Health Justice

Better Health, Better Lives: Health Justice Team

Advocating, educating and promoting a healthful life for all God’s people!

The Health Justice Committee participates in and hosts several fun, helpful and educational activities and events. We welcome any new members who wish to join our committee – no healthcare experience is required (just a desire to help others!)

We also welcome any questions, ideas or suggestions for future activities!  Contact group leaders Carol Knolle-Faulkner ( or Pam Edwards ( 

Health Justice Legislation Updates

In 2023, Nebraska lawmakers approved LB753 which creates dollar-for-dollar tax credits totaling up to $100 million for donations by individuals and businesses to organizations granting private school scholarships. In response, parents, educators, and citizens from every sector passed petitions, stood on corners, and rallied behind Support Our Schools to gather signatures bringing this to the Nebraska voters. Their hard work and sacrifice reaped rewards when Secretary of State Bob Evnen announced the repeal vote would be on the ballot in November.

Senator Linehan has now introduced LB1402 to nullify citizens’ voices in our government. Her new legislation will provide $25 million dollars in grants to scholarship funds in private schools to pay individuals who have children in private schools. These are public tax dollars which are being diverted from public school education districts which serve all students in the state. This harms all students and teachers, most particularly harmful to low-income and special needs services. This is yet another attempt to silence the voices of thousands who signed a petition to have their government represent the people. LB1402 has advanced out of committee and is before the Legislature.

The United Methodist Church believes that every person has the right to education. “In society, this function can best be fulfilled through public policies that ensure access for all persons to free public elementary and secondary schools.” Public schools struggle to provide the best possible opportunities to all students due to financial limitations and disparities. These attempts to divert funding away from public schools are not in keeping with our values.

The Saint Paul UMC Health Justice Committee and Rev. Jane Florence urge you to contact your legislature imploring the defeat of LB1402.  Find your Nebraska Unicameral Senator here and email them:

LB626 — The so-called “Heartbeat Bill” was introduced by Senator Joni Albrecht.  This bill bans all abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, and provides for vaguely-worded exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency of the mother.  This bill outlines a plan to remove from practice (i.e. take away medical licenses) of medical professionals who perform abortions outside the confusing guidelines. The bill was debated by the Health and Human Services (HHS) committee on February 1, 2023.  Numerous doctors have expressed grave concerns that this bill is poorly worded, cannot possibly account for every medical contingency, and will result in increased suffering and death for pregnant females.  Other valid concerns of medical professionals include the significant likelihood that doctors will leave the state if this bill is enacted.  Nebraska already has a shortage of medical professionals, and this bill will almost certainly accelerate that current deficiency. The bill is expected to advance out of committee and be debated on the floor of the Unicameral within the next few weeks.
LB606 — The “Nebraska Pregnancy Health Act” will provide for tax credits and funding for “fake” pregnancy clinics which provide counseling to pregnant women to discourage them from seeking abortions or other reproductive services not in line with certain religious beliefs. This bill was also introduced by Senator Joni Albrecht and assigned to the HHS committee.  No committee date has been set for debate.
LR18CA — This constitutional amendment was introduced by Senator Megan Hunt.  It provides for a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom, and has been assigned to the HHS committee.  A pending motion to refer it to the judiciary committee has not yet been voted upon.
LR19CA  —  This constitutional amendment was introduced by Senator Megan Hunt.  It goes further than LR18CA.  It provides both for a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom and prohibits the state from prosecution.  It states it will “grant reproductive rights to every state individual and prevent prosecution of anyone due to real or perceived pregnancy outcomes.”  This proposal has also been assigned to the HHS committee, and likewise has a pending motion to refer it to the judiciary committee.
Are you concerned about the future of Reproductive Rights in Nebraska?  Here are ways to get involved:
1)  Write to your senator.   Planned Parenthood is specifically asking for volunteers to write postcards to all Senators in opposition to LB626, and will provide you with packets of postcards and pay for the postage.  Contact if you are interested in this opportunity.  
         Another option is to email/write any Senator on your own.  Here’s a list of the current 2023 Unicameral Senators:
2)  Testify/attend Unicameral session when LB626 is held.  Check back periodically on this website for updates.  
3)  Talk to members of the Health Justice Committee.  We can provide more information or answer questions:,, 

Healthy Climate, Healthy You

Saint Paul UMC’s Climate Justice and Health Justice teams worked together to welcome experts from around the community to speak on climate and personal health. The series featured three expert speakers and a plant-based fellowship meal during the last session. 

January 21 – “A Plant-based Diet and Our Bodies” by Dana Norris, MS, RD, CSSD
Dana is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Eating a plant-based diet, generally meaning no animal products, has many benefits for our health including high dietary fiber, micro-nutrients, and anti-inflammatory effects. This diet works best when you use plant based protein sources and vitamin-mineral sources, incorporate a variety of colorful foods for different nutrients, and utilize different carbohydrates.

January 28 – “Regenerative Agriculture” by Mike Boehm
Mike is the UNL Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource. Regenerative agriculture is a philosophy that encourages minimizing soil disturbance, plants in the ground year round, diversifying crops, precision application, and integrating livestock. Access Mike’s presentation here.

