Over the last few years, I have had several hospital stays due to orthopedic problems and I can assure you that […]

We Teach Our Children

by Kira Dault

Today, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and this is what I saw: tired circles under my eyes,  jiggly skin under my arms, and a little extra “padding” around my middle left over from two pregnancies. As I stood there, wincing at the loose skin under my chin, I noticed that my two-year-old […]


Why Disrupting Homelessness Matters for the Church

Q&A with Laura Stivers

by John Shorb

Laura Stivers, professor of ethics at Dominican University of California, recently investigated the issue of homelessness from a Christian perspective. The result was her new book Disrupting Homelessness: Alternative Christian Approaches. She shared her thoughts on how churches and individual Christians might approach homelessness on a systematic level based on biblical understandings of hospitality and […]


by Susan Palwick

I live in Nevada, the driest and sunniest state in the country. My husband and I moved to Reno in June, which meant that for weeks, we woke up to brilliant sunshine and cloudless skies. When we commented on this gorgeous weather to locals, they just shrugged and said, “Oh, it’s always like this.” Both […]

Angels of Healing

by Angela Dixon

For Nicole Becton, it was Tony Sea—her “angel,” that is. She met him at an African American Pastors Consortium (AAPC) function. After believing her HIV diagnosis meant an imminent death sentence, Becton re-solidified her spiritual foundation and emerged ready to live again. Also HIV-positive, Sea empathized with her, directed her to free medical treatment, and […]


A Good Funeral

Q&A with Thomas G. Long

by Stacy Smith

Dr. Thomas G. Long is a well-known preacher and professor at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. Twelve years ago, he embarked on a new study of funeral liturgies and the theological meaning of a funeral. Church Health Reader spoke with him about how his work is reshaping our understanding of how we accompany […]


Discussing Death

A Conversation with Hal and Carole Stoneking

by Sarah Stoneking

Some families discuss sports, politics or weekend plans around the dinner table. While my family does all of that, we sometimes find ourselves discussing other challenging issues. Both of my parents work professionally with issues of death and dying and they have had their own poignant experiences with death. So, this is not a rare […]

At Work in God’s Garden

Community gardening is practical and theological, personal and communal

by Kendra Hotz & Matthew Mathews

In the beginning, God created a garden. Genesis 2 describes how God made the plants of the field and streams of the earth, breathed life into the first human and placed him in the Garden. Humankind, it would seem, was created to be at home in a garden. Yet many of us live far away […]


Finding Hope and Healing in Postpartum Depression

Q&A with Jerusha Clark

by John Shorb

Jerusha Clark, author of Living Beyond Postpartum Depression, spoke on her own experience with Postpartum Depression (PPD) and how she hopes to speak to women and their families suffering from PPD. John Shorb: Could you tell me about your own experience with Postpartum Depression? Jerusha Clark: After I delivered both of my children, I experienced […]


Sobering Thoughts

Q&A with C.K. Robertson

by John Shorb

Rev. Dr. C.K. Robertson serves as Canon to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and is the author of Religion and Alcohol: Sobering Thoughts. He spoke with Church Health Reader about the complexities of alcohol in religious life and the importance of honest conversations about alcohol. John Shorb: The title of the Introduction is […]