Emory Report
September 7, 2004
Volume 57, Number 03


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September 7, 2004
Conference to explore health, faith

BY Elaine Justice

The connection between spiritual faith, bodily health and practical steps for the future will be explored by health care leaders, theologians and scholars gathering at Emory Oct. 11–13 for a public conference on “Bridging Faith and Health: The Role of the Church.”

Conference leaders, including theologians from the Candler School of Theology, public health professionals from the Rollins School of Public Health, researchers from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and physicians from the School of Medicine, will conduct sessions on the faith and health connection from a variety of perspectives. Participants will examine current research, make suggestions for ways that religion and health might be related, explore ministries that promote individual and community health, and address justice and equity issues in health care.

“Faith and health long have been companions in the Christian tradition,” said Russell Richey, dean of Candler, which is spearheading the conference. “The church’s commitment to healing is evident throughout its history.”

The conference is a response to the growing interest by faith communities in health issues, a traditional interest in the African-American church, according to Alton Pollard, director of black church studies at Candler.

“The African American church recognizes that it must address both the spiritual and physical—including the social, psychological, political, economic and emotional well-being of people in a community—or be seen as irrelevant,” Pollard said.

Conference speakers will include Joycelyn Elders, former surgeon general of the United States and now professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas Medical Center; Scott Morris, founder and executive director of the Church Health Center, Memphis, Tenn.; nationally known preacher Fred Craddock, Bandy Distinguished Professor of Preaching and New Testament Emeritus at Candler; and Gerald Durley, senior pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, among many others.

“Public health is what we as a society do to ensure the conditions of health,” said Jim Curran, dean of the Rollins school and a conference speaker. “Faith communities and their religious institutions are among the strongest influences and most reliable resources in society. Ensuring that faith and religious communities maximize the potential for the health of individuals requires greater understanding of the forces influencing health, as well as a strong appreciation for the potential roles of faith institutions and communities.”

“The role of spirituality in patient care is significant,” agreed nursing Dean Marla Salmon, also a conference speaker. “Understanding and, in a way, building upon that connection as a patient and caregiver can make a profound difference in positive healing.”

Workshops include: church contributions to the health of communities; nurses in partnership for community health; preparing parishioners to make ethical decisions; how long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS are challenging pastoral theology and practice; refugee communities and health; the church and mental health; how science illuminates opportunities for health; and preaching for health and wholeness, among others.

Cost of the conference is $130 prior to Sept. 15, $150 after that date. Daily fee options are available, as well
as continuing education credits. For more information on continuing education credits, call 404-727-0714. To download a brochure and registration form, visit http://candler.emory.edu/events.cfm.