WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. survey of churches found 70 percent seek to minister to their communities by providing healthcare services.
The Congregational Health Ministry Survey, conducted by the National Council of Churches USA, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also found 65 percent are providing health education and 35 percent are advocating on behalf of healthcare public policy issues.
The sample of 6,037 responding congregations reported an average of 13.07 health-related activities per congregation. Services range from a parish nurse or health minister to providing information on the prevention of disease. Fifty-one percent offer direct financial support to individuals needing help paying medical bills.
"With our national healthcare system cracked and breaking, this survey shows that churches across the country are doing their best to fill the gaps," Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, of the Robert Wood Foundation, said in a statement.
"Faith communities have a long and important tradition of providing health services to the most vulnerable in our nation."