The 2012 County Health Rankings report, recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, points to major disparities in health by geographic location – with urban areas like Wake, Durham, Mecklenburg and Guilford counties experiencing overall better health than many rural parts of the state like Columbus, Bladen, Scotland and Robeson counties.
The North Carolina Council of Churches, a statewide nonprofit promoting Christian unity and social justice, is working to alleviate the problem through its faith-based health initiative, Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW). PHW promotes health as a practice of our faith and works to improve the health of clergy and congregants.
The Council regards health disparities as a moral issue. Our scriptures teach that Jesus Christ died so that we might have life and that more abundantly– regardless of income, education, skin color or place of residence. Unfortunately, disparities in health are often defined by such social and economic factors. PHW works with congregations, including those in underserved parts of the state, to connect issues of faith and health and to help them implement healthy activities, programs and policies. In the end, we expect to see healthier clergy, healthier congregants, and healthier communities.
-Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator