Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At the Inaugural session of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference, we presented a transformative opportunity for ministry that will have a growing impact in the years to come. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we know healing is one of the foundations of our faith. The call to discipleship is to preach, to teach, and to heal. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to find a way to be engaged in the ministry of healing. If we do not, we have ignored a third of the Gospel.
In a bold move, Meharry Medical School in Nashville has partnered with Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis, The University of Memphis, and Church Health to establish a Memphis campus. The goal is to identify, mentor, and train students who might grow up in poverty but who can become physicians to serve both the community where they grow up and all of America. Such a pipeline plan is ambitious with many places where “leakage” occurs. We believe the United Methodist Church following the example of our founder, John Wesley, who promoted health education and healing as part of his ministry, can stop the “leakage.”
The Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference has an opportunity to play a leading role in the creation of a Memphis Campus for Meharry Medical School—the only historically black United Methodist-related medical school in the US. We hope that you and your congregation will support this work in a meaningful, thoughtful, and financial way.
There are 168 allopathic medical schools in America. There are 4 historically black medical schools with only one affiliated with a church, and that is Meharry. In 1876, Meharry was founded as the first medical school for African Americans in the south and has always been affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Its importance today is greater than ever before. Only 5% of all physicians identify as African American. Meharry’s role in raising children of color up to be doctors is critical and they take their affiliation with the Church seriously. The opportunity to create a Memphis campus with the support of the United Methodist Church gives us a chance to follow the call of the gospel to heal the sick, while also demonstrating support for promising young leaders.
We are asking you to commit yourself and your congregation to the task of making the Memphis Campus of Meharry strong and vibrant. The role of the Church will be three-fold: 1) to help identify potential students and to connect with and mentor them, thus plugging the points of “leakage” so that children with potential may become physicians; 2) to promote Meharry at every opportunity across our connection to enhance the role of the church in the training of physicians of color, and 3) to make a financial commitment that will assist in making Meharry in Memphis a success.
Statistics indicate that students who grow up in poverty and successfully navigate college and Meharry Medical school, often begin their careers with a financial debt approaching $400,000. There are many financial resources needed to make the Memphis Campus a success. We are asking you to make a financial commitment to this powerful endeavor. You can make your commitment by giving online to “Meharry” at https://www.shelbygiving.com/app/giving/twkumc or by sending a check made out to Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference (Memo Line: Meharry Offering). Please mail checks to TWKUMC, PO 440132, Nashville, 37244-0132.
We make this request trusting in the belief that one day we will look into the face of God with the assurance that we did our best to provide a ministry of healing. We invite you to journey with us.
With hope for healing,
Bishop Bill McAlilly; Dr. Michael Ugwueke; Dr. James Hildreth; Dr. Scott Morris