This article explores the faith-based medical missions of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi to underserved rural indigenous peoples of Panama. The Mississippi Model focuses on health care delivery and de-emphasizes conversion to a religious faith, an approach that some may classify as a faith-based community performing secular tasks. However, the Mississippi Model arises from incarnational theology, which—viewed from both historical and contemporary perspectives—argues against a secular categorizing of the mission clinics. Consistently, our interviews with missioners, participant-observations, and review of the Episcopal Church literature, both nationally and in Mississippi, suggest that mission performance is considered a practice of faith not distinct from other expressions of faith, such as liturgical worship.
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