By Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service – NC
LUMBERTON, N.C. – Weight loss is the most popular New Year’s resolution being made by North Carolinians and people around the country, according to new data from the University of Scranton. The goal of being healthier is even making its way into churches around the state, through a program sponsored by the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Willona Stallings, Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW) state coordinator, says reaching people through their faith is a great way to spread a message of health.
“Church is where large numbers of people gather. We have an opportunity to make a difference as it relates to improving the health of all North Carolinians, including people of faith.”
Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW) reaches 170 congregations across 40 counties, and about 60,000 people are participating.
Pastor Thomas Murray heads the First Baptist Church, Lumberton. Its members have been participating in the program for the last year, he says.
“It was wonderful. It really surprised me at how well the congregation really embraced the whole idea.”
Murray includes the topic of wellness in some of his sermons, and his church also serves healthier church meals and snacks to members. The church is in Robeson County, where 41 percent of the adults are obese. Statewide, 29 percent of residents report themselves as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.