A conference at Hope College will focus on the role that churches can play in enhancing access to health care in the greater Holland area.

The conference, "Healthy Church, Healthy Community," will be held during the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center. Approximately 60 participants are anticipated, including representatives of local churches and social service agencies as well Holland Hospital.

The event is being organized by Dr. Deborah Sturtevant of the Hope faculty with sponsorship by a partnership grant awarded to the college and the Holland Hospital Foundation by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Through the grant, Sturtevant, who is a professor of sociology and social work and chairperson of the department, is conducting research and facilitating activities designed to improve community health as the final phase of a three-year effort to identify the most pressing health care needs within the community and design programs to address those needs, such as access to health care.

Sturtevant and Hope senior Monique Hoyle of Delton have surveyed area churches to determine whether or not they operate health ministry programs, and to further determine what form such programs take and what sort of health care information churches would find helpful.

The conference will feature three presentations, beginning with the keynote address "Healthy Church, Health Community" by the Rev. David Carlson, who is a retired clinical pastoral educator/chaplain with Fairview-University Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn., and co-founder and the first executive director of the Health Ministries Association. Next, Sue Lassa of Holland Hospital's Community Health Ministries Program and Jodi Gogolin, who is director of community outreach at the hospital, will present "Community Health Ministry Program Model." Sturtevant and Hoyle will subsequently present the results of their area survey.

Sturtevant has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1988, and teaches courses in social welfare, social policy and macro practice. Her research interests include nonprofit board governance, political advocacy and capacity building. She has served on several area agency Boards of Directors, including the Holland Hospital Foundation Board, Ottawa County Community Mental Health Board and Ottawa County United Way.