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New role for our churches in health
Pastor's corner
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Today we are in a time of increasing uncertainty. Nowhere is that more evident than in Healthcare. Healthcare costs continue to rise almost as fast as gasoline prices and many people cannot afford healthcare insurance. Hospitalization costs can drive a family into bankruptcy. I believe our churches can accept a new role to help members gain access to healthcare.
 The mission of the twelve disciples was clearly to “… proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal. (Luke 9:2)”  Many churches are engaged in a healing ministry and have healing services for those who suffer in mind, body, and spirit. The question still remains how our churches might participate more fully in a ministry of healing and wellness especially in Liberty County.
Dr. Russ Toll made a presentation concerning a Three Ring Health Consortium, which would be committed to creating a regional healthcare system to provide high quality, accessible health care in Long, McIntosh, and Liberty Counties where as many as 80,000 are potentially affected by no access to healthcare. Over 25% of those in these counties are uninsured young adults ages 18-24. The State of Georgia has committed to fund three regional healthcare systems over the next year with about $7 million from a tobacco settlement.  One objective of the grant requires increased involvement with the community, which our churches would give.
Our churches could become a part of a broad community network to help those who need healthcare and help direct them into a healthcare system which would meet their needs. Local congregations could have volunteers trained to do basic health screening and provide early identification of health problems. They could then direct them to regional healthcare. This would reduce costs and help improve service. An ancillary benefit would be to raise the health awareness of entire congregations so everyone could become aware of the benefits of changing habits that harm health.
    This new role for churches would not only aid with healing of persons in our community but would help show that we love our brothers and sisters as ourselves. The role of screening, directing to healthcare, and raising wellness awareness needs to be considered as an important new role for our churches.

Carter is rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

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