Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Religion Communicators Council Hears About Health, Disaster and Faith

The Religion Communicators Council meets each month to hear about a topic of interest. In October, the Nashville Chapter heard from the Tennessee Department of Health on faith and disaster preparedness.

Faith is not always front and center in today’s world. It is a mission of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) to promote the good news of people of faith through communications work. The Nashville chapter does this by providing meetings once a month to learn about new ways to improve religious communications or hear about topics of interest. For the October meeting, members heard from Dr. Michele Gourley, Director of Faith-Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Health as well as two of her staff who spoke to disaster preparedness.

This wasn’t the first time Dr. Gourley has reached out to the RCC. In 2012, she came as a special guest to talk about her position and what it means to faith groups in the state. Her position had just been re-introduced at that time.   

“We are excited that Dr. Gourley was able to speak with us again,” says Rev. Brian Fesler, President of the Nashville RCC chapter and pastor of the Church of Scientology, “She brings faith and health together, and hearing from her is always a treat.”

Prior to serving in this role, Dr. Gourley worked for the state of Tennessee in the Division of Health Planning, where she helped write and oversee the 2010 and 2011 State Health Plans. She obtained her medical degree and Masters of Public Health degree from East Tennessee State University with an emphasis on rural primary care and community health.  She has also completed studies in wellness coaching, trauma and resilience and health impact assessments.

Dr. Gourley has spent the majority of her life as a part of faith communities in Middle and East Tennessee, has served as part of faith-based medical and public health projects in Central America and has participated in ecumenical faith communities in the Middle East and Europe.  In 2010, she was selected as a participant in Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation’s Summer Institute, where she focused on the role of food as it pertains to faith and reconciliation.

During the meeting, Dr. Gourley discussed the importance of being prepared in case of a disease epidemic in the community, such as Ebola, as well as having Points of Dispensing Clinics (PODs) set up well in advance so communities have a location to turn to in case of an outbreak of this nature. She encouraged congregations to set these up and also to visit the state department of health website to learn more.  

For more information about the RCC or their next meeting, visit www.religioncommunicators.org.

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