Health professionals and outreach leaders from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America say a new focus on comprehensive health ministry will rebrand the church’s traditional medical missionary work, bringing healing and wholeness to church and community members.
“God called us all to work together and we will only truly touch the lives of people as Jesus did once we work collaboratively for Him with one mission and one vision,” said Katia Reinert, director of Health Ministries for the church’s North American Division.
The call for blended ministry came last month at the North American Division Health Ministries Summit in Orlando, Florida, United States.
Summit organizers, in partnership with the church’s Loma Linda University, held a Health Professionals Conference at the event to define the role of health professionals in comprehensive health ministry, both in their clinical practices and their local churches.
“We need more involvement of our health professionals and our health institutions in health ministry,” Reinert said.
This year’s summit also outlined sample ministry roles for health professionals, pastors, educators, young people and Adventist Community Service volunteers. Comprehensive health ministry follows Christ’s method of meeting physical needs before spiritual ones.
“Collaboration is key,” Reinert said. “Having pastors, children’s ministries leaders, women’s ministries leaders, community services leaders and many others represented and involved in getting trained to meet people’s needs and demonstrate God’s love and compassion is essential.”
In recent months, top Adventist Church officials have called for a renewed emphasis on the comprehensive side of health ministry—the blending of physical and spiritual components that depends on close collaboration between health and ministerial leaders.
The new focus is meant to reboot the Adventist Church’s traditional approach to health outreach. The early church’s medical missionaries brought physical and spiritual healing to communities worldwide. A mission boat called “The Morning Star” launched medical missionary work along the Mississippi River. Later, another boat called the “Luzeiro” brought health outreach and a message of hope to communities along the banks of the Amazon River in South America.
Back at the health summit, Reinert and other Health Ministries leaders hope the renewed focus on comprehensive health ministry will continue that legacy. They envision every Adventist church serving as a center of hope and healing in the community.
“As churches begin building connections and partnerships in the community, they can place the church in a better space to minister and truly show that they want their communities to be whole,” Reinert said.