For the Health of It! in New Jersey

Faithful Families PRINT


Guest Writer: Heidi Smith

New Covenant United Methodist Church in Hamilton Township, New Jersey was recently selected by the New Jersey State Department of Health to receive a Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More grant to begin a new health ministry!  Only four faith based organizations in the state were selected in the competitive grant process.  We are the only United Methodist Church.  The grant period is from March to August 2013.

Our program was recently featured in an article in the Hamilton Pulse, “Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More.”  Check it out at the link here!

strawberryNew Covenant’s project, For the Health of It!, will be about making transformational changes in the health status of the community we serve.  Our community includes our church congregants, our neighbors and those who utilize our Food Pantry.  Our Pastor, Danny L. Thomas, M.Div. works hard developing our spiritual health and fitness, and through this new opportunity, we will work hard to improve our physical health. Our new health ministry will be funded to host weekly Zumba and Pilates classes by professional instructors.  Children will have the opportunity to exercise using an Xbox Kinect while their parents are exercising in their classes.  We are still in need of Adult Supervisory volunteers/unpaid servants who are Safe Sanctuary certified. Twice a month we will have  health instruction by a Certified Health Instructor and informed lay leaders, using the Faithful Families curriculum.  Through this grant, we are able to employ bilingual members of the community as  co-leaders to help assure that the important health information is heard and understood by our Spanish-speaking community members who attend the classes.

Fisher House, Inc., a non profit operating out of our church space, will be assisting us in our delivery of new health initiatives by offering instructions on healthy  meal preparation and healthier meal options.  This spring, as part of our grant initiative they will also teach anyone interested about container gardening.  People in the community we serve will be able to learn how to grow their own vegetables.  Participants are welcome to take their container garden to their homes and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  However, some may  opt to let their container gardens remain in our church yard where they can care for them throughout the week.  In addition, other container gardens will be delivered to the sick and shut in from our community.  Fisher House will grow vegetables to share at the meals they serve as a part of our Food Pantry.

We were excited to read this about the program in the Hamilton Pulse article:  “I was more than happy to recommend that New Covenant United Methodist Church receive the Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More grant from the New Jersey Department of Health. It was very impressive that New Covenant was one of only four churches in our state to receive this grant,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “This grant money is well deserved, and I am excited to see these new and exciting exercise programs implemented in the church.” Read the full article here.

We will be advertising the classes throughout April and accepting registrations in preparation for our May start. We look forward to implementing these new and relevant programs to our community.  To learn more about For the Health of It! or volunteer to help, email:, call New Covenant UMC at 609-393-4725 or visit the website at

Heidi J. Smith, RN, MSN is Outreach Chairperson and grant manager for the For the Health of It! project at New Covenant UMC in Hamilton Township, New Jersey.