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.
TRENTON, NC — Pastor Rodney Parker and health-lead Beverly Hines at St. Stephen Church of Christ have been dealt their fair share of health challenges. In 2015, Beverly Hines experienced a heart attack, and for years Pastor Parker had been managing diabetes. The experiences of Pastor Parker and Beverly were not unique in the community; many of their fellow community members were experiencing similar challenges. Beverly discussed how this affected her decision to become actively involved in the health ministry at St. Stephen Church of Christ: “I had a heart attack in 2015, and there have been [at least] 4 other people that suffer from heart disease within our church. When I recovered and I was told I needed to eat better, exercise, and take the necessary measures to take care of my heart, and with Pastor Rodney going through what he went through, it’s just something that’s close to me. I wanted to make a change.”
For about 6 years, the health ministry at St. Stephen Church of Christ has developed various programs and curriculums to promote health, wholeness, and abundant living in the community. One of their most important initiatives is the Healthy Eating Program. Congregants and community members enjoy a healthy meal together in fellowship, discuss the ingredients used to prepare the meal, and leave with a recipe card that includes instructions on how to make the meal at home. Beverly further discussed that not only is it an important program, but one that their community enjoys: “Some of the things we chose to serve people had never tried before. It’s just a way to expose community members to different foods and more healthy eating choices. We are on a great path for helping our congregants be more conscious of health and exercise.” This program has been especially impactful to Pastor Parker as exercise and healthy eating are what helped him lose weight and minimize his diabetes medication!
Much of the healthy eating program is supported by the fruitful harvests of St. Stephen’s community garden. Beverly described how the community garden has offered congregants a chance to work together in fellowship while also enjoying the fresh bounty: “After we received the grant [from Partners in Health and Wholeness], we started a community garden. We had a lot of congregants who worked in the garden and we all shared the food that came out of the garden. That was a really good opportunity for us.”
St. Stephen Church of Christ has also centered exercise in balance with healthy eating as a core part of their initiatives. Beverly very eloquently described how this grew out of a need recognized among congregants and has become something that many enjoy: “One of our members in the church started an exercise class for the seniors. They do a lot of low-impact routines. They have gone to other places and performed the routine, and people really enjoyed it.”
Over the past couple years, St. Stephen Church of Christ has been affected by the hurricanes that have caused destruction in our state. During the time I spoke to Beverly several months ago, the church was still recovering from flooding. Beverly mentioned that mental health has been recognized as an important focus because so many in the community are feeling the devastating impacts of these natural disasters: “We have a lot of people who need help, because many people experiencing homelessness do not receive the proper medication and treatment they need. Our old sanctuary will function as a community development building where we can have more classes on mental health, talk about ways to combat obesity, have community nights where we will cook, etc. We are very excited!”
Beverly Hines and Pastor Parker are living examples of the health and wholeness that God intended for us on his earth. Partners in Health and Wholeness is proud to work with St. Stephen Church of Christ through the opportunity to offer funds to support their community garden and healthy habits to promote abundant living. St. Stephen Church of Christ is also one of the many congregations still recovering from the hurricanes that have affected our neighbors in Eastern North Carolina over the past couple years. Please click here to view our Hurricane Recovery Resources to find ways that you can continue to support these recovery efforts.