Prospect Presbyterian Church, 9425 W. NC Hwy 152 in Mooresville, has achieved the North Carolina Council of Churches’ first Gold Certification for the congregation’s commitment to better health.
The Rev. Joanne Hull serves as Prospect’s pastor with Sybil Perrell, RN, as the parish nurse for this rural church in the edge of Western Rowan County.
Prospect Presbyterian has been a leader in the surrounding community since the 1800s and continues to find innovative ways to service the congregation and community. Their commitment to a Holistic approach to health is another way they have chosen to do this.
The Council – a statewide organization committed to the twin goals of ecumenism and social justice – developed a new health initiative in April of 2009 called Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW). The mission of PHW is to promote health as a practice of faith and to ultimately improve the health of clergy and congregants through increased physical activity, proper nutrition and tobacco use prevention and cessation.
Congregations from different denominations and geographic areas across the state are “exercising” their faith by acknowledging that their bodies are the temple of God and by participating in the PHW Certification Program. In January 2010, the first level of certification, bronze, was unveiled which requires congregations to name a health contact person to take the lead on health promotion, maintain tobacco-free buildings and serve healthier church meals.
Then, in January, silver and gold certifications were announced – each of which include more advanced activities such as growing a community garden, getting involved in health advocacy at the local, state and national levels and preaching one or more times a year on health as a faith issue.
As the Council’s first gold certification recipient, Prospect Presbyterian has successfully demonstrated its commitment to better health by
• hosting Health Awareness Sundays on which they talk about the importance of health stewardship (i.e., eating nutritious foods and being physically active);
• hosting health fairs which include BMI measurements, blood pressure checks, flu vaccinations, and consultations with the Parish Nurse;
• advocating for long-term solutions to worldwide hunger;
• playing an instrumental role in changing Rowan County’s regulations on industrial air pollution (now the strictest in the state);
• incorporating health education, particularly around nutrition, into Bible studies;
• holding “Lunch ‘n Learn” events immediately after Sunday worship services, covering such topics as “Cholesterol: What you Need to Know,” “Diabetes vs. Hypoglycemia,” and “Wise Up on Meds.”
The Council – including its 27 member judicatories, eight member congregations, Governing Board and staff – is proud of all the good health-related work that is happening in churches across the state as they work together to reduce the impact of physical inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use.
“I stand in awe and admiration of Prospect Presbyterian Church in Mooresville for being the first to achieve our highest level of honor and for taking seriously the health of God’s people” says Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator. “They are setting a wonderful example for others in the community to follow.”