I think most of my readers are aware that I am a member of the Standing Commission on Health of the Episcopal Church. One of the tasks I undertook for the Commission was trying to get some idea how many “health ministries” could be identified within the Episcopal Church. To get some idea (and it’s only an idea), I went through those pages of the Episcopal Church Annual that listed “Special Agencies and Institutions/General Service Organizations,” and specifically those pages of “Health and Welfare Agencies Related to Diocese or Parishes of the Episcopal Church.” These are listed by Diocese, and are generally sorted in to the categories of Children, Youth, and Families; Chaplaincy Services and Counseling; Facilities and Services for Older Persons; Hospitals, Convalescent Homes, and Clinics; Neighborhood and Community Services; Residences, Rest Homes, and Retreat Centers; and Specialized Ministries.
So, I simply went through and counted. As I did so, I set up a spreadsheet that listed the number of such organizations with specifically identifiable health ministries. I also added a few organizations and institutions I knew of that were not associated with diocese or parishes, but instead with other Episcopal bodies. At the end I had the numbers of such ministries where I could determine that they existed. In the process, I developed some comments and assumptions:
1. One can ask "what is an Episcopal health care ministry?" All the institutions and ministries counted for this report were identified as associated with a specific diocese or Episcopal organization in The Episcopal Church Annual. 2. Within that list, the relationships between individual dioceses and individual institutions may take several different forms. 3. Note that most of the institutions listed serve primarily seniors. Not all provided information about levels of health care offered. Where I could find the information, whether in the Annual or on line, that an institution provided skilled care, long term care, etc., I included it in my count. Where information seemed to indicate a residence facility for seniors who were fully independent, I did not include it. 4. My best guess is that this number is low: that there are programs associated with congregations that are not associated with dioceses in the Annual, or ministries listed once that have multiple locations. 5. As we know, this is always a changing list. For example, this includes ministries in the Diocese of Texas where institutions are in transition.
That list has been posted and is now available on the Documents page of the Standing Commission on Health in the General Convention web site. The numbers are on the first sheet and the comments and assumptions on the second. Note that where I couldn’t identify such a ministry in a particular diocese, I did not include that diocese in the list. That said, note my comment (4) above. I’m certain there are ministries that this didn’t capture. I thought folks might find it of interest, and so you can now find it here. If there are questions, they can be posted here or emailed to me through this site.