Why Walk

A Journey for Body and Spirit

For most people, walking is a simple form of exercise. Weather permitting, walkers can be outside on nature paths, sidewalks, or tracks. They can also be inside malls, large stores or fitness centers. Individuals can choose the length of time and pace of walking. The health benefits of a brisk walking habit are well known, […]

Faithful to Empower

Health ministry in every congregation

by J. Elisha Burke

Since its inception in 1899, the Baptist General Convention of Virginia (BGCVA) has remained faithful to its educational mission through outreach that empowers and equips children, youth, women, and men to make and maintain healthy holistic lifestyle choices. The conference is a nonprofit organization representing 1,000 African American churches and 29 regional associations in urban, […]


The Whole Church

Q&A with Otis Moss III

by Stacy Smith

A hip-hop pastor born of the civil rights movement, Otis Moss III is the senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Embracing a holistic approach to ministry informed by Black liberation theology, Dr. Moss has led efforts to address social issues through the lens of community health. His recent book, Blue […]

Getting Through the Storm

Faith community nurse serves families of homicide victims

by Lizy Heard

At the corner of Lambdin and St. Louis Avenue in the Ville district sits Mt. Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Ronald Fraction, a former police officer and currently a chaplain for the St. Louis City Police Department and St. Louis Retired Police Officers. He and faith community nurse Alverta Smith partner in caring […]

Shalom and Creation

Protectors, Cultivators, and Servants of the Land

by Lisa Sharon Harper

I grew up with five brothers and sisters. My older brother and I often were put in charge of our other siblings when my mother and dad were out of the house. In the same way, God puts humans—the youngest siblings of creation—in charge of our older sibling creatures. It is our responsibility to keep […]

A Place To Call Home

An organization in Dallas seeks to provide a safe space for homeless youth

by Hannah Walter

In 2012, community leaders from the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, approached its neighboring high school, North Dallas High School, to see how the congregation could best serve the school and their community. What they discovered was a startling fact: in the Dallas Independent School District, 3,000 students are designated as homeless. While […]

A Zone for Shalom

Grassroots movements of church and community leaders aims to put the neighborhood "parish" back in the church

by Michael J. Christensen

They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. —Isaiah 61:4 A spirit of innovation is blowing in the wind, creating new opportunities for church redevelopment and fresh expressions of ecclesia in particular neighborhoods. Either a new notion of […]

Name, Bless, Connect

What happened when a Midwestern church stopped “helping” their community and started listening instead.

by Mike Mather

The county health department in my Midwestern city invited me to a press conference releasing the results of a five-year study. The study revealed that people who don’t have money are less healthy than people who have money. Except for two of us, everyone in the room was a health care professional. One by one, […]

Gonna Make You Sweat

Sweaty Sheep Ministries

by Mary Boland

“When did we decide that faith was a passive experience?” Ryan Althaus, a fitness enthusiast and recreation specialist, says that it’s not. Recognizing the disconnect between recreation and the church, Ryan saw an opportunity to merge the two, and Sweaty Sheep Ministries was born.“Movement is so tied to fitness and wellness overall,” he stresses, “it’s […]

Every Church an Innovator

Just as Jesus responded to the immediate needs of his community, the church is called to an innovation process that places empathy at its core.

by Floyd Thompkins and Byron Bland

Every community desires to equip young people with the spiritual, social and psychological skills that are needed for them to have a bright future. This is especially difficult in economically and socially challenged areas and neighborhoods. Yet fewer young people are attracted to our churches. More, alarmingly, the rates of violence and death among middle […]

The Creativity Story

Writing, telling, hearing and imagining the story of our creation

by Ashley Goff

Standing in Sacred Greens, the urban garden of Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, DC, I see that the March sky is that end-of-the-winter blue-gray color. Our raised garden beds are full of spent kale and spinach. The soil is choppy, the snow and ice of the past few weeks speckling brown ground underneath. Bare […]

Building in the Black Belt

The story of Rural Studio, its students, and the people they serve

by Mary Boland

Sometimes the greatest innovations are born from the simplest elements. In the 1992–93 academic year at Auburn University, two professors, Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee and D. K. Ruth, established an innovative academic program called Rural Studio built on the simple foundation of fulfilling two needs: Auburn’s architecture students need hands-on experience designing buildings, and the people […]


