- 5 years old to 90 years old
- 36 congregations (known)
- 50,000 miles and counting
- prayer, work, meditation
- Baptist/ Nondenominational/Episcopa-lian, Methodist/Islamic
- mental health workshops/blood pressure kits/treadmills/fitness workshops/gardens
Two years ago, we shared the NC 100-mile challenge as an opportunity for congregations to access funds that would support the faith and health ministries of their places of worship. It was meant to be a small project that would hopefully give congregations inspiration as they considered what a faith and health ministry might include. Instead, we have gotten so much more; questions that have challenged our team, stories, pictures, connection, and hope!
Our staff has been touched by the stories of participants who were older and found that being a part of the challenge made them feel a little less lonely (loneliness and health). We laughed, then cried, at the story of a congregation where the challenge had become a race between the men and women, but then turned into so much more when it became a time for folks to talk about their lives and struggles openly. We were amazed that without our suggestions of incorporating spiritual practices some congregations formed pray-for-our-communities-groups and/or explored incorporating meditation, prayer and work. Suddenly ora et labora seemed so much more real. Our staff felt the warm fuzzies when we received photos of people on top of mountains, heard about someone whose blood pressure was trending lower, imagined a 5 year old walking with a 70 year old.
We were also challenged. Challenged to think about what it looks like when more than one congregation asked how to make space for those who were differently abled and wanted to participate, and again when more than one congregation voiced their concern that the lack of transportation and available open spaces in their communities would disqualify them from participating. We were challenged because we remembered that individual behavior influences our health, but systemic factors loom large in sometimes unforeseen ways when considered at the level of daily life.
So thank you, thank you to all the faithful congregations who reaffirmed that we are mind. body and spirit. Thank you to the individual participants who inspired us to start this new year with renewed hope for the work that we do. Mostly, thank you for being faithful in the big and small ways!