The following are some of Executive Director George Reed’s remarks at the statewide launch of the Strive to Revive campaign on August 7:
We see preserving health as an issue of faith. We who are Christians follow a religious leader whom we still call “The Great Physician”. Forty percent of the stories in the gospels are about health and wholeness. In the Greek New Testament (the language in which it was written), the words “healing,” “wholeness,” and “salvation” all come from the same Greek word. (For me, raised and steeped in Baptist teachings about personal salvation, realizing that salvation, healing and wholeness are tied together in the Bible was an eye-opener.) Because of our biblical calling, we have built hospitals, trained doctors and nurses, sent medical missionaries around the world, created free clinics, hired parish nurses, promoted healthy lifestyles, and used our congregations as wellness centers. Health and wholeness are important to us as part of the practice of our Christianity, as they are in many other faiths.
The Council of Churches started Partners in Health and Wholeness more than three years ago as a way to improve the health of our clergy and parishioners by equipping congregations to be health promotion and health education centers. PHW has been supported by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and is still being supported by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Foundation. Since its inception, PHW has successfully engaged faith communities in health promotion activities by connecting them with existing health resources across the state; by developing a certification program to recognize and reward congregations for their efforts; by creating a virtual clearinghouse of health-related tools and resources for clergy, congregants, PHW liaisons and health advocates; and by offering free trainings and events on the spiritual relevance of living healthily. We have a wonderfully gifted staff: Willona Stallings, who is the program director; Joy Williams, our regional organizer in an eight-county area from Fayetteville to the South Carolina border; and Shannon Axtell, who starts work in September as a regional organizer in the Triad and surrounding counties.
PHW is all about partnerships, as we connect faith communities with already existing health resources, so Strive to Revive fits smoothly into that work. We are pleased to be partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, with the American Red Cross, and with Rep. Carney to make life-saving AEDs and CPR training available in congregations across the state. These first thirty-three represent a diversity of congregations. They are large and they are small. They are rural and they are downtown. Some are predominantly white and others predominantly African-American. They come from as far west as Franklin and as far east as Jacksonville, and they come from twelve distinct faith traditions. We are grateful to know that, when the need arises, these AEDs and the CPR training that goes with them will be available to save lives and to play a role in restoring people to health and wholeness.
–George Reed, Executive Director