Faith leaders from all over West Virginia will gather in Buckhannon Saturday Oct. 3 to launch the West Virginia Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits network, inspired by the state’s poor health standing. “It’s past time to do this,” said Steve Willis, pastor of Kenova’s First Baptist Church. We’ll be there to help people find new ways to live healthier, longer lives. We’ll be there because this is God’s work.”
“Our aim to trade ideas and inspire each other,” he said. Deacon Rickey French will tell about his church’s campaign to help expand healthy food in one of Logan county’s poorest communities. Cookie Law will tell how the community of Harrisville, led by churches, turned a dilapidated gym into a state-of-the-art community recreation center. Sarah Halstead will tell how South Charleston’s First Presbyterian Church is transforming Wednesday Night Dinner with a healthy chef challenge. “We’re finding fun ways to set a good example on caring for the bodies God gave us,” she said.
Willis, author of the nationally-praised Winning the Food Fight, one of two keynote speakers, will describe the lifesaving transformation of his church’s food culture. State Senator John Unger, who also pastors three churches of three denominations – Methodist, Lutheran and Episcopalian- in the eastern panhandle – will speak about the importance of interfaith action. “Our children are at risk,” he said. “Working together, we can change that.”
Leaders of the United Methodist Church, the Presbytery of West Virginia, Catholic Charities, the American Baptist Church, and others have partnered with Try This West Virginia, a statewide healthy living movement, to create the network. The aim: Create a network that makes it easy for interested churches and other faith organizations to trade ideas and create new opportunities for healthy food and physical activity in their communities.
“To get West Virginia off the worst health lists, the churches need to be involved, so we’re glad to do whatever we can to help this network succeed,” said Try This co-director Kate Long.
Attendees will learn how to create affordable, practical programs in their own churches: Adopt the Daniel Plan, a healthy-church program; Get people running and walking through a Couch to 5K program; Change your food culture with healthier food and drink; Offer programs that help people manage their stress and chronic diseases.
For more information and photos, visit www.trythiswv.com/healthyspiritwv/.