Running Thread: Bringing Interfaith Work into Healthcare
October 25, 2022
As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, the deep roots of Interfaith America’s work on higher ed campuses are nourishing shoots of new life, expanding our reach into the civic spaces where we live, work, and play together.
Our nation’s health ecosystem is one of those spaces, as the pandemic has exposed both deep rifts when it comes to health equity and the potential our diverse religious landscape offers to help bridge that divide. That’s why Interfaith America is investing in new initiatives at the intersection of faith and health.
Our vital campus partnerships, along with connections across health-related sectors, have illuminated the value of interfaith engagement in patient-provider interactions. From the Muslim diabetic navigating Ramadan to the evangelical Christian grappling with an unplanned pregnancy, those seeking medical care are better equipped to address complex health-related issues when their caregivers are equipped to engage their patients’ guiding values and practices. Our national Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors (FIVA) program has also highlighted promising outcomes when we engage diverse faith-based organizations as trusted partners in public health.
Here are just a few of our faith and health initiatives that are underway or on the horizon:
- Last Friday, we marked the official completion of our FIVA program with a convening in Charlotte, North Carolina, at The Duke Endowment, which provided $1.2 million for this initiative. (Read about two of our ambassadors in the Endowment’s annual report here and here.)
- This week, we’ve selected 13 campus partners—all historically Black and minority-serving institutions —as subgrantees in our work to destigmatize HIV and AIDS in the South in partnership with Wake Forest Divinity’s Gilead/COMPASS initiative.
- We gave grants to more than 50 educators across the country working on course design, co-curricular programming, or research projects.
- Our colleagues and Emerging Leaders are presenting at national conferences, webinars, and convenings, including a keynote address by Eboo Patel at the Integrative Medicine & Health Symposium next spring.
- Finally, we’re excited to announce a partnership with The Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York. Between July 8 and 15, daily speakers will address topics from mental health to public health to spiritual caregiving in health systems through an interfaith lens.
Interfaith America’s efforts to bridge the faith and health divide grows out of our campus-based work, reaching into congregations and community-based organizations, exam rooms and board rooms, health departments and chaplaincy programs, as we inspire, equip, and connect those who recognize the positive potential of religion in our mutual wellbeing. At this pivotal moment in our journey, we are especially grateful for your support and, as always, welcome your thoughts and questions.
This article was originally published in Interfaith America’s Running Thread newsletter. Subscribe to our newsletters.
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