The World Council of Churches (WCC) has released a new publication,“Health-Promoting Churches: Reflections on Health and Healing for Churches on Commemorative World Health Days,” that is designed to accompany churches and strengthen their health-related ministries.
The book was announced on 12 October during a WCC-convened consultation with ecumenical global health providers and networks. Since May 2020, the WCC has been hosting monthly meetings of ecumenical partners working in the area of health to share knowledge, experiences, and inspiration, and to explore the possibilities of joint actions related to COVID-19.
During the online gathering, Sarah Hess, part of the World Health Organization’s Information Networks for Epidemics, said faith communities have a critical role in COVID-19 response. “Health crises are disruptive, as illness, uncertainty, fear, and socio-economic impacts all contribute toward a breakdown in social cohesion, trust and solidarity,” she said. “Faith leaders are often a trusted source of accurate information.”
Dr Mwai Makoka, programme executive for Health and Healing, shared what churches can do. “First,” he advised, “remember you can’t do everything.”
But, he added, churches can’t sit back and do nothing. “Start where you are, and with what you have,” suggested Makoka.
The consultation was held the same week that World Mental Health Day was observed. Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement, spoke about how crucial it is for faith communities to address mental health.
“Churches must end stigma on mental health and create inclusive spaces that offer mental health care alongside pastoral counseling in our congregations,” Bohol urged. “We need to be reminded of Christ’s calling for us to be a place of healing and acceptance.”
Link to the book in English, French and Spanish: Health-Promoting Churches: Reflections on Health and Healing for Churches on Commemorative World Health Days