Wanted: Congregations to Partner with Houston Methodist Hospital’s Community Health Ministry

Date Posted: 1/26/2017

The TAC Mercy Ministry Team is seeking 10+ churches to serve as “health hubs” in a faith and health ministry initiative to promote congregational and community health in the Houston/Beaumont area.
Imagine a “Stephen’s Ministry” in the context of physical health and wellness and you can begin to understand Methodist Hospital’s new Golden Care Ministry Program. “The church has a long history of ministering to both the spiritual and the physical health of the individual. From Jesus to John Wesley, health and physical wellbeing were active areas of ministry. And this very hospital, Houston Methodist Hospital is, and always has been, a testament to our historical and theological call to minister to both the physical and the spiritual. Golden Care is working to reclaim the other half of this call,” says Rev. Kim Mabry, who is serving in extension ministry as the new program manager for Houston Methodist Hospital’s Golden Care Ministry. Golden Care, a collaboration of the Texas Annual Conference, and Houston Methodist Hospital, has been formed to create opportunities for health and wellness by coordinating relationships and resources between congregations, communities, and hospitals.
Bishop Jones states, “Golden Care appeals to our Wesleyan DNA. We are a people who care about the whole person – body, mind and soul. The Texas Annual Conference has a great asset in Houston Methodist Hospital and this new effort strengthens our partnership as we serve our community together.”
Ministry Need and Goals
Surprisingly, most emergency room visits and hospital readmissions could easily be prevented if people had access to basic resources such as proper nutrition, affordable medicines, and access to transportation to and from medical appointments. “As Methodists, we have an extraordinary resource in our connectional system,” adds Kim. “Imagine what a difference we could make in people’s lives if our communities and congregations pooled together their skills and resources to help one another. If the youth from one church were helping build a wheelchair ramp for a sick person of another church.  Or, maybe a rural church has some produce to bring into town for a needy family of an urban church.  We need churches to begin thinking local about mission and Golden Care Ministry is here to help make this happen.”
According to Kim, much of the congregational organizing for Golden Care will be done through the Mercy Ministry Team which is part of the Center for Missional Excellence of the Texas Annual Conference. The team will be working with the District Superintendents and clergy leadership to find congregations to be "health hubs” in different regions around the seven Houston Methodist Hospital locations as well as high patient population areas such as Beaumont. The general structure of Golden Care Ministry will include:
  • Assist discharged hospital patients with health and safety needs (medical transportation, food, household needs).
  • Provide at least one congregation member to be trained as a Community Health Worker.
  • Organize a Golden Care Mission Team with a “liaison” to act as the primary point of contact for communication with the hospital.
Golden Care Ministry:
  • Provides the resources for training and support depending on parish needs.
  • Organizes congregational health seminars and screenings.
  • Communicates with congregation liaison regarding patient needs.
  • Works with the TAC Mercy Ministry Team to recruit, organize, and train congregational partners.
Houston Methodist:
  • Assist congregation members in finding a PCP/Medical Home.
  • Assist congregation members in understanding and navigating new healthcare legislation.
  • Sponsor health seminars and screenings, and possible tele-medicine portals on church campuses.
Proven Model
“We are not inventing the wheel, but using what is called the ‘Memphis Model.’  Over 10 years ago, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee created what is called a congregational health network,” explains Kim, “and it is our dream to bring this faith based approach to healthcare into Houston and beyond.”  In the last few months, Houston Methodist Hospital has welcomed St. John’s Downtown as the first Golden Care congregational partner. Since the highest number of readmissions come from central Houston, she says Rev. Rudy Rasmus has gone full speed with some amazing plans to offer people of the congregation and community a resource for continued access to care. Adds Kim, “In my time here at Houston Methodist Hospital, I have come to see the hospital as a true reflection of the Kingdom of God.  Every day, we literally wash the hands and feet of people of all races, religions, sexual orientation, and citizenship, whether you are a president or a pauper, the hospital gown becomes this great equalizer, and everything that divides us goes away and it is just people caring for people. The dream of Golden Care Ministry, is that we help congregations replicate these Kingdom moments just as fully outside of the hospital.” 
Learn More
There will be two presentations about Golden Care Ministry this Sunday, January 29.  This first is at St. Paul’s UMC - Houston at 9:45 am in the Journeys Sunday school class and then later that afternoon at the Central South District Leadership training from 2-4pm at First UMC (Westchase Campus). “I am so excited about Golden Care and I am happy to come and talk to any group or any church at any time,” adds Kim. Churches interested in being a “health hub” or participating as a congregational partner, can contact the TAC Center for Missional Excellence or Kim Mabry. More information will also be available at Annual Conference in May.