Wellness Ministries: A Foundation for Addressing Health Disparity

Deborah Ringen

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted racism and the impact of health disparity as people of color have experienced disproportionate levels of disease and death. We are called to address this disparity and work toward removing the barriers to health and wellness created by systemic racism. 


Wellness Ministry previously referred to as Health Ministry provides a congregation with a structure to guide programs and activities related to faith and health for people of every “race, ethnicity, creed, class, age, educational background, economic circumstance, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status; physical and mental ability to journey together in a mutually supportive manner towards wholistic spiritual, physical, and mental health.” (UCC Wellness Ministries). 


This workshop is a response to the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM), and the UCC’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Ministries (COREM), the current proposal, “A Resolution to Declare and Respond to Racism as a Public Health Crisis” which encourages us to recommit ourselves to the call of the beloved community, where barriers to wellbeing are broken down and systems are reimagined to make it so.” The 1997 Resolution: “Reclaiming the Church’s Ministry of Health and Healing” is brought to life through Wellness Ministries in which health is viewed as “harmony with self, others, the environment, and God.” Wellness Ministry teams recognize the value of accurate medical information, and the power of our faith, in healthy living. These resolutions encourage local churches to address health and wholeness issues as they affect the communities around the congregation by forming health and wellness teams and engaging a parish nurse/faith community nurse. 


With the context of the two resolutions described above this workshop will use the model of Wellness Ministry, previously referred to as Health Ministry, to lead participants through a step-by-step guide to begin a wellness ministry in their setting. The Wellness Ministry model will be applied to addressing the current issue of racism as a public health crisis and how a congregation can work toward reducing the barriers to well-being as the resolution suggests. 

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