By Gwen Sisson, Starkville District Communicator
Photo right: Team HOPE members released their first group photo with Starkville District superintendent Rev. Dr. Embra Jackson (far back center with tie).
One-third of Jesus' earthly ministry dealt with health and wellness, the holistic healing of mind, body, spirit, relationships, etc.
With a biblical mandate to follow Christ, healthcare has always been a major emphasis in missions worldwide. And while missionaries around the world deal with health crisis, few churches are working to deal with the health crisis in the United States.
The United Methodist Church is working to change that on a state and local level. Starkville District superintendent, Rev. Dr. Embra Jackson said health and wellness has always played an important role, but is now developing into a major emphasis with the creation of the new TEAM HOPE, a healthcare advocacy team designed to promote health and wellness within the eight counties comprising the Starkville District.
Retired nurse, Carolyn Jackson, and a team of trained health coordinators are developing this ministry following the Transforming Communities Though Health Care Ministry Training held in October by the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.
The first meeting of TEAM HOPE was held November 7 at First United Methodist Church of Columbus.
Lee Burdine, his company, Lifebux and many local churches are assisting in the creation of health kiosks, health screenings, health fairs, etc.
Burdine said the health team model allows for churches and community groups to work together and share resources on health disparities in the local communities that churches serve.
"This team model also allows for health programming that our smallest congregation to our largest congregation can engage their membership in a needed serving area," Burdine said.
Sandra Brown of First United Methodist Church of Columbus and one of the organizers for TEAM HOPE said the November 7 meeting was "dynamically empowering" and "that the Lord continues to bring and bind together many people, from our district churches, our communities and our conference, all offering many diverse and unique gifts and graces in working passionately, together in this great Cluster Health Care Advocacy ministry and mission, seeking to help those in need, in being the Church together."
Initial plans for TEAM HOPE include healthcare advocacy training through the Mississippi Conference, hosting a health fair for churches and communities within the district, working within cities against the injustice of crime and its accompanying issues and working with the elderly and their families to facilitate community awareness as to what resources are available in later life transition. "The Spirit continues to bring new life to our team and vision daily," Brown said.
"It is our prayer that as God continues to lead those interested; blessings will continue to abound for our churches, communities and the larger Church, as we join together as one body for the kingdom of God and His healing purposes...It has been amazing to watch the fire of the Spirit move through The POWER of We."
For more information about TEAM HOPE, please contact Brown at BSGBrown@gmail.com.