Healing the vulnerable in Columbus, Ohio
By Ivy Couch*
“I’m doing the work God created me to do, being a faith and community nurse,” Jennifer Henneman says. Henneman remembers the moment she knew she was fulfilling her calling. Her 80-year-old patient turned to her and said, “You’re helping to bring me back to life.”
Restoring lives is something Church and Community Workers like Henneman do every day as a part of Global Ministries. Henneman, who has worked in the field since 2015, is the program director of the Faith Community Health Connection on the South Side of Columbus, Ohio.
The Faith Community Health Connection is a partnership between the United Methodist West Ohio Annual (regional) Conference and Ohio Health. A group of faith-based hospitals and health-care facilities founded this partnership in 1891.
Henneman encounters the devastation of poverty, high infant mortality and chronic illness. According to the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio, one in four Ohio children live below the federal poverty level. This is defined as an annual income of less than $24,563 for a four-member family. Children under age 6 are the most vulnerable, as Infant mortality can be traced to this epidemic of poverty and lack of health education.
Nutrition programs like the one Henneman helps to oversee, along with health education, make the difference in breaking this cycle. She takes a holistic approach to health care, providing health education, counseling and advocacy.
Henneman is in mission with her husband, the Rev. Gregory S. Henneman. He, too, is a Church and Community Worker through Global Ministries, coordinating the Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) Initiative of Community Development for Columbus. He emphasizes empowerment, rather than charity.
“I do believe the empowerment we embody when we declare and practice the sacred worth of every person has transformed people’s lives,” Rev. Henneman explains.
The Hennemans have two sons, Noah and Nathan.
Church and Community Workers are dedicated missionaries commissioned by Global Ministries for The United Methodist Church. They frequently serve among the poor and marginalized in communities across the U.S. Their work often encompasses the social inequalities of poverty, racial injustice and domestic violence. They take the church into the community and bring the community into the church while meeting the needs of the people with whom they serve.
When Henneman talks about her work as a nurse liaison through the ministry of the Church and Community Worker program, her humility is evident. “I know it is not my work that makes changes in the lives of individuals,” she says. “Rather, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, guiding individuals and communities into a relationship with God, each other and all of creation.”
To support the mission of The Church and Community Workers program, please consider donating to Advance #982147.
*Ivy Couch is a communications specialist for Global Ministries in Atlanta.