Religion and Health

Session Description
Religion – broadly defined – continues to play a major role in individual and communal approaches to health in local and global settings: how people and communities understand life fully lived, process sickness and fight disease and dis-ease; why people seek or avoid certain conventional and non-conventional healthcare practices and procedures; how individuals and communities cope with collective trauma and build hope; and how people create, understand, and administer integrated healthcare systems for human and environmental flourishing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Indeed, WHO sees “the extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge” as “essential to the fullest attainment of health.”

Despite major advances in modern scientific medicine, including the eradication of some diseases, the challenges of global and public health – the health of populations – continue to escape the capacities and resources of any singular discipline. Chronic diseases remain unsolved; historically marginalized communities suffer from social illnesses and internalized traumas that require medical, religious, and cultural competencies to diagnose and address; and the wider experiences of human suffering, ageing, and death continue to raise questions about the value and meaning of life. These questions touch on the human body and its constituent parts: the heart, the mind, the spirit, the brain, the womb, etc.; impact the social body, with its constituent parts: culture, art and music, ethnicity and race, history, education, family, etc.; and affect the ecological body, with its constituent parts: the water, the plants, the food, the economy, etc. How might religious theories and praxis, faith and action, contribute to proper holistic diagnoses and responses to these BIG issues of life and health and meaning? 


General Topics

  • How might religion be considered a health asset in global and local healthcare work?

  • The role of religion, spirituality, and faith in understanding transnational migrations and advancement of global health.

  • The role of religion in advocating for holistic mental and palliative care for traumatized and marginalized communities, including religious minorities

  • How does/might religion inform – and be informed by – environmental studies?

  • What ritual and artistic practices and values might undergird and advance effective holistic health for residential (proximate) and migrant (mobile) populations? 

  • “Global Leaves for Global Health”: The intersection of medicinal plants and religion


Presenters are especially encouraged to show how their work functions as a catalyst for Health

General Expected Outcomes for 2019 Session
•    Contribute to knowledge in the interdisciplinary field of Religion and Health
•    Build partnerships between healthcare professionals and religious thought leaders and educators, towards collaborative work on community and public health
•    Establish networks between religious, mental, and palliative care workers and institutions in LMICs to develop and enhance research and capacity building for community health.

Learn more

Speakers/Panelists (subject to Change)

Dr Kenneth N Ngwa

Session Chair,  Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Christianities in Global Contexts, Drew University

Dr Gary Strichartz

Professor, Chaplain and Director of Pain Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School


Pastor, Being Church, Orlando Florida

Rev. Eric Markman

Pastor, Hartford Street Presbyterian Church, Natick, MA

Rev. Dr. Moses Biney

Associate Professor of Religion and Society - New York Theological Seminary and Pastor, Bethel Presbyterian Reformed Church, Brooklyn, NY

Sharon KIMBERLY Williams

Doctoral Candidate, Studies in Religion and the Fine Arts

The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and Drew Theological School

Imam Dr. Asif Hirani

Imam of the Islamic Center of Worcester, MA

Rev. Vanessa Wilson

JD, Senior Pastor Magnolia Road and St. Paul United Methodist Churches (New Jersey)

Rev. Cindy Kohlmann

Moderator, Presbyterian Church USA



Catalyzing collaborations, powerful talks, international panels, Networking,  Poster sessions, exhibits, Awards, Workshops, Knowledge sharing

Saturday May 25th 2019 10:15 am to 12:30 pm

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