Amazing Pace takes steps to expand

10/16/2007

Special to the Advocate

The Amazing Pace wellness program apparently made a big impression on United Methodists from across the denomination.

Representatives of the program and the Mississippi Conference took part in the third annual National Congregational Health Ministries Conference in Wichita, Kan., held Sept. 23-26.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and the Rev. Dr. Embra Jackson made presentations to the group of more than 165 people. Also, the Amazing Pace had an exhibit at the event, which was co-sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries Health and Welfare Task Force and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.

Jackson presented a devotional, while Ward talked to the group about the Mississippi Conference’s journey toward health and wellness.

“When Bishop Ward spoke, she drew all of us in with her calming presence yet at the same time exhorted us to action with her thoughts on ‘life rules’ and ‘convergences,’” Jackson said.

“It was electrifying,” said Neville Vanderburg of Olive Branch, who is a member of the Senatobia District A2/A29 team.

The event didn’t just focus on physical health, but also spiritual health.

“It is clear to me,” Vanderburg said, “that we need a broader, more Wesleyan definition of church health.”

Others attending from Mississippi included the Rev. Judy Sibley of the Brookhaven District staff; the Rev. Joe Ranager, a chaplain at Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, and Lee Burdine and Allison Earls of HealthBux, which operates Amazing Pace.

“The Amazing Pace program generated a large amount of interest, and many conference leaders from around the country went away with the conviction to go and improve upon their wellness programs,” said  Burdine, an active member of Columbus First UMC.

Sibley said she learned that how our nation looks at healthcare might need to change. “I think that one of the reasons we are head over heels into the high cost of healthcare is because we have historically looked for the leading causes of death rather than the leading causes of life,” said Sibley.

“The more I think about healthcare providers’ and insurers’ long-time resistance to using incentives for healthy living as a strategy for reducing health costs  the clearer it becomes that changing our language around good/bad health can change our approach to disease management and therefore medical costs,” she said.

The 2008 conference is scheduled for Sept. 21-24 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina.

 “I think that one of the reasons we are head over heels into the high cost of health care is because we have historically looked for the leading causes of death rather than the leading causes of life,” said Sibley.

“When I first heard Dr. Gary Gunderson (of Methodist Healthcare) talking about the leading causes of life my thought was this is nothing more an academic semantics — a publish or perish twist,” she said. “The more I think about health care providers' and insurers' long-time resistance to using incentives for healthy living as a strategy for reducing health costs  the clearer it becomes that changing our language around good-bad health can change our approach to disease management and therefore medical costs.”

The 2008 conference is scheduled for Sept. 21-24 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina.