New Study on Christian Healthcare Underway

WASHINGTON – The National Council of Churches is spearheading the first nationwide survey of health services provided by religious communities.

“This study enables our member communions to gain a much better understanding of what is being done by, and with, congregations in health care, and to begin to build a network of congregations active in health care,” said the Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the NCC.

The project will survey more than 100,000 congregations to determine the level of health care education, delivery, and advocacy being offered, according to NCC, and will be the most in-depth study of its kind.

Christian and other faith groups have long provided vital social services to the poor, standing in the forefront of the battle against poverty and disaster.

According to Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, head of the NCC Research and Planning Office who will be directing the project, the survey will answer the question of exactly how much faith communities are providing.

“This study will give us the first real snapshot of just what faith-based activities there are in the health care arena,” said Lindner.

Lindner is familiar with monitoring church statistics, having edited the NCC’s annual Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches for nearly 20 years. She hopes that the study will help faith leaders and health care providers determine the extent of religious support in delivering health-related services to communities across the country.

“This inventory will provide national church leaders with detailed information about the various health care ministries carried out in diverse types of congregations in faithfulness to Jesus whose own ministry was so often one of healing,” said Lindner.

The study is being funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and will also be extended to Jewish and Muslim congregations wishing to report their services to the poor.