Being fearfully, wonderfully and differently made

by Mike Samson

Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” – Matthew 2:1–2 I suppose being the father of a child with special needs is different than being the father of a typical child. I can’t say for sure. Our first-born son, Matthew, who […]

To Be Known And Loved

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia

by Mary Button

I was in my second year studying ethics at the Candler School of Theology when I first visited Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in southeast Atlanta. In typical fashion I tiptoed into the sanctuary about five minutes after the start of worship. My good friend and fellow student was preaching that day, and I had hoped […]

Dis-abling Pain

Ways of Thinking about--and Dealing With--Chronic Pain

by Michelle M. Lelwica

When I told my chiropractor, who knows I’m a religion professor, that I was writing a paper on chronic pain for an academic conference, she gave me a funny look. “What’s chronic pain got to do with religion?” she asked. But before I had a chance to respond, she began answering her own question. Some […]


To Belong, We Need To Be Missed

Q&A with John Swinton, director of the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability at the University of Aberdeen

by Jessica Bratt Carle

As a mental health nurse for 16 years, John Swinton worked closely with those whom society deems to be “different.” These formative experiences with disability, mental health, and dementia led him to found the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability, an international research institute at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Now a world-renowned scholar, […]

It Takes a Village

The mission of Special Olympics and the role we can all play in supporting the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities

by Kristin Hughes Srour

At a Special Olympics camp held near Transylvania, Romania, a little girl sprints with a personality larger than life. Maria only moves at one speed—fast. The only words she knows in English, “yeah, baby!” are her standard response after you give her a high five. Even at age five, Maria is quite small on account […]

Rejection and Grace

Why the Church Needs People Who Have Intellectual Disabilities

by Bethany Keener

Charles Clark marched into a class where Rev. Tim Malone was teaching and declared that he was there because he was going to get confirmed. “I am not proud to say it, but I remember thinking cynically, Yeah, sure you are. And how is that going to work?” recalls Rev. Malone, who pastors at St. […]

Homebound Tips Throughout the Year

by Church Health Reader Editors

The holiday season can be the most uplifting and challenging time of the year for all of us. This is particularly the case for people who are homebound or otherwise unable to attend church, visit their friends or see their families. When it comes to ministering to the homebound, our intentions are wonderful. The holiday […]

Gather Around the Table Coloring Page

Share the joy of gathering around the table. Photocopy this coloring sheet for your children or children at your church!  Download here >> Gather Around the Table

Artful Aging

How churches are developing community partnerships to provide creative therapy for seniors with Alzheimer's and dementia

by Melissa Huff

He hadn’t recognized himself for years. Sometimes he couldn’t even remember his own name. With a pencil clinched between stiff fingers he carefully retraces the sketch of a tall, slender gentleman with a milk chocolate complexion and sparkling eyes dressed in a dapper suit; a cap propped upon his head. Then he dips his brush in […]

10 Healthy Holiday Traditions

by Church Health Reader Editors

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. Yet for many of us, the sacred aspects of Advent are lost in the holiday shuffle and it can become the unhealthiest time of the year. Sweet foods seem to be everywhere. Shopping, baking and traveling leave us tired and stressed. This season, use these traditions […]

After the Tragedy

After the murders at Emanuel AME, I turned to silence, community and Scripture to help bear the pain of loss.

by William Miller

For me, faith has a complex new meaning in the days following the tragedy that occurred in a Bible study held at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. I remember walking through the door at home that evening after attending Vacation Bible School at the church I pastored and almost simultaneously receiving […]

A Model Hospital

How one medical center is making the Model for Healthy Living come to life

by Mary Boland

The OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Wellness Services has taken the Model for Healthy Living to a whole new level by using its structure in their Surgical Weight Loss Program. They’ve devised a revision of the information provided to patients by crafting Journey to Better Health Wellness Passports. The pocket-sized passports are easily portable so […]

