Newsletter – June, 1999

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 1, No. 6 June 1999

[Note of 11 January 2007: Unfortunately, some of the material mentioned in this newsletter has not been transferred to the new website. I regret the delay, but my time on this site is limited.]

Summer has arrived. With the coming of summer, many people get outside more, interact with their neighbors, and engage in more physical activities. Today, I want to talk about community and health. This also gives me a chance to highlight one of the newest of the free informational resources offered by Companion Resources, our health and medical site found at https://companionresources.org/Resources/Health

First, let me tell you about some of my expanding list of other services.

Health and Community

When we talk about health, most people think of personal individual health. Health care, health products, and health clubs are all big business these days. They all cater to the individual who cares about personal health.

Similarly, there are a wealth of quality web sites dealing with personal health on the World Wide Web. Medical information is available on almost any health condition or situation that one could imagine. As a case in point, I just went to Medline and did a search on our family’s “favorite” topic, fragile X syndrome. Back in 1990 when our son was diagnosed, few physicians even knew anything about fragile X syndrome. The little information available was in obscure medical textbooks or periodicals. Today, I just “put my fingers” on 2040 articles. This is truly amazing!

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You too can find out about almost any health issue, ranging from diets to exercise plans and medicines to obscure illnesses. I have compiled a sample of some of the best that I have found at https://companionresources.org/Resources/Health

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Getting back to the subject of health, though, I must confess that my own growing interest in health comes via “the back door.” While I am certainly concerned about my personal health and the health of my family, I am also concerned about the health of the community at large.

As a pastor, I have always been concerned with the spiritual health of a community of people, both the church I serve, and the larger community to which the church ministers. As an urban pastor, I soon learned to think about the connections between spiritual health and the environment of the city, the emotional health of those who live in the city, and the systems which try to control peoples’ lives. Talking to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts also helped me discover some other important connections between spiritual, mental, and physical health.

However, the most important thing that I continue to discover is the importance of community and health. Many of us have read the appalling statistics on infant mortality in our largest cities. Even though the United States has the most sophisticated health care system in the world today, the infant mortality rate of some of our inner cities equals that of some of the poorest “third-world” nations. Personal health is definitely affected by the environment around us.

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Issues such as infant mortality, addictions, AIDS, etc., are generally looked at as “public health” issues. Public health is the most visible aspect of what I mean when I talk about community health. Visit the Companion Resources page on “Community Health” at https://companionresources.org/Resources/Health

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As someone concerned with the health of the community in which I lived and served, I became active in helping the community deal with its most pressing issues. However, for many years, I did not necessarily think of hunger, homelessness, and addictions as “health issues.” Even the large numbers of persons on the street with mental illness didn’t connect me as much to health as to an area of study I’ve come to know as “community development.”

However, in working with one group of people on issues of community development and how the church could become involved, a nursing instructor joined the group. As she brought the insights of community health nursing to our group, I gained many new insights. Now I make even more connections between health issues for individuals, be those physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, and the health of the community as a whole.

Even more recently, I have been reminded again that more and more conditions that we have always labeled as “mental illness” have some very physical factors that cause them and can be treated very effectively in many situations with medication. At the same time, family care physicians are being trained more and more in both family systems and the spiritual aspects of health.

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To learn more about community development, go to the Companion Resources site at https://companionresources.org/assets. And for resources in dealing with mental illness, see https://companionresources.org/mental.

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As we can see, health involves the interaction of all of us in all aspects of our lives. In the earliest scriptures of the Bible, the Hebrew people learned the meaning of the rich word, “shalom.” Often translated “peace,” this word gathers together the wholeness and health that God desires for everyone.

Until next time, I wish all of you and your community “shalom.”

Paul D. Leichty

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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