When the topic of conversation centers on individual’s health, what does that mean? A simple response is attention given to the personal well-being of your mind, body and spirit. Rephrased another way might be to care deliberately for your overall welfare. But are individuals the only ‘group’ that we might consider when it comes to the subject of ‘health’? Actually within the church world, the term ‘healthy (or unhealthy)’ congregation is not uncommon as a point of reference for how strong (or weak) the organization of the individual parish is working. Thanks be to God, The Church of the Redeemer is considered a very healthy congregation when using that criteria.

But, is there a different lens through which to consider the ‘health’ of our congregation?  I believe there is. Let me offer 3 perspectives that reflect new and evolving initiatives for the ‘health’ of this parish:

  • About 18 months ago, we trained a small group of lay members to offer the laying on of hands for healing. This group called St. Luke Ministers faithfully engaged in this liturgical practice the first Sundays of the month. The congregation has responded with enthusiasm and gratitude for this ministry from their fellow parishioners. It had been our long term hope to expand the number of Sundays for this offering; consequently we have trained an additional group. Beginning this month, the opportunity for healing will be the 1st and 3rd Sundays at both 8 and 10. Healing at Faith at Five will coincide with the Taize services. Laying on of hands as a lay ministry contributes to the ‘health’ of our congregation.
  • Last winter Redeemer began conversations centered on issues of mental health. The tag line for the topic evolved into: “Mental Health at Redeemer: Let’s Talk About It; Let’s Learn About It.” The interest from the parish has exceeded our expectations. As a result we have sponsored speakers and offered the Mental Health First Aid Workshop to almost 90 individuals, some of whom came from our community engagement partners. There are 2 new workshops planned: Tuesday/Wednesday Oct 2/3 from 11-3 and another Friday Oct 12, 2-6pm/Saturday Oct 13, 10-2. There is a minimum of 6 individuals and a maximum of 12. Please email me should you wish to enroll: cstewart@redeemerbaltimore.org Mental Health awareness is very important to the ‘health’ of our parish. 
  • Several years ago, a lay initiated support group for those experiencing loss (relationships, death, job loss, etc) was started. It is now offered 3 times a year and is a 6 week experience. Led by Ruthie Cromwell and Nancy Bowen, the fall session begins Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 10-11:30. Please contact me to enroll. Grieving well is a part of good health. 
  • We are delighted to announce the formation of a Pastoral Care Team. This group will supplement the efforts of the clergy when it comes to providing pastoral care to the congregation. They will increase our potential to support the parish family. While not replacing the role of clergy, they will actually enhance our priority of caring for one another. Betsy Willett will coordinate the efforts of the group which is comprised of Laila Roth, Hilary Klein, Ruth Cromwell, Ann Gavin, Ann Warfield and Nancy Bowen. All seven of these individuals graduated from the Center for Spiritual Support Training at GBMC; a 30 week educational program. We are fortunate that they have accepted our invitation to use their gifts and experiences here at Redeemer. Again, this is an example of how we are elevating the topic of health within our congregation.

A ‘healthy’ congregation is not limited to the physical or spiritual or emotional components of her members but those are ingredients that contribute to the church being wholly holistically capable of living into our mission.