How to Think Like a Doctor

by Nia Zalamea

Preparing for a visit to the doctor is what I imagine prepping for a blind date might be like: how to tell them everything that matters to you in 10 minutes or less. Getting the most out of that small amount of time isn’t only important for you, it’s critical for the medical team as […]

A Community Called Home

Ministries Creating a Dwelling Place for the Moral Injury of Our Veterans

by Elsa Peters Cook

“The trauma that warriors face can’t be healed by medication or even talk therapy,” explains the Rev. John Schluep. “It can only come through the gritty work of being in the trenches.” With the increasing awareness that 22 veterans commit suicide each day, communities of faith are looking for new ways of being in the […]

Spiritual Care for Spiritual Distress

by Cynthia Wacker

A simple tool to aid in examining our personal beliefs about the experience of violence. In thinking through these questions, how can we prepare to be healing agents for those who need compassionate, faithful support? This term spiritual distress is used professionally within medical circles and recognizes the complete disruption of life that pervades a […]

Invisible Countries

Traveling with others through their stories of trauma

by Susan Palwick

In the medical world, the word trauma refers to very specific classes of life-threatening injury. The hospital where I volunteer isn’t a trauma center, which means that—except for a few rare cases where trauma patients arrive under their own power, and even rarer mass casualty incidents—we don’t see people who’ve been shot, stabbed, severely burned, […]

Intergenerational Living

You're Never Too Old (or Young) to be a Good Neighbor

by Mary Boland

Housing is often a particular issue for two groups of people: students and older adults. While college costs only seem to be growing, the need for affordable student housing has never been greater. And for older adults, moving to a nursing home or assisted living apartment often leaves them anxious, lonely, and frustrated. Humanitas Retirement […]

Growing Hope

The Healing Potential of Trauma-Informed Faith Communities

by Andrea Blanch

In 2012, a statewide survey in Tennessee measured the prevalence of ten “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs)—things like child abuse and neglect, living with domestic violence, or having a family member incarcerated. The survey showed that over half of Tennessee citizens experienced at least one ACE before the age of 18, and more than 20 percent […]

Health Care, the Whole Person, and Community Engagement

A Case Study of the Church Health Center of Memphis, TN

by Antony Sheehan, Maureen Bisognano and Robert Waller

This article is excerpted from Health Care, the Whole Person, and Community Engagement: Church Health Center of Memphis, Tennessee by Sheehan, A., Bisognano, M., Waller, R. Published by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 2014. The full article is available at www.ihi.org. The Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is committed to encouraging […]

The Cards

By simple words, Marty was reconnected to life

by Larry Kinard

When Marty was in ICU after a ruptured aneurysm, people sent cards to our son’s address in Dallas or our home in Waco. Our friend Sue would truck them to us at the hospital when she visited. The cards were from all over: friends from church, Marty’s high school and college friends, strangers from other […]

A Garden Hospital

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun, Singapore

by Mary Boland

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun, Singapore, is doing things differently. Described as a “hospital in a garden and a garden in a hospital,” its mission resonates with a holistic approach to care by providing patients, visitors, and the whole community a place to rest and rejuvenate in body and mind. For every one square […]

Be Not Afraid

Creating a system of care built on love, not fear

by Antony Sheehan

I coughed for three weeks straight. I remember enough from my nursing training to know that was not a good sign. Finally, my officemate at the Church Health Center, Dr. Scott Morris, had enough of my hacking. Who can blame him? He practically picked me up by my shirt collar and marched me over to […]

10 Tips for a Healthy Stay-Cation

Vacation planning can sometimes be as stressful as a day job. So why not take that week off, sit down in your garden, your patio swing, your favorite living room chair, and just breathe? While this might seem boring, there’s actually plenty you can do to vacation in a healthy way! Here are some ways […]

Build Your Own Buddy Ball

by Mary Boland

Ready to start a program at your church? We asked Margaret Davis, coordinator at Buddy Ball Special Needs Athletic League in Clarksville, Tennessee, how to start a special needs sports program: Consider who is going to be involved in the program – children, teens, adults? Tailor the program to their needs and interests. Be flexible. […]

