Faith and Health Disparities Conference a phenomenal success

Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. and Faith Based Community Leaders shared ideas and solutions at the Faith and Health Summit at Lee Chapel AME; presented by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and Nashville Health Disparities Coalition. (photo: D. Culp)

Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. and Faith Based Community Leaders shared ideas and solutions at the Faith and Health Summit at Lee Chapel AME; presented by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and Nashville Health Disparities Coalition. (photo: D. Culp)

The North Nashville based Lee Chapel AME Church hosted a Faith and Health Summit, themed ‘The Role of Congregations in Health’ on April 8. The informative conference style event was presented by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance in partnership with the Nashville Health Disparities Coalition.

Objectives included: teaching how to support and engage the faith based community; identifying the existing assets in congregations; providing opportunities for attendees to build on various community assets; what local congregations are already doing; and recognizing congregations that are doing exemplary work to improve community health.

Emmanuel Ehiehmua was the master of ceremonies who seamlessly carried the program from beginning to end. Five Faith Based Health Equity Awards of $1,000 each were granted at the summit to some of the many deserving and qualifying area churches, including: Corinthian Baptist Church, Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church, New Life Thru Christ Ministries, Second Missionary Baptist Church, and St. James AME Church.

U-Kno Catering provided both a healthy continental breakfast and a tasty lunch. The forum opened promptly with a hearty welcome from state Rep. and senior pastor of Lee Chapel AME Church, Harold M. Love, Jr. This was followed by a devotional by Rev. Dr. Robin Kimbrough, Meharry Medical College. Rev. Edwin C. Sanders II of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church delivered a powerful opening message. Pediatrician Dr. Kimberlee Etheridge, Meharry Medical College, spoke on the benefits of ‘Faith for Health’ and a series of community asset mappings took place in small groups, e.g.: ‘Congregational Health and Education (CHEN)’ with Dr. Kimberly Lamar, Nashville General Hospital; ‘Congregational Health Models’ with Kristy Sinkfield, Payne Chapel AME Church; Gwen Hamer, Tenn. Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, St. James Missionary Baptist Church.

Tabletop Asset Mapping facilitated interactive discussions amongst the attendees at their chosen tables and the facilitators did an asset mapping report out when it was over.

Lunch was served, and the Faith Based Awards were handed out by Dr. Cynthia Jackson, Meharry Medical College, Nashville Health Disparities Coalition—along with Dr. Consuelo H. Wilkins of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.

A well-placed call to action was delivered by Harold M. Love, Jr. as were the much-deserved ‘thank yous’ and acknowledgement of the hallway vendors and all who had a part in putting together and facilitating the event. The kudos and gratitude list included this year’s planning committee and the Faith and Health Collaborative, including: Claudia P. Barajas, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Jacquelyn S. Favors, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance; Elisa Friedman, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance; Dr. Cynthia Jackson, Meharry Medical College, North Nashville Disparities Coalition; Linda McClellan, MMC-REACH 2020; Samuel McCullough , MMC- REACH; Soteria Pearson, Nashville General Hospital; Emmanuel Ehiehanna, Tennessee Department of Health; Tene H. Franklin, Tennessee Department of Health; Theresa Howse, Metro Public Health Department; Rev. Herbert Lester, Clark United Methodist Church; Judith McCoy, Nashville General Hospital; Bishop Minnie Mitchell, New Life Ministries; and Rev. Neely Williams, New Unity Church.

An invaluable daylong event of this magnitude required a myriad of long hours, planning and staunch teamwork. Interactions between faith, health, educational and over all academic liaisons (like the
Faith and Health Collaborative) made it possible to work effectively.

Participating groups included: Clark United Methodist Church, Meharry Medical College, Metro Public Health Department, Nashville General Hospital, New Life Thru Christ Ministries, Open Table Nashville, Saint Thomas Health, Siloam Family Health, Vanderbilt University, Earth Matter Tenn., the Vanderbilt Health Alliance, Middle Tenn. YMCA, Nashville Health, Rooted Community Health, New Unity Church, Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt Medical Center and Bishop Minnie Mitchell, made the Faith and Health Collaborative.

The financial awards grants are (in part) to help recognize various partnerships between health care systems, academic institutions, community organizations and faith based organizations to improve health outcomes for congregants or community members.