Better Health, Better Lives: Health Justice Team
Advocating, educating and promoting a healthful life for all God’s people!
The Health Justice Committee participates in and hosts several fun, helpful and educational activities and events. We welcome any new members who wish to join our committee – no healthcare experience is required (just a desire to help others!)
Healthy Climate, Healthy You
Saint Paul UMC’s Climate Justice and Health Justice teams worked together to welcome experts from around the community to speak on climate and personal health. The series featured three expert speakers and a plant-based fellowship meal during the last session.
January 21 – “A Plant-based Diet and Our Bodies” by Dana Norris, MS, RD, CSSD
Dana is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Eating a plant-based diet, generally meaning no animal products, has many benefits for our health including high dietary fiber, micro-nutrients, and anti-inflammatory effects. This diet works best when you use plant based protein sources and vitamin-mineral sources, incorporate a variety of colorful foods for different nutrients, and utilize different carbohydrates.
January 28 – “Regenerative Agriculture” by Mike Boehm
Mike is the UNL Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource. Regenerative agriculture is a philosophy that encourages minimizing soil disturbance, plants in the ground year round, diversifying crops, precision application, and integrating livestock. Access Mike’s presentation here.
February 4 – “A Plant-based Diet and Our Planet” by Tim Rinne
Tim, along with his wife Kay Walter, have spent well over a decade developing urban gardens called Hawley Hamlet. They aim to expand Lincoln’s local food production, providing easier access to fresh produce for everyone — especially those living in low-income areas — and creating a housing and urban gardening model for Lincoln to follow. Local food tastes better, is healthier, boosts our local economy AND increases food security. Access Tim’s presentation here.
Saint Paul UMC sponsors an Afghan refugee family who recently moved to the US, and the Health Justice Committee coordinates this mission. Tasks include setting up housing, donating furnishings and supplies, assisting in the transition to the community, providing transportation to appointments and emotional support. Interested in commenting on and/or serving this important mission? Contact Ann Cerveny ([email protected]).
The Health Justice Committee partners with Visionary Youth to assist with worthy community events including back-to-school haircuts and backpack give aways, Thanksgiving meal, shoe
and coat giveaways, and Christmas toy giveaways. If you are interested in volunteering for this event, contact Kathryn Borman ([email protected])
Twice yearly (the first Sunday in May and November), the Health Justice Committee organizes an American Red Cross Blood Drive to address the constant need for human blood donations. Contact Patty Bohart ([email protected]) to comment and/or volunteer to help with the planning of this biannual event.
In the fall of 2021, the Health Justice committee (in partnership with Bryan Health) provided an educational series on events related to health, nutrition and health justice. Interested in helping organize a health educational, cooking, nutrition or other event? Contact Pam Edwards ([email protected]).
The health justice committee follows health related issues as they work their way through the Nebraska Unicameral with the goal of educating the congregation and increasing social advocacy. Interested in commenting and/or volunteering for this task? Contact Steve Dunbar ([email protected])
Clinic with a Heart is a faith-inspired organization that serves people who are uninsured and underinsured through a ministry of healthcare. Volunteers provide free healthcare services, including medical, dental, chiropractic, physical therapy, mental health, vision, hearing, dermatology, and spiritual services. Saint Paul UMC is a sponsor of Clinic with a Heart, donating both financially and in volunteer time and commitment to the organization. This is an amazing Lincoln resource which started as a grassroots effort to service individuals in the Lincoln community who are uninsured or underinsured. Saint Paul UMC Health Justice committee has been part of Clinic with a Heart for over ten years, and our recent coordinator is stepping down from his position after ten years of service. We are seeking an individual who would like to serve as Clinic with a Heart coordinator and member of the Health Justice committee. Interested in this important mission? Join the Health Justice Team and send us a message here.
CROP Hunger Walks are community-based walk fundraising events held in cities and towns across the United States, transforming communities around the globe through just and sustainable responses to hunger, poverty, displacement and disaster. After a CROP Hunger Walk ends, 25% of the funds raised is returned to the host community to support local hunger fighting efforts.
Many of us take our excellent health care system in Lincoln for granted. But why is there a 20-year life-expectancy difference between citizens who live in downtown Lincoln vs. citizens who live in southeast Lincoln?
That question is best answered by understanding the concepts of Equity and Equality. Equality means each person gets the same thing, whereas Equity means each person gets what they need. Think of it this way: if bicycles were assigned to citizens under a model of equality, each bicycle would be the same size, type, and shape. Under an equitable system, this one-size-fits-all approach is modified to meet the needs of the individual. Some might need a bigger bicycle, some a smaller bicycle, and some might need a bicycle with training wheels. An equitable system can bend to meet the needs of the individual, whereas an equal system asks the individual to do the bending.
The health care needs of Lincoln’s downtown residents are simply not being met. Those shortfalls may be related to lack of access to health care, preventive medicine, substance abuse treatment, mental health care treatment, nutrition, prenatal care, or a number of other areas within the healthcare system.
We have learned that a true Christian community gives to others according to their needs, not according to their value. In an ideal Christian community, equity, not equality is both the goal and the result.
Interested in learning more about the concepts of Equity vs. Equality?
Here’s a great article by UNL extension educator Emily Gratopp, MS.
So what can we do now to ease the healthcare gap that exists in Lincoln? Here’s a list of referral resources that currently exist for all individuals:
- The 211 helpline is a free service that refers callers to non-emergency health & human
services in Nebraska, including housing assistance, clothing, food pantries/meal sites, shelters, counseling, health clinics, employment, financial assistance, and transportation. Access this resource by:
- Call 2-1-1
- Text 898211
- Visit the website ne211.org
- MyLink is an app (and website) which provides a comprehensive list of resources available in the Lincoln community, including food, housing, health, disability, children and family, senior services, LGBTQ, refugee, and immigrant, legal, prison re-entry, financial, education, military and veteran, recreation and cultural centers and transportation. MyLink is available in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Somali, Spanish and
Vietnamese. Download at mylink.app.
Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ
- Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
- Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
- Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
- Preaching justice
- SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
- We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.
We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church. Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology. They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.
- Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group. One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice. We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
- We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
- Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
- Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).
Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus: racial justice, ecological justice, and health care. Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.