Planning your congregation’s Health Care Justice Sabbath
A Health Care Justice Sabbath is a weekend in which your congregation focuses on health care issues to the maximum extent possible:
- worship service,
- Bible study,
- educational events for adults, youth and children,
- other weekend events such as
- health fair,
- blood drive,
- candidates forum
- prayer vigil
- letterwriting to elected officials.
From the past experience of congregations wihich have sponsored health care justice Sabbath weekends, we have collected the following ideas which we hope will stimulate your creativity in developing a full and exciting program for your faith community that fits its unique circumstances.
- Form a planning committee in your congregation. Our experience is that the most effective congregational events often occur when they are led by a respected lay person who can enlist other members and supported by the clergy. Participants will ideally include any health care professionals and others with a special interest in health care issues. Coordinate with your clergy and those in your congregation’s governing council and committees concerned with worship and other activities that will be impacted by such an event, and make sure they support this activity.
- The first meeting of your committee should be to lay out the overall concept, establish your service, education, and advocacy objectives, and generate ideas for events which the Sabbath may contain. At this or the next meeting, the ideas which have been generated should be reviewed to determine which you will seek to implement. Use the list below as a guide. Have as many subsequent meetings as you need to coordinate the arrangement making and assure that all arrangements are in place.
- In your planning make sure that mental health and mental illness are included as health care justice issues!
- Consider beginning steps for your congregation to become a Caring Community as described on these sites:
- Honor the ill and caregivers.
- Explore using prayers and scriptures and sermons and other worship resources written for Health Care Justice Sabbath on the Faithful Reform in Health Care Worship Page
- Devote sermon to issues affecting Health Care Justice
- Identify ways to focus on faith teachings about healing and justice in the worship service.
- Include persons with physical and mental illness in your prayers.
- Identify ways to focus on faith teachings about healing and justice in the congregation’s educational program.
- Use special lessons for children, youth and adults
- Arrange an event with special speakers
- Conduct a Health Fair in collaboration with the local Health Department to include blood pressure screening, depression screening, opportunities to enroll children in the S-CHIP (State Child Health Improvement Program) for lower income families, opportunities for seniors to learn various Medicare alternatives.
- The Health Fair can also include information tables from local advocacy and support groups like NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Their site has a wealth of information not only on support groups but on the latest legislative issues affecting mental illness.
- Sponsor a candidates forum. Faith community congregations and other non-profit organizations can sponsor candidate’s forums without jeopardizing their non-profit status if the forum is open to all candidates and the faith community makes no endorsements and shows no favoritism. Structure the forum around questions related to health care which all candidates are given a chance to answer.
- Collaborate with Health Departments and other Health Agencies
- Work in volunteer projects that offer healing and improve health care access
- Coordinate with other faith communities:
- Different faith communities can have separate worship observances but jointly sponsor other activities like health fairs and blood drives. The same holds true for faith communities cooperating with secular organizations.
- Encourage neighboring faith communities to observe Health Care Sabbaths.
- Review Statements of Faith of other faith communities.
- Discuss Health Care Justice Sabbath idea with other church leaders who have arranged them or are planning to, join John 10:10!.
- Support the current congressional legislative efforts to protect Medicare and Medicaid
- Create a resolution in support of health care for those in your congregation who may be marginalized. Seek congregational governing council endorsement of the resolution, by conducting educational programs about it, and by communicating with your legislators.
- Support statewide efforts to support health care for all. Identify gaps in health reform and work to fill the gaps.
- Organize or participate in community events calling attention to Health Care Justice.
- Have an advocacy table where persons receive suggestions and assistance in writing letters to their legislators.
- Build on other special days and events such as:
- May — May is Mental Health Month
- Once you have selected a date, google “awareness month” and you are likely to find several specific health concerns being emphasized in the month of your Health Care Justice Sabbath! These may not have been relevant in selecting your date, but including their emphasis will add interest to your event.
Review what Others have said!
Cynthia Abrams, 9/29/2011
Jackson Day, 9/6/2011
Cynthia Abrams, Linda Walling, 6/22/2010
Meredith Heagny, 8/24/2009
Meredith Hoxie, 7/13, 2009
Bishop Deborah Kiesey, 5/6/2009