Who we are
What does God require of us?
To do justice
To love kindness
To walk humbly with your God
The Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) is a community of ministries:
- Seeking and voicing God’s shalom
- Proclaiming the inclusive Gospel of justice and mercy
- Sharing in Christ’s work of compassion and love and
- Witnessing the Spirit’s prophetic activity in church and world.
Our purpose is to provide resources, peer support and networking connections for Presbyterians involved in social welfare and justice ministries. PHEWA has also worked, since its creation by General Assembly action in 1956, to make the church more responsive to the needs of those too often excluded or on the margins of the church and of society, providing those much needed voices and perspectives. PHEWA is a ministry of the Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministry, General Assembly Mission Council, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Although we are a 501(c) 3 membership organization, we serve the entire church. Meet our staff and board of directors.
PHEWA encourages the church to be responsive to the needs of the excluded and suffering by providing programmatic, organizational and technical assistance to Presbyterians working for justice. PHEWA is organized around ten mission networks:
- Presbyterians for Addiction Action (PAA)
- Presbyterian Association for Community Transformation (PACT)
- Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network (PADVN)
- Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN)
- Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO)
- Presbyterian Association of Specialized Pastoral Ministries (PASPM)
- Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN)
- Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC)
- Presbyterian Health Network (PHN)
- Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network (PSMIN)
Members of the various networks are volunteers who give thousands of hours working with individuals, congregations and middle governing bodies.
At a PHEWA Social Justice Conference, a participant said, as he surveyed the crowd, “I’ve never seen a gathering that looked more like the kingdom of God.” What he saw was a gathering where all persons were invited, accepted and honored. PHEWA is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at its most faithful!
What do we do?
- We carry out work that is mandated by the General Assembly.
- We consult with individuals, congregations and middle governing bodies to help them as they seek to bring justice to persons who are often marginalized by the church and society.
- We identify leadership with expertise for use church wide in the areas of our network ministries.
- We provide leadership development and a Leadership Development Event.
- We host a Biennial Social Justice Conference and other training events.
- We develop and/or partner in the development of resources.
- We monitor, support and advocate for ministries of justice within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
How are we structured for ministry?
A volunteer Leadership Team guides each of our 10 networks. These teams are made up of persons who share a passion for their network's ministry; they come through a variety of avenues — professionals in the ministry area, pastors, seminary or college educators, involved family members, consumers of services. They all volunteer because they want to see the church a place of welcome. Each of the networks has a link to one or more programmatic offices in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Those offices are Child Advocacy, International Health Ministries, Women's Ministries and the Small Church and Community Ministry Offices. We also partner with the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP).
From 1956 - a long history of prophetic witness
The early years
The roots of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) stretch deep into Presbyterian soil. Our beginning and heritage can be traced back to the men and women who conceived of and served in our denomination’s earliest national social welfare ministries.
When our denomination’s Committee of Mission was established by the General Assembly in 1800, most of this nation was a frontier and only New York and Philadelphia were ranked as metropolitan mission areas. Before long, the Committee of Mission spanned the continent and by 1873, California saw the beginnings of community work when the Donaldina Cameron House, a ministry to rescue young Chinese girls from slavery, was started in San Francisco.
The denomination’s early missionary approach to laborers and immigrants in crowded urban areas was the pattern for later Presbyterian Community Centers that sprang up across the country.
In those early years schools were established in remote places where public education was lacking, institutions like Witherspoon College, Menaul School, Warren Wilson and Sheldon Jackson Colleges.
Some of the earliest social welfare ministries grew from Sunday School Missions. Ministry often began with teachers on horseback and grew into parish and community services.