From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:36:12


                         by Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy 
(ACSWP) has given a clean bill of health to a churchwide report on 
health care to be submitted the 207th General Assembly (1995) in 
Cincinnati.  The report recommends ways to implement two previous 
Assembly decisions. 
     These include a policy statement adopted by the 200th General 
Assembly (1988) titled "Life Abundant: Values, Choices, and Health 
Care: The Responsibility and Role of the Presbyterian Church 
(U.S.A.)" and a resolution approved by the 203rd General Assembly 
(1991) titled "Resolution on Christian Responsibility and a 
National Medical Plan." 
     The Rev. Peter Sulyok, ACSWP associate for policy development 
and interpretation, said the report, titled "Call to Healing and 
Wholeness: A Review of the PC(USA)'s Health Care Policy and Program 
with Recommendations," summarizes the process, conclusions and 
recommendations of ACSWP's Health Care Study Team in response to 
these decisions. 
     The Rev. John Sharick, executive presbyter of Eastminster 
Presbytery in Youngstown, Ohio, and chairman of the 1988 health 
care task force, said he believes some of the programs outlined in 
the report -- such as those focusing on AIDS and health care for 
women and the poor -- could become models for the nation. 
     "Now that we know where some of these ministries are located, 
they in fact can be lifted up as [examples] ... not only for the 
church, but for society," Sharick said. 
     Following two meetings, a churchwide staff consultation, and 
extensive research, ACSWP's Health Care Study Team concluded: 
     * Many Presbyterians have not yet learned of or reaffirmed the 
basic premises of making health care decisions according to 
biblical, theological and faith values. 
     * Ambiguities complicate health issues for the church, such 
as whether health is a faith issue or a secular concern, which 
value systems dominate thinking and action, and how to be a 
faithful steward and advocate for justice in health care while 
participating in the current health care system. 
     * The PC(USA)'s previous health policy is still relevant, but 
needs to be acted upon in the context of current political, social 
and economic conditions. 
     * Wider knowledge and implementation of previous policy, with 
the addition of new policy responding to emerging health problems 
and ethical choices, is more important now than ever. 
     "We want to help people understand the basic call to take care 
of themselves as part of their responsibilities as Christians," 
said the Rev. Dave Zuverink, associate for health ministries U.S.A. 
in the National Ministries Division. "We really need, as children 
of God, to take care of the temple that God has given us." 
     In reviewing the documents, Sulyok said, the study team 
concluded they were "good guidance for the church today." He said 
the group thoroughly reviewed the denomination's current programs 
and called on all General Assembly entities to comment on how they 
have been implemented in their respective areas. 
     Additionally, Sulyok said, the group surveyed five synods and 
33 presbyteries that responded to their churchwide questionnaire 
to assess what activities are occurring at the grassroots level. 
     Synods cited educational programs or consultive services 
(addressing HIV/AIDS, for example) and advocacy on public policy 
as their primary issues. 
     Major program areas noted at the presbytery and congregational 
levels were awareness, advocacy, education, skills training and 
direct ministry in health care. 
     "There are some exciting things happening in health care 
throughout the church now," Sulyok said. "And we encourage more 
people to become aware of them and imitate them." 
                              # # # 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
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