Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

UMC Day of Health: Sharing Passions for Health and Wholeness

By Bella Simonetti*

DUNWOODY, Georgia - Only at the United Methodist Day of Health will you find a hula hoop circus artist, United Methodist clergy, and other health enthusiasts gathered in one room. "I'm here to learn about wholeness, and that faith is interconnected with health and shalom," said Millie Kim of North Georgia Annual Conference.

In partnership with the North Georgia Annual Conference, Global Ministries hosted its third health forum on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Representatives from local United Methodist churches, health care coordinators, general agency representatives, and affiliates gathered to share their passion for health.

Abundant Health: mind, body, and spirit

"We're here to talk about abundant life, and more specifically abundant health," said the Rev. Dan Brown of Dunwoody United Methodist Church. "Jesus didn't want us to just exist spiritually, or just physically, or just mentally. Jesus wanted us to be healthy in the fullest sense."

United Methodist clergy and health care professionals emphasized the importance of churches leading health programs. Abundant Health is not one dimensional. Rather, Abundant Health involves health programs encompassing mind, body, and spirit.

"What is your congregation passionate about?" Poonam Patodia, chief marketing officer from United Methodist Communications, asked the room. "What things can your congregation get around that can then be shared with your community? Let your health program be defined by the passion of your congregation."

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Dr. Sara Wilcox of University of South Carolina and Rev. Kathy James of South Carolina Annual Conference share about South Carolina Annual Conference's success with health initiative, Faith, Activity, and Nutrition (FUN). PHOTO: ANTHONY TRUEHEART

Engaging congregations and communities

Health posters lining the walls showcased the work of churches and agencies active in health projects.

One poster displayed vibrant pictures of people working in gardens and buying produce. "We saw a need in our community, and wanted to fill it," said Marcy Jones of St. Luke United Methodist Church. Jones and members of her church are part of Good Neighbor Ministries. The ministry serves the local community by bringing organic produce from local farms to a population where diabetes and high blood pressure are common. They also host a health clinic three times a week. "It's really been a collaborative effort. At our church, we don't have any experts. I think it's encouraging for folks to know that you don't have to be a health expert, you can just jump in!"

Representatives from DisAbility Ministries Committee, an United Methodist organization dedicated to accessibility for people of all abilities, were also present at UMC Day of Health. "As the church, we cannot be exclusive," said a representative of the organization. "One in four people struggle with mental illness, and it's not as recognizable as a physical disability. It's time that we bring this to the light and talk about it as a community." DisAbility Ministries Committee has a strong grassroots presence in the North Georgia Annual Conference and hopes churches everywhere will be involved.

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Toni Rubio, founder of Move to Empower, leads participants in a fitness fun class during breakout sessions. PHOTO: JENNIFER SILVER

Inspiration for healthy living

Breakout sessions featured hands-on activities to inspire church members. Attendees participated in healthy cooking demonstrations and a fitness fun class led by founder of Move to Empower, Toni Rubio. Participants also had the opportunity to get tested for HIV.

In support of the World Council of Churches' campaign to decrease stigma around HIV, Someone Cares, Inc. provided the HIV testing. Leaders from Global Ministries led by example by being the first ones tested for HIV.

United Methodist Communications facilitated hula-hoop-making station for people to make their own hoops. "After you make one, you feel connected to it," said one participant. A performance by a hula hoop circus artist kicked-off a preview of the upcoming Hulapalooza event. After a quick lesson on how to hula-hoop, attendees joined in on hula-hoop games using their handcrafted hoops.

"It really was a great day!" said one participant.

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Participants at UMC Day of Health make their own hoops at UMCOM's hoop-making station using PVC piping, connectors, and decorative tape. PHOTO: ANTHONY TRUEHEART

Become an advocate for health 

Health and wholeness are spiritual matters. "We want churches to see Abundant Health on a broader level, beyond malaria," said Patodia. "Whatever a church is doing for health, we want to bring it under the umbrella of Abundant Health."

Are you passionate about health and wholeness? Learn how your church can get involved visiting UMCAbudantHealth.org or contact Ashley Jester, health education specialist for Global Ministries.

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Using their hand-made hula-hoops, participants joined in on a friendly competition to see who could hula-hoop the longest. PHOTO: ANTHONY TRUEHEART

*Bella Simonetti is communication specialist from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries