Photo taken from SAMH Facebook page: SAMH Chaplains with Dr Loh Yik Hin (CEO of SAMH), Archdeacon Wong Tak Meng and nursing personnel.
Dr Margaret Loh (my Mum-in-law), served as the first medical director of St Andrew's Community Hospital (SACH) when it launched at Elliot Road in 1992. A new name had to be coined for this unique hospital and that was when the term "Community Hospital" was first used. Today, our nation has seven Community Hospitals and this term has become common.
The health care, healing and recovery of patients need to be experienced in-community. This is the driving value behind these hospitals. This idea of community can also be extended to the patient's family or friends, especially when he or she is discharged. This is also one reason why parish communities have been paired with our hospitals. Last week, I shared about the need for us to be engaged with St Andrew's Autism Center (SAC) and St Andrew's Autism Home. The latter will need our special attention.
In a sense, the term helps our medical centers to return to our traditional healing-in-community roots. In professionalising our medical services - where care is offered by trained specialists - we risk losing some of these traditional values. And so, new terms are coined, almost serving to restore a long lost memory of what we once were.
Likewise, the same can be said about local churches. In urban cities, professionalising our spiritual services also became unavoidable as we sought for excellence. And so we have staff and pastors serving in each area of administration and ministry. Some churches, especially larger ones, become more "corporate" in their culture. "Best practices", often borrowed from profit-driven commercial companies are implemented. Staff and lay leaders now have KPIs to work at, evaluation processes, the need for cost-justification and so on.
The downside of all these values are obvious: the loss of community. And if we believe that God also speaks through His Body, there is the additional pitfall of running the church "topdown". Just that unfortunately, it is not God but human leaders who are making the decisions. Couple that with the lessening of corporate prayer life and a posture of seeking for the Lord's guidance as a community, the church can easily lose her soul and first love. The warnings to the seven churches in Revelations quickly come to mind.
For churches, I am not sure adding the term "community" will necessary be a game-changer. This term is being bandied around as a reason to get members back to onsite Services.
I will say we need to use this term to get the church back to her biblical roots.