Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW), an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches, is designed to bridge issues of faith, health, and justice. We partner with faith communities to provide the necessary tools for healthy, whole, and abundant living. Through these spotlights, we will be sharing an overview of the programs and initiatives of some of our partner congregations doing great work. For more information on how to join the Collaborative, visit healthandwholeness.org.
MAXTON, NC — Francine McLaurin has dedicated her life to focusing on the health and well-being of others. From serving as a Registered Nurse (RN) in the operating room, emergency room, Air Force, and home health, Francine has a unique perspective that she is able to bring to her position as health-lead at St. Matthews Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church.
Since its inception, St. Matthews’ health ministry has tremendously grown. During its initial stages, the ministry provided resources in the bulletin related to health topics such as immunizations and cleanliness.The work has now expanded into a true community-wide service. Francine has partnered with the Cooperative Extension agencies in Robeson and Scotland Counties to provide a series of seminars from Faithful Families curriculum entitled, Eating Smart and Moving More. Through cooking demonstrations and taste testing, the curriculum teaches participants the importance of a healthy diet and routine exercise. Along with this, St. Matthews has a health corner with a blood pressure monitor and resources on hypertension, hosts monthly health screenings for the community, and provides a health resource library with information on vaccination, smoking cessation, and young adult health issues.
Francine also discussed the annual, community-wide health and wellness fair hosted by St. Matthews. Through a partnership with Scotland Memorial Hospital’s mobile unit, they are able to provide community members with their personal health diagnostics through blood work and blood pressure monitoring. Local vendors, including the health department, a local chiropractor, NC Cooperative Extension, and Veterans Affairs, are also in attendance to talk with participants and provide useful resources. Francine reflected on the growth of the health and wellness fair : “We started with the congregation and continue to work within the congregation, but our biggest goal now is outreach in the community and partnering with the Town of Maxton.”
Two very impactful programs at St. Matthews are the Garden of Eatin’ and Church League Basketball. The Garden of Eatin’ is a community garden of fresh food for the entire community. Francine commented on how the garden has become a source of nourishment for the mind, body, and soul: “I’m getting feedback about the mental health aspect of the garden through fellowship. We can share things with one another that might be causing stress in our lives, and it’s important to have a non-judgmental ear.”
The Church Basketball League is a new initiative of the health ministry that just began this year. It was formed for males 16 or older to encourage at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Francine reflected on the league and said it was especially beneficial in providing a fun, organized sport for those out of school and those who are not involved in a school sport. It also provided the church with an opportunity to fellowship not only within the congregation, but also with other local faith communities.
Thank you to Francine McLaurin and the congregation at St. Matthews Metropolitan AME Zion Church for your tireless hard work and dedication to health. PHW is proud to be represented by and engage with such a strong community. If you have any questions or would like more information about the programs discussed above, please feel free to contact Francine McLaurin at firstname.lastname@example.org.