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Finding Help — and Hope — through Call to Health


When the Reverend Dr. Thomas Schacher, Senior Pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church, Midland, Michigan, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s earlier this year, he was in the prime of his life. Just 53 years old, he had served a variety of Presbyterian churches with joy, energy, and purpose for more than 20 years. Now, the blunt reality of his diagnosis and rapidly escalating symptoms changed everything — or so it seemed. He needed to go on disability for a time, and he felt he’d slipped his moorings.

“I lost my day-to-day sense of who I am and what I am here to do,” Dr.  Schacher said. “I was slipping into this terrible complacency and abdicating myself to the disease within me.”

Then, he found Call to Health, and it awakened something in him. “I discovered all of these wonderfully encouraging and equipping topics, seminars, and challenges.” The social aspect of Call to Health, a community of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pastors, other church workers, and spouses covered by the Medical Plan, was especially helpful to him. “I’ve been encouraged by reading how others are meeting the challenges as well, and working to make this world a better place for themselves and for others.”

Over the past few months, Dr. Schacher has regained a sense of life’s possibilities. “Through Call to Health, I am feeling empowered to take life as the gift it is and get it going in a positive direction once again.” He knows his disease is ongoing; there is no cure, yet. But he also recognizes that, with help, he can engage with life in heartfelt and meaningful ways.

“There are helps out there to make me stronger and regain more of whom God has created me to be,” Dr. Schacher said. “I am certainly thankful for Call to Health. It has made the difference for me.”