CTCA Offers Churches New Lay Ministry Training Program To Serve Congregants with Cancer
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Tulsa, Okla. – Churches now have greater resources to help them as they minister to their members and people in the community struggling with cancer.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), a national network of cancer hospitals, has developed a lay ministry program to help churches better understand and meet the needs of cancer patients in their congregations through a spiritual outreach called “Our Journey of Hope.” The free training is the first of its kind offered by a major cancer hospital network.
The Our Journey of Hope spiritual outreach program has four
- Lay Ministry Training, which consists of two four-hour training sessions for lay ministers and clergy and a comprehensive Lay Ministry Training Kit;
- A Speaker Series that gives newly trained lay ministers a resource for planning regular mini-seminars to connect with patients inside and outside their church;
- Our Journey Of Hope website, which serves as an ongoing resource for church leaders and lay ministers;
- Regular Patient Updates. When a church member visits a CTCA hospital for treatments, with the patient’s permission the hospital will keep the church informed of its member’s needs and condition.
“With Our Journey of Hope, it’s easy to show church leaders the impact they and their lay ministers can have on the well-being of current cancer patients,” said Rev. Michael A. Langham, director of pastoral care at CTCA’s Tulsa facility. “This can give church members a renewed sense of purpose and, in many cases, help them fill a gap created by an increasingly overburdened healthcare system.”
The training program is based on CTCA’s physical and spiritual work with thousands of cancer patients over 20 years.
“In that time we’ve learned a great deal about the unique needs of cancer patients, their family members and caregivers,” said Langham. “Cancer patients often tell us that, while their churches are clearly eager to help, church members aren’t always sure what to say or do.”
He offered the example of well- meaning church members who may bring cakes and cookies, when what the patient needs most is nutritional meals, help with errands, or simply someone to talk and pray with.
"Lay members of my congregation are often around individuals who have cancer and are undergoing various therapies,” said Rev. David Frerichs, Bethany Lutheran Church ELCA in Tulsa, Okla. “The information in this training makes a huge difference because it provides basic information about what cancer is and how it is treated. The information comes in a form people can digest and provides a foundation for developing caring ministries within our congregation.”
Numerous studies have shown that spiritual support has a dramatic impact on cancer patients. An increasing body of research from institutions such as Harvard University and Duke University shows that patients who have a strong spiritual sense and pray regularly are able to better cope with disease.
“Engaging and preparing faith communities to support and care for persons with cancer is a critical boost that many religious groups need in order to become the true caring communities they were designed to be,” explained Dr. Harold Koenig, psychologist and co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University. “Caring for and reaching out to those with cancer benefits not only the person with cancer but especially those who are giving that support – it contributes to their sense of well-being, may even impact their own health, and certainly helps them to grow spiritually.”
For more information on CTCA’s “Our Journey of Hope” and how your church might benefit from the program, call 1-888-399-8126 or visit www.ourjourneyofhope.com.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc. (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals focusing on complex and advanced stage cancer. CTCA offers a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment and serves patients from all 50 states at facilities located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to www.cancercenter.com.