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 University Oct. 11-13 for a public conference on "Bridging Faith and Health: The Role of the Church."
Conference leaders, including theologians from Candler School of Theology, public health professionals from Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, nursing researchers from Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and physicians from Emory University 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 have long been companions in the Christian tradition," says 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, an interest long held by the African-American church, says 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."
Conference speakers will include Joycelyn Elders, former surgeon general of the United States, now professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas Medical Center; G. 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 assure the conditions of health," says James Curran, MD, MPH, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health and a conference speaker. "Faith communities and their religious institutions are among the strongest influences and most reliable resources in society. Assuring 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," says conference speaker Marla E. Salmon, RN, ScD, FAAN, dean and professor of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. "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 Sept. 15. Daily fee options are available, as well as continuing education credits. To download a brochure and registration form, go to:http://candler.emory.edu.