Inspiring hope: helping churches to care for the sick is designed to be a practical resource. It is laid out in an accessible format, ideal for group discussion and individual study. It contains five key sections:
- Palliative care and the church – What is palliative care and what is the role of the church?
- Inspiration – Reflection, teaching and motivation for involvement.
- Stories to make us think – Examples of what the church is already doing.
- Resources for action – Tools to help you apply what you’ve learned.
- References, contacts and tools – Signposts to further reading and useful contacts.
The handbook is published by EMMS International, a charity which has its roots in Scotland but operates internationally. Its mission is “to work in partnership with communities in the poorest parts of the world to transform their lives, improving life chances through effective and sustainable health and education and by sharing [their] Christian faith in words and actions.”
James M. Wells, chief executive of EMMS International, says in the forward to the book: “Churches are uniquely placed to take a lead on the provision of palliative care. They have a ready-made network for local and national advocacy, for challenging taboos about death and dying, and providing high quality home-based or clinic-based care.”
James and author Dr Jane Bates, who has worked as a medical doctor in South Africa and Malawi over the last fifteen years, launched the book yesterday at the annual conference of the African Palliative Care Association. Copies are also being distributed to all conference delegates.
Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Capetown, said: “This handbook is a wonderful guide to how we can communicate Christ’s tender compassion and care, which circumstances cannot diminish, to those who are coming to the end of their lives.
“In clear, tangible, down-to-earth, ways, it assists church communities, leaders and members to understand more about palliative care, and how we can best contribute. It helps us review what we are currently doing and provides resources so that we may be more effectively engaged.”