The North Carolina Council of Churches held its first-ever Clergy Breakfast on Health on Thursday, August 26 at St. James African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church in Goldsboro. Twenty-five local pastors and health professionals were in attendance.
Rev. Joseph C. Brown, Sr., Presiding Elder of the A.M.E. Zion Dunn-Lillington District and current member of the NC Council of Churches’ Governing Board, set the tone for the day, delivering a powerful message on health as a practice of our faith. Rev. Brown used I Corinthians 3:16 as his focus text, reminding us that our bodies are God’s temples and that we glorify our Maker when we take care of ourselves by eating healthily and exercising. Rev. Brown’s talk was inspiring, funny, honest and thought-provoking. He challenged pastors to take seriously the health of their congregants and to make clear the connection between our faith and health during weekly worship services.
Karen Padgett, Health Promotion Coordinator at the Wayne County Health Department, presented data from the 2008 Community Health Assessment, highlighting the number of Wayne County residents who suffer disease, disability and death as a result of poor nutrition and physical inactivity. According to Padgett, 62-66% of residents are overweight or obese.
Next, I spoke about the work of the Council and the mission of our new health initiative, PHW. I also shared the spiritual relevance of healthy living, the practical relevance for pastors, and details about the new PHW Health Certification Program – a tool to assist and reward congregations for their efforts to promote health and wellness.
Finally, Rev. Rovonda Freeman, Minority Health Coordinator at the Wayne County Health Department, and NC Cooperative Extension Agent, Christine Smith, showed a video by UNC-TV which featured a local health program, Fit and Fabulous. Through this program, members of the community convene twice a week for 15 weeks to exercise and to learn about proper nutrition. These classes are very popular among Wayne County residents, so much so they plan to move to a larger space in January 2011 in order to accommodate more participants. Freeman and Smith then asked everyone to stand up and get moving – both literally and figuratively. Not only were pastors asked to share information from the day with their congregants and other clergy, but they were asked to put what they had learned to action by taking part in a brief workout before departing.
The Council will hold similar events across the state in the coming year. Please join us in a city near you!
Willona Stallings, Project Director, Partners in Health and Wholeness