After spending Monday celebrating the Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna, the Catholic namesake to the Garden City hospital, the LiveWell Finney County Health Coalition turned the campus into a space to learn about other denominations and religions and how they intersect with healthcare.

The four-day, lunchtime lecture series, Lunch and Learn, will continue through Friday, from noon to 1 p.m. in classroom B at St. Catherine Hospital. It's a chance, said event organizer and LiveWell Community Health Director Beth Koksal, for staff and locals to learn about religions and cultures they wanted to know more about.

“We wanted to make sure that we weren’t just saying ‘Everybody must be Catholic. We’re a Catholic hospital and that’s all we’re going to talk about,’” Koksal said about Monday’s Feast. “Because we want to make sure that we treat everyone here, because this is our hospital and our community.”

On Monday, Denton Koehn of the Church of God of Christ just outside of Ulysses came to speak about the Mennonite faith, sparking audience questions about Mennonite education and fundamental beliefs, Koksal said. She said Koehn’s presentation focused on the New Testament of the Bible, on compassion and spirituality.

On Thursday, Albert Kyaw will discuss religions often practiced in the local Burmese community, including Buddhism and Islam. The day after, Michael Anderson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Garden City and St. Catherine employees Kamron Watson and Matt Steel will discuss Mormonism.

So far, Koksal said, the presentations have shown how people of different faiths and backgrounds are more alike than different. And ideally, it would could connect the hospital and its staff to the people they treat.

“Mostly, we just wanted to know some small basics of that faith and then how we at St. Catherine could best care for members of that faith when they were here,” Koksal said.

Tuesday, Eric Schadle, vice president of mission and ministry for Centura Health in the greater Denver area, came to the hospital to speak about the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a protestant Christian denomination that was founded in the mid-1800s.

Several Centura hospitals are Adventist, Koksal said, and the seminar was a chance, among other things, for staff to learn about some of St. Catherine’s frequent collaborators and partners.

Schadle walked through the history of the denomination, including the writings and influence of one of its founders, Ellen G. White, who penned the church’s eight laws of health: fresh air, sunshine, temperance, rest, exercise, water, nutrition and trust in God.

The church emphasizes “whole person care,” including prevention measures and strict diets, he said. About 50 percent of Adventists are vegetarian, he said.

The Adventist and Catholic churches differ, but with several exceptions. Adventist hospitals have “no problem” with sterilization procedures, like vasectomies, and they perform abortions in certain, rare circumstances. Otherwise, the organizations run their hospitals in similar ways, Schadle said. They emphasize mission work. They reach out to their communities. In healthcare, there’s overlap and compromise between the two churches, and they serve similar missions, he said.

“We interpret the Bible a little differently, but not around how you treat people and around healthcare,” Schadle said in a separate interview.

If community members want St. Catherine to host a speaker for a religion not covered this week, Koksal encouraged them to call the hospital.

“We would be happy to set up more of these. This is something we feel is important as a community, and we’re open to more discussions,” Koksal said. “It will not be our last Lunch and Learn.”


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