Are you confused about all of the acronymns involving Mennonites and health? Do you wonder why you should care about any of them? Here’s a handy guide for healthcare professionals as they sort out the similarities and differences between MHF, MHS, MHA, and MCA.
Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) was formed in 2011 to serve individual healthcare professionals. The MHF website explains more about MHF and its history rooted in two previous organizations begun in the 1940s.
Mennonite Health Services Alliance (most often referred to as MHS Alliance or simply MHS) exists to serve healthcare institutions. It was founded in 1995 as a way for hospitals, mental health centers, retirement communities, disability service providers, and other organizations begun by Mennonites but increasingly under local community control to maintain their distinctive faith connections with their founding churches. In 2013, MHS became an official agency of Mennonite Church USA. MHS also serves institutions related to Brethren in Christ and Mennonite Brethren denominations. Visit the MHS Alliance website for more information.
Mennonite Health Assembly (MHA) is not a separate organization but rather a meeting–one which is held annually in various locations around the country. MHA has its roots in an older Mennonite Health Association which drew together dozens of healthcare-related institutions with Mennonite connections. Since most of those institutions now belong to MHS Alliance, MHS Alliance has become the major planning partner of the annual Mennonite Health Assembly. Everence, as a provider of health insurance and other financial services, is another partner. MHF also is a planning partner for MHA with two representatives on the Planning Committee.
Mennonite Chaplains Association (MCA) is the other remaining partner for planning MHA. MCA holds its annual meeting at MHA. Many of its members are chaplains in institutions that are members of MHS Alliance. Chaplains are also invited to be members of MHF since they are a part of the healthcare team. Conversations are being held between MCA and MHF as to how the two organizations relate to each other.
Even though MHF has its own Annual Gathering of individual healthcare professionals, MHF members are encouraged to connect with Mennonite healthcare institutions through attendance at MHA. Some MHF members attend MHA because they work for or are on the board of an MHS-related institution. Other MHF members may attend MHA out of interest in the work of the church in healthcare ministries. MHA attendance (usually in the early spring) does not interfere with attendance at MHF’s Annual Gathering (usually in mid-June).
All of these entities have a common goal to serve Mennonite and related churches in the broad area of healthcare. Individual healthcare professionals can gain the broadest perspective on Mennonite-related healthcare ministries by joining MHF and attending MHA.