MTS: Where religious faith intersects public health

3/19/2009

By Cathy Boatright and Dr. Stan Wood

 Memphis Theological Seminary is intersecting religious faith and public health in its Faith and Health Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) program.
 
The program is being offered in Memphis, a city known both for its soulful Delta heritage and for its ongoing struggle for economic, societal, and spiritual wholeness. 
 
Utilizing the combined resources of selected health institutions and the seminary, this D. Min. track helps learners identify and address issues in justice and health. 
 
In January 2009, MTS student Dr. Randy McCloy and his wife Linda funded the McCloy Faith and Health Faculty Series to assist the seminary in recruiting renowned experts to serve as adjunct professors. These experts in the field provide both classroom instruction and immersion experiences to educate the students on individual, congregational, communal, and global wellness. 
 
Leading practitioners
Among those who serve as The McCloy Faith and Health Faculty adjunct professors are some of the leading practitioners and theorists in the field, including Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson of Methodist LeBonheur and its Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Rev. Dr. Scott Morris, founder and executive director of the Church Health Center, Dr. Isaac Mwase, Associate Professor of Philosophy in the National Center for Bio-Ethics in Research and Healthcare of Tuskegee University and a Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and Dr. John Cochrane, a leading South African theorist in the international faith and health dialogue.
 
In the program, students are required to attend five seminars where they visit and learn from experts at the Church Health Center in Memphis, TN and the Carter Center, Centers for Disease Control, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), and Emory University’s Global Health Initiative in Atlanta. 
At least one component of the study is an international immersion experience. 
 
Each of the five seminars helps prepare the students for their final project, The Project in Ministry, and serves as a catalyst for hands-on application. The seminars “are an excellent experience and stretch us beyond our comfort zones,” says a current student. 
 
The Project in Ministry phase of the program enables students to focus on faith and health issues from their own contexts, using what they have learned from the five seminars. These projects are relevant to their own ministries, make a contribution to the practice of their ministry, and equip their laity to fulfill their calling in ministry. •