By Haley Miller
The Rev. Saneta Maiko, a health care chaplain and researcher, will serve as the new conference superintendent for the United Methodist Churches of Indiana North Central District starting July 1. He said he wants to bring the church and its teachings to underserved communities.
“My leadership role starting July 1 is to bring a unique kind of approach to ministry, an approach whereby we are not going to be asking people most of the time to come to the building, but we go to where they are and love them,” said Maiko. “Love them, serve them, walk with them.”
Maiko will be responsible for driving the mission and vision of the annual United Methodist Conference of Indiana for churches in the North Central District, which includes Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel, Zionsville and several nearby counties. He said he uses his background in public health to inform his approach in the church.
He said the church’s mission must focus on addressing the social determinants of health, or the conditions of the places where people live, learn, work and play and their influence on health outcomes.
“We need to step up and try to see whether we can eliminate or reduce the impact of those conditions before we can even tell them about heaven that they have never gone to,” Maiko said. “We have to show them that heaven is your neighborhood.”
Maiko said he wants to accomplish four goals: Engage the community and bring more people to the church, create more social networks within the churches, help leaders grow and collaborate with other community institutions to do as much good in the area as possible.
The church has more opportunity to enact change in the community when it works with local institutions like the school system, health departments, social agencies and law enforcement, Maiko said.
“The social determinants of health cannot be tackled by only one group,” Maiko said. “We have to find ways of coming together and strategizing together.”