Keynote: Making FaithHealth Normal

Making FaithHealth Normal – Keynote Presentation

The keynote shares how we move beyond promising practices to everyday mercy on the way to justice. Over the past quarter century, the movement linking faith and community health, now being understood using the lens of religious health assets, has seen substantial innovation, including, in no small measure, Kansas. Rev. Dr. Gary GundersonSome of these innovations have now passed the bar of peer-reviewed research and many have become accepted by leaders at all levels of denominational presence. Now is the time to finish what has begun.

Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson is Vice President for the Division of Faith and Health Ministries at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center which includes spiritual care, Clinical Pastoral Education, and counseling centers in 32 locations across North Carolina. The division is developing clinically relevant partnerships with hundreds of faith groups through FaithHealthNC. Gunderson is known for more than two decades of creative work in the field of faith and public health; initially at the Carter Center and Emory School of Public Health and then in Memphis, Tennessee where the ideas found ground through more than 530 congregational partners showing hard evidence of significant improved outcomes including mortality, cost, and dramatically lower hospitalization. The work has been cited by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the American Hospital Association, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the World Health Organization, the White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous industry venues.

This model is now being adapted to the very different operational demands of an 850-bed academic medical center with a large referral areas demanding complex partnerships. FaithHealthNC is working closely with the North Carolina Hospital Association and regional foundations to spread the model across the state. Gunderson is also Secretary of Stakeholder Health, a learning group of more than 40 healthcare systems convened in working collaboration with the White House and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Gunderson is Professor of Public Health Science at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Professor of the Health of the Public in the School of Divinity. He is visiting faculty at the University of Cape Town Division of Family Medicine and Public Health where he was also one of the founders of the International Religious Health Assets Program.

Gary is an ordained American Baptist Minister with degrees from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Doctor of Ministry at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He also holds an honorary doctorate from the Chicago Theological Seminary.