Sing for Health’s Sake

How symbols, singing and the music of faith provide hope and healing

by John L. Bell

The connection between music and healing is well rehearsed. When King Saul felt himself in the grip of an evil spirit, he employed the boy David to play his lyre as a proven means of relief (1 Samuel 16:23). Thousands of music therapists in the present day can offer stunning anecdotes of how music can […]

Holy, Healing and Heart Healthy

Red Dress Sunday at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland

by Mary Boland

Heart disease often flies under the radar of self-diagnosis. A slew of other health problems easily could cause shortness of breath, back pain, nausea and jaw pain. Maybe you took those stairs a little too quickly. Maybe you pulled a muscle at the gym. Maybe stress at work has you clenching your jaw. Or maybe […]

Healthy Holiday Hospitality

by Church Health Reader Editors

Whether you’re hosting a huge family dinner or sleeping on a couch for the night, the holidays often bring opportunities to offer and receive hospitality. Here are some tips to make guests feel welcome and to be a generous houseguest yourself. If you’re hosting … Seek a centering-something to anchor the event. Make a centerpiece […]

Death is Not the Enemy

Why End-of-Life Issues Should Matter to Churches

by Martha R. Jacobs

Near the end of his life, friend and preacher William Sloane Coffin wrote in his book Credo, “Death cannot be the enemy if it’s death that brings us to life. For just as without leave-taking there can be no arrival; without growing old there can be no growing up; without tears, no laughter; so without […]

All around the Church

Improving a Congregation's Health in Every Corner of the Building

by Stacy Smith and Rachel Davis

From church kitchens to those extra classrooms, there are many way to emphasize health throughout your church facility. This guide offers tips to making your church building a healthy place for all. THE KITCHEN Even the smallest kitchens can be a teaching kitchen. Have someone who loves to cook teach classes on cooking to any who want to learn. Use […]

A Banquet of Our Own

by Kevin Coyle

Each week I attend a Toastmasters public speaking club, but this is no ordinary group. Two recovery centers host it jointly: On Our Own of Frederick and the Community Organized Recovery Efforts. Outside the walls of the room the persons present in the meetings carry labels: alcoholic, schizophrenic, drug addict. Yet, in this gathering, labels […]

Ministry for the Bees (and us)

by Ashley Goff

By June of 2011, forty-thousand honeybees called Church of the Pilgrims’ (PCUSA) urban garden home, pollinating our urban garden and the 1,700 acres of our neighboring forest oasis Rock Creek Park. It was in February of 2011 that one of our members, Erin Littlestar, a sustainable agriculture advocate, suggested honeybee hives at Pilgrims to enhance […]


by Krystal Grant-Crutchfield

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to […]


A Church that is Poor, and for the Poor

Q&A with Fr. Jim Martin on Pope Francis

by Stacy Smith

Pope Francis is a first in many ways—the first pope from the Southern hemisphere, the first from the Americas, and the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years. He is the first Jesuit pope and also the first to remember in his chosen papal name St. Francis of Assisi, a saint known for his […]

Love Heals

A tour of Thistle Farms, where women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction now create healing balms

by Mary Button

The Bible is full of stories about oils, perfumes, incense and anointing. Almost the entire thirtieth chapter of Exodus is dedicated to the Lord’s instructions on how to anoint. Samuel anoints Saul the first king of a unified Israel and later David, is anointed king of Israel by a council of elders. The history of […]

Rock for Love

Memphis Musicians Give Back to the Church Health Center

by John Klyce Minervini

When rapper Al Kapone walks out on a stage, you know the main event has arrived. In his signature white doo rag and backwards bill cap, Kapone dazzles audiences with underground hits like “Whoop That Trick” and “Get Crunk, Get Buck.” On September 6th, Kapone—born Alphonso Bailey in North Memphis—took the stage at Rock for […]

Teaching the Whole Family

With its innovative curriculum and mandatory parent participation, Perea Preschool is beating the odds.

by John Klyce Minervini

When you think about preschool, what comes to mind? Pink pencil erasers, juice boxes, safety scissors. Those little ice cream cups with the wooden spoons. One thing you may not have thought of is an iPad. But here at Perea—a charter preschool in the Klondike neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee—there are two in every classroom, plus […]