Faith leaders are going back to school at Methodist to better care for their congregations

Published On 03/08/2012

Thanks to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s Congregational Health Network (CHN), people across Memphis are seeing and understanding the connection between faith and health like never before. 

Perry Little, Chaplain Manager at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital and Director of Education for the CHN, says regular classes provided by the network are reaching an increasingly receptive audience—and participants are spreading the word. 

“It’s all been very positive,” Little said. “Participants are telling their pastors and they are telling other pastors, and we’re seeing more congregations want to become part of the CHN.” 

Currently, about 480 churches are part of the CHN, a collaborative partnership between Methodist’s hospitals and Mid-South congregations. The goal is to create a network of congregations and faith communities that will share in the ministry of caring for patients before, during and after the time they visit a Methodist facility. 

As part of its mission, the CHN offers a series of seven-week, weekly classes on topics ranging from hospital visitation skills and navigating the hospital system to how to live with conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. The sessions are taught primarily by Methodist Healthcare chaplains, nurses and physicians.

 Taking place on Thursday nights, classes are offered almost year-round at Methodist University Hospital and the Germantown campus as well as at Crittenden Regional Hospital in West Memphis. Classes are free of charge and open to anyone, CHN members and non-members alike. 

Little says the idea of a healthcare system partnering with church congregations makes solid sense. 

“Our primary aim is to produce better healthcare outcomes in the community,” Little said. “You have to go where the people are. Studies have shown that 88 percent of patients we see in Methodist facilities have attended a church in the preceding three or four weeks.” 

As attendance at classes increases and word about the CHN spreads to more and more churches, the dream of a healthier Memphis becomes more and more of a reality. And Little and other leaders in the CHN see the faith-health connection as key to that reality. 

“I see faith and health going hand in hand,” he said. “It reminds me of a verse from one of John’s epistles (3 John: 2). ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.’ The healthier and better we are physically, the better we can serve spiritually.” 

To learn more about the CHN or to enroll in any of its classes, call 901-516-7481.