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North Park and Howard Universities Dialogue on Faith and Health

Mary Chase-Ziolek's New Book on Faith and Health

CHICAGO (November 23, 2009) – Students from North Park and Howard universities recently participated via teleconference in a class on church healthcare ministries.

North Park professor Dr. Mary Chase-Ziolek, who has guided the school's pioneering work connecting issues of faith and healthcare, led the class. “The teleconference provided a unique occasion to expand the classroom for both schools,” she said.

Howard professor Dr. R. Frank Gillum invited Chase-Ziolek to speak to his class, "Plagues, Prayers, Prophecy and Providence: Religion and the Health of African Americans.” The class is using her book, Health, Healing and Wholeness: Engaging Congregations in Ministries of Health. Ziolek spoke on how congregations can develop their own ministries of health.

During a discussion period, students in Chase-Ziolek’s online course, “Engaging Congregations in Ministries of Health,” emailed her questions she asked of the class at Howard, which is located in Washington, D.C. The Howard students emailed questions for the North Park students.

“It was fun to hear from these seven students in African American churches that range in size from 40 to 8,000 members,” said Chase-Ziolek, who also is director of North Park’s Center for Faith and Health. “The churches represented by the students ranged in age from 45 to 206, and each had a distinctive approach to promoting health.”

She added that other educational institutions are beginning to put more emphasis on the connection between faith and health. Howard’s School of Divinity invited Gillum, an epidemiologist who previously worked for the Centers for Disease Control, to start its faith and health program.

Local congregations also are increasingly developing ministries of health, inspired in part by Chase-Ziolek’s work. In addition to the Howard teleconference, she recently led a workshop at Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills, Mich. Her co-leader was Bob Hoey, pastor of Messiah Covenant Church, which has attracted national attention for its community health clinic.

Nearly three-dozen people from four Covenant churches participated in the workshop. The conference was partially funded through a Practicing Our Faith grant North Park Theological Seminary received from the Valparaiso Project’s initiative, “Honoring the Body: Spreading the Word.”