February 4 – “A Plant-based Diet and Our Planet” by Tim Rinne
Tim, along with his wife Kay Walter, have spent well over a decade developing urban gardens called Hawley Hamlet. They aim to expand Lincoln’s local food production, providing easier access to fresh produce for everyone — especially those living in low-income areas — and creating a housing and urban gardening model for Lincoln to follow. Local food tastes better, is healthier, boosts our local economy AND increases food security. Access Tim’s presentation here.

Health Justice Ministries

Eight Sundays per year Saint Paul UMC prepares and serves a meal at Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach for individuals with food insecurity. Roger Clinard leads all aspects of this ministry including planning, grocery shopping, volunteer coordination, and cooking and serving meals. 

Saint Paul UMC sponsors an Afghan refugee family who recently moved to the US, and the Health Justice Committee coordinates this mission.  Tasks include setting up housing, donating furnishings and supplies, assisting in the transition to the community, providing transportation to appointments and emotional support.   Interested in commenting on and/or serving this important mission?  Contact Ann Cerveny (

The Health Justice Committee partners with Visionary Youth to assist with worthy community events including back-to-school haircuts and backpack give aways, Thanksgiving meal, shoe
and coat giveaways, and Christmas toy giveaways.  If you are interested in volunteering for this event, contact Kathryn Borman (

Twice yearly (the first Sunday in May and November), the Health Justice Committee organizes an American Red Cross Blood Drive to address the constant need for human blood donations. Contact Patty Bohart ( to comment and/or volunteer to help with the planning of this biannual event. 

In the fall of 2021, the Health Justice committee (in partnership with Bryan Health) provided an educational series on events related to health, nutrition and health justice.  Interested in helping organize a health educational, cooking, nutrition or other event?  Contact Pam Edwards (

The health justice committee follows health related issues as they work their way through the Nebraska Unicameral with the goal of educating the congregation and increasing social advocacy. Interested in commenting and/or volunteering for this task? Contact Steve Dunbar (

Clinic with a Heart is a faith-inspired organization that serves people who are uninsured and underinsured through a ministry of healthcare. Volunteers provide free healthcare services, including medical, dental, chiropractic, physical therapy, mental health, vision, hearing, dermatology, and spiritual services. Saint Paul UMC is a sponsor of Clinic with a Heart, donating both financially and in volunteer time and commitment to the organization. This is an amazing Lincoln resource which started as a grassroots effort to service individuals in the Lincoln community who are uninsured or underinsured. Saint Paul UMC Health Justice committee has been part of Clinic with a Heart for over ten years, and our recent coordinator is stepping down from his position after ten years of service.  We are seeking an individual who would like to serve as Clinic with a Heart coordinator and member of the Health Justice committee. Interested in this important mission? Join the Health Justice Team and send us a message here. 

CROP Hunger Walks are community-based walk fundraising events held in cities and towns across the United States, transforming communities around the globe through just and sustainable responses to hunger, poverty, displacement and disaster. After a CROP Hunger Walk ends, 25% of the funds raised is returned to the host community to support local hunger fighting efforts.

Click here to learn more or donate!

Many of us take our excellent health care system in Lincoln for granted. But why is there a 20-year life-expectancy difference between citizens who live in downtown Lincoln vs. citizens who live in southeast Lincoln?

That question is best answered by understanding the concepts of Equity and Equality. Equality means each person gets the same thing, whereas Equity means each person gets what they need. Think of it this way: if bicycles were assigned to citizens under a model of equality, each bicycle would be the same size, type, and shape. Under an equitable system, this one-size-fits-all approach is modified to meet the needs of the individual. Some might need a bigger bicycle, some a smaller bicycle, and some might need a bicycle with training wheels. An equitable system can bend to meet the needs of the individual, whereas an equal system asks the individual to do the bending.

The health care needs of Lincoln’s downtown residents are simply not being met. Those shortfalls may be related to lack of access to health care, preventive medicine, substance abuse treatment, mental health care treatment, nutrition, prenatal care, or a number of other areas within the healthcare system.

We have learned that a true Christian community gives to others according to their needs, not according to their value. In an ideal Christian community, equity, not equality is both the goal and the result.

Interested in learning more about the concepts of Equity vs. Equality?
Here’s a great article by UNL extension educator Emily Gratopp, MS.

So what can we do now to ease the healthcare gap that exists in Lincoln? Here’s a list of referral resources that currently exist for all individuals:

  • The 211 helpline is a free service that refers callers to non-emergency health & human
    services in Nebraska, including housing assistance, clothing, food pantries/meal sites, shelters, counseling, health clinics, employment, financial assistance, and transportation. Access this resource by:
  • MyLink is an app (and website) which provides a comprehensive list of resources available in the Lincoln community, including food, housing, health, disability, children and family, senior services, LGBTQ, refugee, and immigrant, legal, prison re-entry, financial, education, military and veteran, recreation and cultural centers and transportation. MyLink is available in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Somali, Spanish and
    Vietnamese. Download at

Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ

  • Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
  • Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
  • Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
  • Preaching justice
  • SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
  • We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.

We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church.  Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology.  They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.

  • Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group.  One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice.  We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
  • We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
  • Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
  • Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).

Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus:  racial justice, ecological justice, and health care.  Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.