History, Mission and Organization
Conference Health Ministries Director Profile E.W. Dempsey
E. W. Dempsey, a graduate of Andrews University, taught and coached in a public school system in North Georgia for 22 years and is a former nursing home owner and administrator. He is currently the innovative Adult Health Director of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference Health Department.
Under the leadership of President Larry Evans, four initiatives were developed, one of which is total health. The initiative includes helping conference personnel and church members, as well as the community, understand and practice a healthy lifestyle. Other Departmental officers serve as Youth, and Children's Health Ministries directors. All of them also have responsibilities in other areas of work for the conference such as: prison ministries, lay evangelism, and Pathfinders. These directors are members of the conference Church Ministries Committee, which is chaired by the Church Ministries director.
Dempsey helped developed a wellness program for the conference staff. A professional health organization was used for individualized testing. The results were used for the setting of personal goals. During the ensuing months many shed pounds and lowered their blood pressures. A walking program was implemented. Using an aerobic equivalency walking system, the staff "walked" from Calhoun, Georgia, to the General Conference Session in Toronto, Canada and back home. There have been other successful "walking" destinations.
Dempsey divided the conference geographically into 13 regions, each region having a director. The Regional Director endeavors to get acquainted with the health ministries leaders in his region, encouraging them to set up health committees in their churches, and assisting them with their needs for resource and speaker ideas, and planning for specific health events in each of their churches.
These directors are members of the Health Evangelism Council, which is a subcommittee to the conference Church Ministries Committee. There are also several members at large, who are interested in health evangelism. The Council meets three times a year, usually in January, May (at camp meeting), and September. The chairperson of the Health Evangelism Council is a volunteer lay person who also serves as an "assistant" to the health department director.
The Mission of the Health Evangelism Council is to uplift Jesus in the church and community through following His steps in health ministry. The committee also plans the camp meeting health program and explores ideas for regional rallies and local health emphasis days. The method of holding the regional rallies is optional. It may be a one-day event or a weekend event. The committee also helps set annual goals for the Health Ministries director as well as discusses new resources and materials.
Some of the activities that Dempsey has developed include a five-minute "Health Watch" video issued quarterly by the Adult Health Ministries and Communication departments. It usually consists of two reports about group and/or individual activities. A copy is sent to each church.
Three times a year he and his associate send an "Exciting Health Happenings" newsletter to all pastors and church health leaders. It tells what is being done in the health arena throughout the conference and lists resources and gives suggestions intended to help the church health leaders. A monthly newsletter, written by a medical doctor, is sent to the pastor and church health leaders. This is designed for photocopying and sharing with the church members.
The Conference health department office has an extensive lending library of videos and other seminar materials for use by the Georgia-Cumberland Conference churches. A &qot;Health Ministries" section also is included in the conference website www.gccsda.com which includes a copy of the monthly newsletters, a lending library list, schedule of upcoming health events, a list of recommended speakers, resource materials, and other helpful information.
The department also gives assistance to local churches in the conducting of health fairs. In 2001 health testing was offered to Georgia-Cumberland teachers at their teachers' convention. In 2002 there will be an on-going pastoral wellness program that will include testing, education, and personal consultation.
The conference strongly urges all health workers to become certified in health evangelism. In conjunction with the North American Division Health Ministries Department, E. W. and his associates have developed a Level 1 certification program as well as inviting specialists from the Division to provide Level 2 instruction and certification. This gives the workers the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about valid health information and health ministry outreach methods. Further information about the Three-level Lifestyle Certification program is outlined in chapter 22.
- Vivean Raitz, Lay Assistant to E. W. Dempsey and Chairperson of the Health Evangelism Council