‘Enlarge the site’
PHEWA conference looks to expand PC(USA)’s social outreach ministries
June 2, 2009
The Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) — a voluntary membership organization encompassing 10 social welfare networks — is hosting its biennial conference as part of the Big Tent event June 11-13 in Atlanta. In addition to plenary activities and celebrations, each of PHEWA’s 10 networks will hold meetings.
Participants in the PHEWA conference can expect to learn about how their congregations can be involved in ministry, justice and biblical initiatives. The conference will address a wide range of issues, including disabilities, mental illness, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, substance abuse, immigration, child welfare and health disparities.
Keeping in mind Isaiah 54:2, which states “Enlarge the site of your tent ….” PHEWA asks participants to consider ways they can expand tents to those who stand on the outside, waiting for hospitality.
“We hope we will get some folks that don’t know us,” said Nancy Troy, associate for Social Welfare Organizations, of the group’s participation in the Big Tent event. “It’s kind of a new and exciting thing.”
For past conferences, PHEWA has put great emphasis on its meeting locations, searching for places where attendees could go out and engage justice issues and causes, Troy said. The decision to join with Big Tent was a result of wanting to show PHEWA’s connection to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a whole.
PHEWA has several events planned for the conference, kicking things off with a welcome gathering June 11. That event will also include the presentation of the Rodney T. Martin Award to the Rev. Phil Tom, a longtime community activist who is currently associate for small church and community ministry in the Evangelism and Church Growth program area of the General Assembly Council (GAC).
On June 12, participants can attend box lunch and discussion sessions centered on parish nursing or single payer/universal health. That afternoon, PHEWA is hosting off-site seminars at the AIDS Quilt/NAMES Project and Interdenominational Theological Center, Grady Health System and the Initiative for Affordable Housing.
The evening of June 12 will feature the John Park Lee Award Dinner, which will honor the Rev. Johnnie Monroe, a veteran pastor, social justice advocate, community leader, teacher and mentor.
June 13 will include PHEWA workshops in the early afternoon, followed by the group’s biennial business meeting. That meeting will consist of a presentation by Troy and will provide the opportunity for questions and answers about recent changes in PHEWA. Troy’s position was eliminated in the most recent round of GAC budget cuts.
Registration materials and more information about Big Tent is available online. Hotel reservations must be made separately.