Mississippi Pastor Leading the Way Toward Community Health
Michael Minor, a Baptist pastor in Mississippi, has banished fried chicken from fellowship events at his church. He urges other churches and pastors to do the same.
This story "has legs," as they say, appearing in more numerous and increasingly prominent places, finally making the New York Times last week.
Minor's credibility and bona fides in his Delta community are important, but so is the perspective he brings from having lived and studied outside Mississippi, and having pursued another career prior to ministry. He is a great example of a pastor bringing his whole self to his leadership role.
But more than a portrait of a single leader, the Times story paints a rich and appropriately complex picture of local ministry: the polite resistance to change, the forces of tradition and economics that tend to protect the status quo.
Not even in the Mississippi Delta is local culture immune from national trends and influences. Chain restaurants are about as bad an influence as home cooking in rural areas. But communities in the Delta have to make changes for themselves, in their own way and in their own time. Because at the end of the day, "how long is an outsider going to stay in Lula, Mississippi?"
Minor is also leading a "health ambassadors" program throughout his denomination, the National Baptist Convention USA.
It's great to see the growing recognition that churches have an important role to play in community health, and in particular, that the food served at local churches is significant, both its quality and its quantity.
John James, M.A.
Research Analyst, Clergy Health Initiative