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Mary Johnston Hospital

Featured Mary Johnston Hospital

Heritage landmarks of The United Methodist Church are buildings, locations, or structures that are specifically related to significant events, . . .  in the overall history of The United Methodist Church. [The Book of Discipline, paragraph 1712]

The Mary Johnston Hospital in Manilla, Philippines, is another of our United Methodist Heritage Landmarks.

It is the only United Methodist hospital in the whole Philippines and has been serving for 110+ years.   The establishment of the hospital, “Dispensaria Betania (Bethany Clinic),” was the work of Dr. Rebecca Parish, a missionary doctor from Indiana, sent by the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society (WMFS) of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1906.  The WFMS is one of the predecessor institutions to the present day United Methodist Women. The clinic was originally located in a room offered by the principal of the Bible school. The clinic had Dr. Parish, as the doctor, and along with her were three young Filipinas loaned from the Bible School to assist her.  For equipment, they had a desk, a chair, an enameled bowl, and a pitcher witth most of the enamel off.  As crude as the clinc was, it overflowed with patients every day.   The hospital transfered to its current site in 1908.  At the solicitation of the secretary of one of the Branches of the WMFS Mr. Daniel Johnston gave over twelve thousands dollars to build the first hospital building.


Refreshing our memory that Heritage Landmarks remind us of  a particular event  in our United Methodist history as well as represent some over all aspect of our history we see that Mary Johnston Hospital speaks to three elements of our past.  The first reminds us of the impact and importance of women within the Metodist mission enterprises;  resourceful and passionate place in the Methodist Church's concern for the least, last and lost both in the US and across the globe.  They were involved in creating healing and safe spaces for all.  The second is that it is a symbol - replicated in cities and communities around the world - that the Wesleyan model of evangelism speaks to the entire person in all walks of life.  Wesley, while remembered as a preacher and leader of the Methodist renewal movement, also provided  small loans to people and  an apothecary, or drug store, for his followers.  He wrote a small booklet that was in print for decades filled with home remedies. While perhaps not the best medical advice today, it was still advice and it was provided to those who needed it most.    Wesley taught us that real evangelism cares for the heart, the soul and the body.  And in this particular case it was the independent work of Methodist women that carried this into action.  United Methodism has the distinct heritage that women, on their own, were united for mission.  They planned their own work and they raised the own funds and carried out their plans. 

This concern was carried into action whereever the Methodists went.  They created hospitals, they created community welfare centers, they created clinics.  And all of this in addition to the churches, schools and religious institutions they created.  So this landmark reminds of the broad based concern for people that is part of our United Methodist culture.

And finally, this landmark also reminds us that we share that good news.  Whether it is called mission, or evangelism, or ministry,  the good news touching mind soul and body is something to share to all.  The challenge is to make sure the message has impact.  In the case of the Mary Johnston Hospital it is credited with drastically reducing infant mortality with its advise on proper nutrition, care and sanitation.  We look for the need and respond with ministry.

See the entire list of Heritage Landmarks.