Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Adventist HealthCare Builds Foundations for Healthy Communities

By Cindy Glass


As part of Adventist HealthCare’s commitment to building healthy communities, the organization’s Health Ministry department recently held its first “Health Ministry Team Building” training at the Conference Center on the campus of Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) in Takoma Park, Md. 

The course prepared congregation members and health ministry teams from all denominations to understand community health issues, principles of whole person health, and health behavior change; to identify community resources; to implement successful congregational health surveys; and to plan and implement successful health awareness and lifestyle programs within the congregation.

“We were overwhelmed by the interest and response to this much-needed training, not only from Seventh-day Adventist churches, but also from other denominations,” said Katia Reinert, Health Ministry clinical supervisor/faith community nursing coordinator. Reinert, along with Health Ministry coordinators Sue Heitmuller and MaryBeth Terrel, planned the course in response to a need and an opportunity they saw to assist churches and parish nurses in developing a strong health ministry within their congregations. Reinert added that the interest in the course was so high that potential participants had to be placed on a waiting list.

A total of 58 people from 26 churches attended the course, including Health Ministry leaders and team members. Of those churches, 14 were churches from Potomac, Chesapeake, and Allegheny East conferences, and 12 were from other denominations. Attendees included professionals from several areas of ministry including chaplains, nurses, pastors, physicians, parish nurses, nurse practitioners, and social workers, as well as lay health ministers. 

As part of the program, Ray Nelson, Health Ministries director for the Chesapeake Conference and Columbia Union, dressed up in character as the disciple John while sharing one of the Bible stories of Jesus healing. Leah Scott, Allegheny East Conference Health Ministries director, also attended and shared how “the personal touch and contact” with the registrants prior to the event was key for the success in attendance. 

“I found all the training informative and very beneficial to help promote wholeness and health in the church,” one participant wrote about the course, adding, “This was a blessing. Keep up the good work.” Another called the program an “overall fantastic hands-on application” while others thanked the course presenters for the opportunity. 

Adventist HealthCare is committed to providing the support for congregations to fulfill Christ’s commission as given in Luke 9:2, “He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” 

“Adventist HealthCare will continue to build partnerships to provide support and fulfill its mission of bringing health to the community,” said Ismael Gama, vice president for Mission Integration and Pastoral Care. To accomplish that, there is no better place than the local congregation, he noted.

The goal of the Health Ministry team is to extend training and support to all churches in the local Adventist conferences and the Columbia Union who might have a need to expand their Health Ministries and revitalize it. 

The next Health Ministry Team Building Course will be held on February 21 and 22, 2009, at WAH. For more information and to sign up, contact Reinert at (301) 891-6102 or


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