HUNTINGTON — With more than 300 different congregations in the Tri-State, the potential for spiritual institutions to get things done for the greater good is immense, if not immeasurable.
Sharing the information to do so, and bridging the gaps between often-siloed church families with common humanitarian goals, has been the driving purpose behind FaithHealth Appalachia — founded in 2008 as an initiative of Cabell Huntington Hospital, but now operating as an independent nonprofit.
The organization exists to integrate spiritual guidance and congregational efforts into the community’s existing systems for addressing needs in substance use disorder, homelessness, hunger and loneliness — all often intersecting to different degrees.
“It’s about how we can continue to wrap our arms around people who are struggling with those different social determinants,” said Jana Stoner, executive director of FaithHealth Appalachia. “My prayer is that churches will continue to rise up and address the most vulnerable needs of our community.”
About 80 congregations within FaithHealth Appalachia were represented at an appreciation lunch Tuesday afternoon in Huntington, keynoted by Mayor Steve Williams speaking to the city’s faith leaders. It’s a small thank-you, Stoner said, for the countless hours of good works done often in obscurity. Though the vast majorities were Christian, the local Muslim Association also attended.
“In Appalachia, faith is the center of who we are as a people,” Stoner said. “They all already offer so much hope and healing to the community, so I just can’t imagine the potential of all of them coming together to address all the different needs here.”
For more information or to be connected to FaithHealth Appalachia, call Jana Stoner at 304-544-8312.
Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter @BishopNash.