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Heal the Sick Program

In order to prepare leaders to engage more fully in healing ministries, Wesley Theological Seminary has launched the Heal the Sick Program.  Through this community-based ministry collaboration, Wesley Theological Seminary will equip ministry leaders who will support congregations’ development of health ministries and link such ministries with hospitals, community organizations, public health institutions, and health care providers.  Modeled after promising practices in other communities, we believe that collaboration among health ministries and with these providers will reduce health disparities, particularly reaching out to the poor and improving the health of those in greatest need.

If you would like more information about the Heal the Sick program or would like to work with us in the District of Columbia, Greater Baltimore or Northern Virginia regions, please email us at or call 202-706-6838.

Key Roles

Equip - Prepare leaders for various roles as collaborator, listener, coordinator, and critical thinker in promoting health and healing

Support - Assist congregations' health ministries and help develop their role to discern their direction and partners

Catalyze - Initiate network creation or support existing networks among congregations, hospitals, and associations

Serve - Work as facilitator for sustaining communication and collaboration among local leaders to serve the common good.

What is Health Ministry?

Today there is a need for wholistic health, personally and communally. Having an active health ministry meets at the intersection of theological reflection and practical application.

A health ministry is a faith-based initiative that promotes wholeness.  Health ministry educates and empowers individuals and communities by emphasizing the need for health education and preventative care. A form of health ministry might already exist in your congregation as part of your faith community’s healing mission. A health ministry can be built from existing ministries that attempt to care for the whole person.  Those ministries may include social justice, religious education, volunteer visitors, hospitality, and youth ministries. Working together, members of a congregation can greatly improve the health of their members as well as the entire community.


Five Sample Health Ministry Models

There are numerous models of health ministry.  Below you will find a sample list of five different models that can be used as part of a faith community’s health ministry.  We encourage you to look at your faith community’s current structure and existing ministries.  Find ways to improve coordination and communications among all ministries by forming an organized health ministry.  Find a model that works best for you, your faith community, and your community.

  • Congregational Health & Wellness Ministry – Many congregations have or are developing organized health ministry that address a faith community’s health internal and external.  Health ministry seeks to find common ground among other congregational ministries, such as social justice, religious education, volunteer visitors, hospitality, and youth ministries.  Health ministry sees health wholistically.  A Health ministry is representative of faith community and community members.

Health ministers and faith community nurses often play key roles in health and wellness ministries.  Health ministries actively supported by clergy meet regularly to discuss and plan health activities that benefit the congregation as well as the community.  A sample of health ministry activities may include support groups, speakers on specific topics, visitation ministries, and advocacy efforts.


  • Health Ministers - Health ministers are healthcare professionals, barbers, stay at home parents, and lawyers to accountants.  They can take be health navigators, wellness coaches, outreach workers, health educators, and health ambassadors, promoters de salud, and health promoters.  Health ministers are often part of a health and wellness ministry/team.  They can work with faith community nurses  to organize, plan, and evaluate health ministry activities


  • Faith Community Nursing.  The American Nurse Association working with the Health Ministries Association approved a new registered nurse certification program for Faith Community Nurses.  Faith Community Nursing, formerly known as parish nursing, is a process for active licensed registered nurses to obtain a specialty practice certification by portfolio beginning in 2014.  Some of the key roles of a faith community nurse may include health education, health counseling, referrals, health ministry team coordinator and volunteer coordination.


  • Hospital/Primary Care Based Congregational Networks.  With the new Affordable Care Act healthcare legislation emphasizing population based care and improved health care continuity for patients, the health minister and faith community nurse roles shows promise.  From a hospital’s and primary care provider’s perspective, these roles are valuable in that they provide linkages and connections into the community, especially faith communities.   With health ministers working together with FCNs in congregational or primary care health and wellness teams or committees, new models will and can emerge.  


  • Community Based Congregational Networks.  Health ministry teams from different places of worship often join together in local or regional networks to share resources and support each other through regular meetings.  Collaborating together the health ministry teams can form a community based network that self-determines their own goals, objectives, and mission.   As a group they can be a powerful advocate for their faith communities and the community at large.

Connect to a Regional Network

Wesley Theological Seminary is a catalyst in the development of a program of faith and community-based health in the District of Columbia, greater Baltimore, and greater Northern Virginia.  The Heal the Sick Program is adapted from the transformative congregational health network model pioneered by Methodist LeBonheur Hospital system in Memphis, Tennessee known as the Memphis Community Health Network.

Through the Heal the Sick Program, Wesley equips faith community leaders who will support congregations’ development of health ministries and organize the community toward healthier lifestyles that reduce health disparities and poverty caused by chronic disease. This will be accomplished by bringing congregations and community organizations together with primary health care providers in relationships that promote wholistic health for the community, prevents disease and reduces hospital visits/readmissions.

If you would like more information about regional networks, please e-mail us at or call us at 202-706-6838.


Wesley Theological Seminary is working with D.C. congregations, Children’s National Medical Center, Howard University Hospital, D.C. Department of Health & Human Services - Places of Worship and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships to reduce health disparities in the District of Columbia through creation of faith and health partnerships. We are building and strengthening collaborations that bring together the resources of many organizations and congregations for improved community health. DC has some of the highest rates in the nation of HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, diabetes and asthma. Within D.C. there are tremendous disparities in health and health care access.

Wesley Theological Seminary is working with Baltimore area congregations, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and the Baltimore-Washington Conference Hope for the City (Baltimore) initiative to improve the health of greater Baltimore residents through faith and health partnerships. We are working with several greater Baltimore congregational health ministries to develop a greater Baltimore regional network to provide a long term, sustainable structure for this work. We seek to build and strengthen collaborations that bring together the resources of many organizations and congregations for improved community health.

Wesley Theological Seminary is working with Inova Health Care to improve the health of greater Northern Virginia residents through faith and health partnerships. We are working with congregations and Inova Health Care to build and strengthen collaborations that bring together the resources of hospital and community health care organizations and congregations for improved community health.


Congregational Health Ministry Development

Congregations are healing places where we learn about the presence of God in our lives.  As Wesley develops future clergy and lay leaders, it is important they know about the practical multitude of challenges that congregations face today.  As a seminary and an educational institution, it is important to us at Wesley that we journey as a collaborative partner with congregations.   Wesley hopes to offer our educational assets as a means for current clergy and lay leaders to grow and development.    Wesley desires to build and support health ministries and connect them to congregational networks so congregations, Wesley, and community organizations can learn together and support each other.

Congregational Listening Sessions

A limited number of congregational consultations are available with our Heal the Sick program throughout the Fall, Winter, and Spring.  The goals of the consultations are to help faith communities assess and evaluate their internal and external ministries, structures and relationships.   Wesley Heal the Sick staff and Wesley students conduct the face to face consultation with a faith community’s leadership.  The consultation uses a fourteen question rating tool that can be e-mailed prior to a scheduled face to face interview.  The interview at the congregation takes about two hours to complete.  After two weeks, a summary report is compiled and sent with recommendations to the faith community.

Some benefits of the congregational consultations:

  • Improved communication and coordination of various congregational ministries.
  • Importance of measuring the good you and your congregation do
  • Greater awareness of faith community, clergy, and ministry assets & needs
  • Connecting your congregation to current community and hospital resources to enhance ministries and congregational life.


If you or your congregation is interested in a congregational consultation, please contact or 202-706-6838.

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