Resources for Congregational Health Ministries
I'd like to return to a theme I've touched on before: that the local church is a great venue for health-promotion activities.
Below are a few resources for churches that are intentional about caring for the bodies of congregants and community members. All of these program templates have some basic principles in common:
- They all urge churches to offer healthy food choices at church-sanctioned meals.
- They all suggest that churches incorporate programs and facilities for outdoor play among children and walking and other healthful physical activities among adults.
- They all stress that churches educate laity on healthy behaviors and ask that clergy to set a positive example and even preach on health topics at regular intervals.
- And all of them recommend policies on tobacco-free buildings (especially the ones based here in the Tar Heel State).
Partners in Health and Wholeness is a program sponsored by the N.C. Council of Churches to promote holistic health as a faith issue. It offers a certification program that guides congregations in developing sustainable health ministries. The Bronze level of the program is fairly simple; the more ambitious Silver and Gold levels help churches carry the program further. Partners in Health and Wholeness is particularly strong on scriptural, prayer and worship resources related to health.
Eat Smart Move More North Carolina is a public-private partnership aimed at fighting obesity and other lifestyle-related illnesses. Its Faithful Families section is tailored for congregations. This program has a more “professional” feel to it than Partners in Health and Wholeness, emphasizing assessment before and evaluation after a wellness program. But it's sound. Their site is especially good for its informational resources, including bulletin inserts and wall posters.
First Lady Michelle Obama's federal campaign against childhood obesity has created a Let's Move Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations. It is particularly good for outreach to schools and families with young children.
Let us know what you think of these resources.
John James, M.A.
Research Analyst, Clergy Health Initiative