QuestionQuestion

1) Respond to the following:

The authors point out that religion has shown to assist both physical and mental health of individuals overall. First do you agree with this assertion? Why or why not? And....considering the condition of the Black community as a whole, what changes need made from a religious perspective to increase the health levels?

2) Respond to the following:

a) I agree with the authors assertion that religion has shown to assist both physical and mental health of individuals overall-according to the author on pg. 19. Regular devotional activity, such as group worship and prayer may sere to buffer the stress of daily life, and provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life and discourage both hopelessness and belief that things happen only by chance. Active participation in church offers African American churchgoers not only spiritual sustenance but access to personal and social resources that can provide help in coping during times of need, such as reduction in depressive symptoms, and cultivating healthy relationships that strengthen ties to a supportive community of like-minded people (Ellison, 1994).

Religious worship may engender positive feelings that impact upon susceptibility to, course of, or recovery from illness, private devotion and public worship both reflects and effects a range of emotional states. Prayer can be motivated by and instill feelings of gratitude, forgiveness, comfort, peace, joy, trust, ecstasy, and love. I know in my own personal life, in order to live above the stress and pressures of this world, I must have a daily prayer life and spend time with God.

The changes that need to be made in order to increase health levels in the black community is in the hands of the Pastors and leaders to address issues of health. It is the role of clergy in Black churches to identify and address mental health needs and have a church's health ministry. Clergy are consulted for a variety of psychological issues, and many need to be consistent with their ministerial and religious training (for example, comforting the bereaved, and advising those with physical illness. Numerous health promotion programs have been conducted in African American churches and in the community to reduce health problems and promote healthy living. Health beliefs play a role in health behaviors, thus contributing to health outcomes or status.

The church in the African American community can play an active role in changing health perceptions and beliefs. Spirituality plays a major role in African American culture. The church can develop a health program to help smokers quit. Health education can play an important role in bridging the gap between negative belief systems and preventive health practices. An African American church-based nutrition and exercise program is needed in many of our churches.

b) I feel that religion can assist both the physical and mental health of individual overall depending upon the source from which the help comes. If a person is relying on a clergy member that is not trained in professional counseling, his or her state of health could be in trouble. On the other hand, if the clergy member is professionally trained healing can take place. If a person is relying on Scripture for healing, he or she would need to possess the ability to search and understand the Scripture in order to see results.
Considering the condition of the Black community as a whole, clergy members need to be more educated in the field of counseling in order to better help the parishioners. Brokenness, depression, and mental illness is so prevalent that the ability to counsel is needed now more than ever. Another need is the initiation of programs within the church to assist with reading comprehension. Although education is free, the drop out, expulsion and detention rates are so high among Blacks and the likelihood of students returning to school is slim to none. There is a need to fill in the gaps that have been created to improve literacy in our communities.

c) I agree with the authors' assertion that religion assist with both physical and mental health of individuals. The research and data is very compelling. But without the research, I have experienced the healing power of fellowship within the faith community, prayer, and the practices of the Black Church have a therapeutic affect on the health of individuals. The lifestyle that is associated with religious practices (sobriety, modesty in consumption, a sense of hope) plays a role in ensuring people live a healthy life. On a personal note, my sister experienced a bout of depression after the passing of her husband. The expressions of love of the faith community, prayer, scripture, and the theme of the love of God as a comforter guided her through the depression. But because depression is a chronic condition, the continuing support of the church and religious practices helps to maintain her mental stability.

The church in the Black Community had a stronger bond and was more communal. There was a higher degree of accountability for each person in the community. The present condition of the Black community is largely a result of becoming more individualistic. Members of the Black community do not feel accountable to each other for their behaviors. Additionally, the concerns, hardships, and troubles of members of the Black community do not move the community to respond. The Black church once was the center of community life in the Black community. We must return the church to the center and re-employ many of the practices that helped to usher in this era of modest equality. Additionally, we should augment the religious practices with social practices, such as growing community gardens, hosting more communal meals, and organizing craft guilds to name a few. In a word, we must return community back to the Black Community, and re-establish the Black Church as the center of community.

3) Observation Paper

Notes from the Professor regarding the last one:
Well written observation paper. However, this first paper was NOT supposed to be on your home or present church. Please make sure that the next 2 papers address the correct context.

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Social Analysis - Jehovah’s Witnesses

For the purposes of this paper I will analyze a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses I have some familiarity with through personal and family connections. As it is known, the denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses was first formed in Pennsylvania in the 1870’s under the name of the Students of the Bible. Later, it adopted the present name.

The congregation I am analyzing is a racially mixed one. In fact, the Witnesses always make it a point that there are no racial and ethnic boundaries within their communities. About one half of the congregation is white, while the rest are African-Americans (roughly 30%), Hispanics and Asian Americans. The age distribution generally correlates with that of the surrounding population, with a slight prevalence of senior citizens. Members aged 65 years and older are approximately 20% of the congregation, while they are about 15% in the state population. Non-baptized children are not considered members, but parents bring them along to worship meetings, and about 25% of those present appear to be under the age of 18....

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