Wake Forest Baptist Names Vice President of Faith and Health Ministries

March 12, 2012

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - March 12, 2012 -Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has appointed the Rev. Dr. Gary R. Gunderson vice president of faith and health ministries, effective July 1.

Gunderson, a 1973 graduate of Wake Forest University, is currently senior vice president for faith and health at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn., and director of its Center of Excellence in Faith and Health.

 "Gary's work, particularly his ability to understand and meet the needs of patients in the community, has been recognized nationally and internationally," said John D. McConnell, M.D., chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist. "His model, which brings together patient need with services within the community, coincides with Wake Forest Baptist's mission to provide a full range of caring and healing to those that we serve. Gary's natural ability to engage patients and community partners offers a new way of thinking about what it is to provide health care."

As head of the Division of Faith and Health Ministries at Wake Forest Baptist, Gunderson will oversee the division's four departments (CareNet Counseling, the Department of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education, the Center for Congregational Health and the Department of Church and Community Relations) that provide spiritual care services to patients, families and medical center employees as well as manage marketing and public relations services to more than 4,200 Baptist congregations.

Gunderson's care model in Memphis extended broadly into the full range of faith traditions and he believes the opportunity at Wake Forest Baptist is substantial. The academic strengths of the Wake Forest School of Divinity and the Division of Public Health with the leading-edge clinical strengths of the system can be aligned with the rich diversity of faith in the state of North Carolina to make a profound and lasting difference to the health of the whole community.

In addition to his bachelor's degree from Wake Forest, Gunderson holds a master of divinity from Emory University in Atlanta, a doctor of ministry from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and an honorary doctor of divinity from the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Gunderson is an assistant professor at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and a visiting professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Formerly director of the Interfaith Health Program at The Carter Center in Atlanta and senior consultant in its Africa Governance Program, he is co-author of Religion and the Health of the Public, published this month by Palgrave/McMillian, and the author or co-author of three other books and numerous scholarly articles.

Media Relations

Paula Faria: pfaria@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-1279

Megan Lee: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587