photo of a hand of an African person holding a bottle of medicine

Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata welcomed the commission members “as part of a group chosen by our member churches to provide deep insights and a farsighted vision to guide the healing ministry of the ecumenical movement.”

Mtata said: "We look forward to your individual and collective contributions directed by the Holy Spirit!”

Commission moderator Rev. Dr Stavros Kofinas facilitated the online meeting as members of the commission got to know one another; discussed work streams and priorities; and planned future work. 

Kofinas expressed gratitude for the opportunity for the new Health and Healing Commission to offer healing in a wounded world.
“I have to admit that this was an unexpected blessing and an honor, an honor mostly for the Ecumenical Patriarchate which I represent.” 

He noted that we live in a world full of paradoxes and fear that stem from many sources. 

“What we must recognize is that, in our post-pandemic world, many have lost their trust in the establishments that once provided a sense of security and ethos in which people could live, and unfortunately many lost their faith in the church,” he said. “If we do not realize this grim reality, we will not be able to provide for the health and healing of the pain and suffering that is entailed in this predicament.”

The commission also reflected and prayed together about upcoming work. In a reflection, commission member Rev. Miriam J. Burnett, from the African Episcopal Methodist Church, spoke of the group’s three pillars of work. The first, she said, is church engagement.

“This pillar will directly address member churches, accompanying them to deal with key issues in a practical and effective manner at the denominational and congregational level, to become healing communities,” Burnett said. 

The second pillar—advocacy—“will follow a strategic set of activities designed to influence decision-makers, laws and regulations, structures and practices to address the root causes of injustice leading to ill-health,” she said. “As people of faith, churches and individuals have a prophetic role mandated to speak out, and act and not merely to stand by, as silent witnesses, in light of injustices that are being perpetrated.”
The third pillar of the commission’s work is related to health service delivery. “Churches continue to be significant contributors to health services in the most vulnerable and needy regions of the world,” noted Burnett. 

Underscoring these pillars is the foundation of unity, she emphasized. 

“We come under the banner of unity realizing that health care needs and access are inseparable from the needs of the people that we are called to serve,” she said. "These include emotional needs, housing, and other social and physical determinants of health.”

The commission recognized the importance of local, regional, national, and international work in meeting its goals. 

“We affirm our commitment to unity through our collective and individual work through the WCC Commission of the Churches on Health and Healing,” said Burnett. “We come finding comfort in love and fellowship.” 

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