Indy church coalition holds virtual town hall to discuss health care

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — There will be a virtual town hall Friday afternoon to discuss how churches can help minority communities get better healthcare. 

A coalition of ten churches has been out in communities talking to people about disparities they’ve seen and how they’d like to see them addressed. 

The “Congregations as Health Connectors” event will start at noon. You can register at this link or watch live on Facebook.

The ten different churches that make up the #HealthyMe Learning Community include First Baptist North Indianapolis, Mt. Zion Baptist, Allen Chapel AME, St. John AME, Crossroads AME, Bethel Cathedral AME, Purpose of Life, Witherspoon Presbyterian, and Broadway United Methodist.  

The community is convened by Good to the SOUL, LLC and organized by the Monon Collaborative. 

Churches often serve as anchors into communities, so going through the churches gave access to hear people’s stories. 

This coalition looks at the role the congregation and its leaders play in influencing positive health outcomes. 

The group began their work back in January of last year, before the pandemic hit. They started doing virtual community conversations from June to December. 

The event Friday will be a summary of all the info and stories they’ve collected and will start a conversation about where they go from here. 

“So resolution and eradication in a short amount of time is not particularly realistic. But certainly, beginning those conversations that may lead to eradication of disparities,” said Good to the Soul CEO Reverend Shonda Nicole Gladden. 

Studies show that Black Americans and other minorities are dying more often and at younger ages in hospitals. 

There is also a lack of trust in healthcare for some because of negative experiences in the past. That includes the Tuskegee Syphilis Study where Black men with the disease were studied, but not given the proper treatment. 

This strategy with this group is to work with churches to find out what their communities need. 

“These congregations talked about what are their communities seeing? What are the things that are keeping their neighbors up at night?” asked Reverend Gladden. 

“How do these health disparities that don’t always normally get talked about in places like church, relate to the holistic health of congregates and subsequently the neighbors around them, whether they are church people or not.” 

Moving forward, Rev. Gladden says they hope to expand the conversation beyond churches to other community anchors and hospitals and health department representatives. 

“We’ve begun having some of these conversations in informal ways, but we’d like to broaden the table of conversation so that we may see real systemic and policy change in healthcare systems particularly for people who are brown and Black and impoverished.” 

The coalition also has health input from IU School of Medicine. 

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