Believe it or not but Mennonites are….wait for it….actually….get ready……leading the way and boldly innovative.
For a bunch of people who have historically simply kept to themselves and haven’t really worried about engaging the hot topics of the day, when it comes to health care, Mennonites are actually leading by example. I’ve recently come across two concrete examples of this.
Example 1 – The Corinthian Plan
As a pastor in the Mennonite church who has had conference provided health insurance, I can vouch for the fact that it has not been exactly stellar in the past. Part of this is due to the fact that the job of “Pastor” is a sedentary, high stress job that has a quickly aging population. Translation: we’re old, fat and have high blood pressure. Not exactly an easy group to insure.
With the new plan, there isn’t necessarily a profound change in the kind of coverage that the insured pastors are getting. What is profoundly new and important is that within the insurance dues is contained a plan for extending coverage to pastors who are working in low income churches. The Mennonite church actually does have a lot of churches that are growing and who are in need of good pastoral leadership but whose members are simply not in financial situations to provide for the high costs of health care for their pastor. The goal of the Corinthian Plan is to close this gap and make it possible for pastors to take those jobs.
And we’re getting some larger attention. Christian Century even wrote a story on us. Click Here for the story.
Example 2 – Maple City Health Clinic
As someone on the Blog Young Anabaptist Radicals, wrote, ” The award for Anabaptist Health Clinic of the year goes to them.” Maple City Health Clinic is a community clinic in Goshen, In. that has been intentional about meeting the needs of it’s relatively low income and highly hispanic neighborhood. They’ve done all kinds of innovative things for years, like having community members on the board and conducting all business and meetings in both English and Spanish. They’ve also worked to lower the massive income gap between doctors and employees in some astounding ways.
But here’s the real kicker. They have a sliding scale of billing for their patients. The base is something like $10 for an office visit. In the tanking economy, it appears that many people can’t even come up with that. So they set up a plan where their patients can get $10 toward medical care at the clinic for every hour that they volunteer at another non-profit agency in the area. How’s that for innovative!
Again, they got national attention. Check out the NPR story here.
Moral of the story
When many people here these kinds of stories there is a temptation that many of us have. It’s really easy to sit back and think, “hey, they’re Mennonite, I’m Mennonite, we did something really cool. Now I can feel better about not doing anything where I’m living.” It’s easy to take the credit for what MCUSA or Maple City Health Clinic are doing, as if we were somehow involved.
Yes it is good to be happy that other people who we’re affiliated with are doing cutting edge things. The ultimate reaction that we need to have is not satisfaction but rather inspiration. As Christians, we’re supposed to be able to use our imaginations to envision new ways for God’s kingdom of wholeness and reconciliation to happen. My hope is that these stories provide concrete examples of where that vision has come to bear fruit.