|Henderson to lead church’s Global Health Initiative|
The Rev. Gary R. Henderson (right) and Arnold Rhodes pass out a fortified beverage called mahewu to children at the Marange Mission Center near Mutare, Zimbabwe. Henderson has been named executive director of the Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church. A UMNS file photo by Linda Green.
By Linda Green*
June 5, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tenn.(UMNS)
The Rev. Gary R. Henderson says access to health care is a basic human right that should be extended to all of God's children - regardless of their income level.
Such a belief explains why Henderson is energized about his new job, beginning July 1, as executive director of the Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church.
The initiative is part of the church's long-term effort to raise awareness and understanding of global health issues. It aims to develop support and participation across the denomination for expanding health ministries, and to significantly reduce illness and death related to diseases of poverty such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Henderson views the task as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who suffer from treatable diseases and "to add my voice to the rallying cry that access to good medical care is a basic human right; it is not just the right of the wealthy."
The Rev. Gary R. Henderson
Currently pastor of East Shore United Methodist Church in Euclid, Ohio, Henderson said the opportunity opened up as he felt God prodding him by "enlarging my vision as to what it means to really be the church."
"I have felt that my world was too small and that God was urging me to do more from a global prospective," said Henderson, who has more than 20 years of pastoral experience including membership on the United Methodist Commission on Communication and the World Methodist Council.
"As I have traveled the world, I have seen first-hand some of huge health needs and issues. Rather than simply say that someone ought to do something, I have sensed that I ought to do something. I have come to believe that God is positioning the people of The United Methodist Church to really make a difference," Henderson said.
The initiative is the outcome of more than two years of conversations about health issues affecting the church and the world. United Methodist leaders have declared global health one of the denomination's four priorities to guide the church's work at the dawn of the new century. The initiative's goal is to mobilize the full resources of The United Methodist Church to effect health care changes on a global scale. Denominational partners in the effort are the church's Commission on Communication and the boards of Global Ministries, Church and Society and Higher Education and Ministry, among others.
As executive director, Henderson will work with a steering committee to develop a communications and fund-raising strategy, create partnerships to expand the reach of the church and collaborate with agencies involved in global health issues. He will work to map out the distribution of health resources across the globe, aligning people and resources to meet urgent and critical needs and to maximize their effectiveness.
“Global health relates to a healthy and whole world and takes into consideration the rights of all people to be free of disease and poverty …”
–The Rev. Gary R. Henderson
"Global health relates to a healthy and whole world and takes into consideration the rights of all people to be free of disease and poverty inasmuch as the current medical science and technologies and available resources can make it possible," he said.
"I will be challenged to help many different entities see the value of partnering and working together in order to achieve a greater need," said Henderson, noting that such partnerships mobilize many people to "make a difference for the sake of humankind everywhere."
A native of Jackson, Miss., Henderson earned a biology degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and received his Master of Divinity degree in 1986 from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta. Prior to entering ordained ministry, he was in chemical sales and reached $20 million in annual sales.
"Rev. Henderson has the kind of visionary leadership and global perspective necessary to mobilize the church and move this initiative forward," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "His communication skills, corporate world experience and passion for global health issues make him ideal for this role."
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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