Pizazz. Laughter. Friends. Singing. These words describe the Healthy Churches 2020 National Conference. But, did you know that a faith and health national conference even exists?
Healthy Churches 2020 held its third annual national conference in Charlotte, NC. A Balm in Gilead, a non-profit based out of Virginia organizes this conference. They develop educational and training programs for churches. They mostly meet the needs of African-American and African congregations. Furthermore, they encourage these churches to become community centers. The ultimate goal is to focus on health education and disease prevention. Still, the conference drew in a diverse crowd of all races.
People from all over the country (about 500!) came to learn new skills. Healthy Churches 2020 is the only faith-based and public health national conference of its kind. This organization is based out of Richmond. However, for the past three years they chose NC to host their conference. They take pride in equipping churches with tools to help or form health ministries. They present new ideas to help existing ministries. Also, they offer knowledge and solutions around health disparities. And, they do all of this while promoting prayer, sharing biblical sermons, reading the bible, and singing songs of praise—incredible fusion. Spiritual practices are often left out of public health messaging, so it was refreshing to see this combination at a national conference.
One North Carolinian and first-year participant who attended this conference called me after. She happily shared that she was overjoyed to go to workshops around grant writing. She could not believe she could get support to write a strategic health plan for her church. I enjoyed listening to her delight in the preaching and networking. She shared that she learned about PHW for the first time from another participant. She is looking forward to filling out the Bronze certification when it re-opens in February.
There were so many other resources at this conference as well. For example, memory screenings, food demonstrations, and discussions about different illnesses were very popular. It was awesome. It was fun to be around such energetic and passionate people.
This was the third time Partners in Health and Wholeness attended this conference. It was also a repeat for many certified congregations. Among those churches were St. Matthews AME Zion and Crown in Glory Lutheran Church.
Partners in Health and Wholeness wants to support your faith and health efforts. We have our state-wide conference coming up in 2017. I am reminded that conferences like Healthy Churches 2020 expand faith/health networks. As a matter of fact, they are a great tool for new health information. Maybe you will attend a health and faith conference in the near future. If so, please make sure you share your findings. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more information about the Partners in Health and Wholeness Faith and Health Summit in the fall 2017!