The Partners in Health and Wholeness Eastern NC Summit, titled “Mindful Together: Our Health Connects Us to Each Other and God” was more than an event. It was a gathering of community-dwellers and time-investors, diligent practicers of faith, compassionate listeners, and convicted leaders. It was beyond a summit, symposium, or anything that I could have dreamed up; it was sacred. God freed us that day to lean in and learn, be with each other, and wrestle with the emotional weight that comes with our communities’ health concerns.
The Spirit was present throughout our day. The energy was positive and uplifting, but also authentic; people were transparent and vulnerable. In a disconnected world, these spaces are scarce but sacred. When you’re in these rare spaces, you are free to question, learn, and share.
Many in my generation feel that today’s church is out of touch. However, on October 25, we heard presenters and participants alike name difficult truths: trauma, suicide, addiction, climate change, mental health concerns, racism, stigma, and much more. These harrowing truths are relevant wherever you find yourself in this world, because the world is hurting. These topics came up during our time together because the people that gathered for our summit are the brave folks that look at pain directly.
PHW health ministries are involved in deep, soul work. Partners in Health and Wholeness churches ask difficult questions- questions that do not always have an answer, let alone a familiar answer. While promoting a new way of living, working towards healthier lifestyles within their churches, our health leads see a lot. These are the people that show up when someone is living with anxiety and cannot seem to handle one more hurricane, or encourage a new mom that is paralyzed by her Postpartum Depression. Health ministry includes the dark somber parts of life that are not celebrated or even acknowledged.
We had tremendous speakers and interesting topics thanks to good people working in the world, that are willing to share their wisdom. Our presenters spurred conversation that inspired further ministry in various contexts. We are so grateful for: Pastor Dawn Baldwin Gibson, Justine Post, the Reverend Sarah Ogletree, and Pastor Jessie Garner for leading sessions that raised sincere conversation around: trauma, community engagement, health and our environment, and harm reduction in the local church. Our speakers cultivated a place of authenticity that carried our day.
It was a day of healing and naming what pains God, and how we are called to be mindful together, striving for a health that helps us meet each other and God. Perhaps that means sobriety, or tackling the shame that we carry, or forging a new relationship with food. Maybe it means prioritizing therapy and holding boundaries. Or finding a way to spend more time outside. Health is expansive and can be experienced in so many ways, because God designed health.
Our Partners in Health and Wholeness churches and health leads are brave. They are committed to health and the belief that our health connects us to each other and God. Does that mean perfection? Of course not. But as I was reminded at our event, it does mean vulnerability, naming what is difficult, and working alongside God to bring hope to the pain of the world.
PHW churches are rolling up their sleeves and meeting people where they are through love, action, and changes in lifestyle. I am grateful to work and walk alongside churches who live this out in their health ministries. We invite you to join us at one of our events, come hear stories that will inspire you and convict you, after all, we are called to be “Mindful Together”.