Mind and spirit conference planned for January 26, 27
“Mind and Spirit: A Celebration of Faith and Learning,” an annual event co-sponsored by the Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists and Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, will be held on the weekend of January 26 and 27, according to Bernard Taylor, PhD, scholar in residence at the University Church, and coordinator of the weekend events.
The guest speaker for Friday evening and Sabbath afternoon will be David R. Williams, PhD, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman professor of public health at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
During his Friday evening presentation, Dr. Williams will speak on the religion–health connection.
Dr. Williams, who is also a professor of sociology at Harvard University, joined the faculty at Harvard in 2006 following a four-year faculty appointment as professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
A graduate of the University of the Southern Caribbean, Trinidad, in 1976, Dr. Williams received a master’s degree from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a master of public health degree in health education from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in 1986. He earned his doctor of philosophy degree in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1986. His wrote his dissertation on Socioeconomic Differentials in Health: The Role of Psychosocial Factors.
Dr. Williams’ presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening, January 26, in the sanctuary of the University Church. A follow-up presentation will be made the following day at 3:00 p.m. in the church sanctuary, where he will discuss moderate alcohol use and health.
On Sabbath morning, January 27, Allan R. Handysides, MBChB, director of the health ministries department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, will be the guest speaker at the 8:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. church services. He will speak on the relationship of the religion–health connection.
A special Sabbath school service will be held beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the University Church.
Making presentations will be James W. Walters, PhD, professor of religion, Faculty of Religion; Elizabeth Johnston Taylor, PhD, associate professor of nursing, School of Nursing; and Siroj Sorajjakool, PhD, professor of religion, Faculty of Religion.
Dr. Walters will be talking about the grant from the National Institutes of Health institute of aging that Loma Linda received last fall. During his presentation, Dr. Walters will present information on the 10,000-participant study that focuses on broad parameters of religion including prayer, the concept of God, Sabbath rest, and religious involvement. Dr. Walters is the co-principal investigator on this study.
“It has been documented that religious people tend to have better health outcomes,” Dr. Walters says, “but exactly what components of the religious life that are positive or negative has not been explored in depth. And that is what we are doing.”
Dr. Johnston Taylor will make a presentation on “Myths About Spiritual Care.” She will discuss misconceptions about the nature of spiritual care and how these misconceptions can prevent ethical spiritual caregiving.
“Several studies have identified what clinicians view as the barriers to spiritual care,” Dr. Johnston Taylor says. “These include a lack of time, lack of training and ability, confusion regarding spiritual care and proselytization, and a view that spiritual care is not within the role of a health care professional.” Realistic rebuttals to these and other misconceptions will be introduced during Dr. Johnston Taylor’s presentation.
Dr. Sorajjakool will discuss how depressed individuals often feel disconnected spiritually.
“In seeking an understanding of this sense of disconnection, William James’ description of the twice born offers an insight into this experience,” Dr. Sorajjakool explains.
“According to Dr. James, once born refers to those whose natural disposition seems to flow naturally with the public norm. The twice born, on the other hand, experiences a high level of self-consciousness and the awareness that who they are—the way they think, feel, apprehend, and their natural inclination—cause them to experience the world very differently.”
The Sabbath morning presentations will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Carla Gober, PhD, director of the Center for Spiritual Life & Wholeness at Loma Linda University.
A panel discussion moderated by Gerald R. Winslow, PhD, vice president for spiritual life and wholeness, Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, will follow the Sabbath afternoon presentation.
By Richard W. Weismeyer