Partners in Healing: Bridging Pastoral Care and Public Health Through Practical and Pastoral Theology

Citation: 
Couture, Pamela D. “Partners in Healing: Bridging Pastoral Care and Public Health Through Practical and Pastoral Theology.” Journal of Pastoral Theology 5(Summer 1995):65-80.
Abstract: 

Pamela Couture’s article, “Partners in Healing,” contends for intentional partnerships between local congregations and public health departments that focus on holistic and preventative care for low income and rural population segments. She advocates building upon common values of mercy and compassion between pastoral care and public health and enlarging the traditions associated with pastoral theology to include a practical theological approach of collaboration. Both pastoral care and public health are reevaluating the “medical model” of diagnosis, treatment and cure in order to address also the social and cultural contexts of health care. Couture calls on pastors to educate the public health field about the role of pastoral care and counseling, even as pastoral theology assists in interpreting religious traditions concerning public and private responsibility for health. <p> Couture follows the general outline of Don Browning’s Fundamental Practical Theology to offer a model of collaboration between pastoral care and public health outlined in four distinct moments: descriptive theology; theological and ethical reflection and decision making; theological interpretation and reinterpretation; and transformed theological and ethical practices. Findings gleaned for the collaboration of ministry and public health include: (1) systems of ministry and public health are organic; liaisons must be made with each part; (2) systems of ministry and public health carry on articulated religious and civil religious traditions; (3) person-to-person, direct service has the potential for establishing trust between ministry and public health; and (4) small, simple projects do matter.

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