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Therapist sees community as key to health

Dr. Margaret Kornfeld will explain her philosophy on the role of faith in the search for good health and wholeness.

Dr. Margaret Kornfeld, a New York psychotherapist, will be here next week to promote communities working together to sustain and support healthy lifestyles.

She will share her message in a presentation titled "Healing as Wholeness and Community" on Friday at Church of the Isles in Indian Rocks Beach. She will conduct a workshop on Feb. 12 for professionals in health-related vocations.

"Community's role in healing _ it's very old and very new, just like holistic thinking about health," said Kornfeld, vice president of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. "I feel that community is really a medicine that our society needs."

Kornfeld's visit is at the request of Dr. Rodney Snedeker, an assistant minister and pastoral counselor at Church of the Isles, and will inaugurate a series of annual lectures and workshops on the role of faith in the search for health and wholeness.

No longer do only holistic doctors believe that health comes from mind, body and soul working in harmony. A 1996 survey of the American Academy of Family Physicians showed 99 percent of doctors think there is an important relationship between body and spirit.

So does Kornfeld. But she takes it a step further.

There also must be a relationship among communities, said Kornfeld, an ordained Baptist minister. She has written a book on the importance of communities _ religious, medical, educational and social _ working together to create a healthy environment.

Called Cultivating Wholeness: A Guide to Care and Counseling in Faith Communities, the book explores the roles different segments of society play in helping the larger community achieve wholeness.

"It's a book about how communities can make us sick or well," Kornfeld said. "It's how faith communities can become healthy, healing places."

Kornfeld believes in a network of healing _ multiple sources of healing that include not only a doctor or counselor, but a family member, a pastor or the man who works at the local deli.

At Church of the Isles, Kornfeld will highlight ways in which the congregation already is supporting the community. She also will give tips on how medical organizations can tap into resources of churches, synagogues and other places of worship.

Kornfeld cited these examples in communities across the country:

+ Many congregations now have parish nurses. Some are staff members of the church and others are volunteers. Duties include giving checkups to homebound parishioners and organizing doctor visits.

+ A pastoral counseling group in Pittsburgh has implemented a program in which pregnancy counseling groups have established a relationship with beauty shop operators working in an impoverished area to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.

+ Some churches are sponsoring runs and walks to raise money for diabetes and other diseases.

"These are very practical ways in which congregations are helping people live healthier lives," Kornfeld said.

Snedeker said the church hopes to be of service to the community by offering the lecture and workshop.

"We want to try and highlight this issue for people within the church and the community so they can begin to appreciate the role of faith in the healing process," he said. "Biblically, I suppose it goes back to loving God with your whole mind, heart and soul in strength."

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