by Annie Hardison-Moody
When two members of Mount Peace Baptist Church (Mount Peace) passed away from diseases related to cardiovascular issues, Pastor J. Vincent Terry knew he had to do something. Mount Peace had been on a path to wellness for several months, beginning with a small group of leaders who launched a research project to learn more about the effects of childhood obesity. These women leaders conducted a Photo Voice project to hear stories about the issue, and they began to work together to think about policy changes that could positively affect the congregation’s long-term health.
These two untimely deaths moved Pastor Terry and his congregation to address the spiritual and physical needs of the congregation – and so Work Out Worship (WOW) was born. Every third Sunday at Mount Peace, members are encouraged to wear their comfortable clothes and shoes so that they can move more during and after the service. During the Work Out Worship service, Pastor Terry or a health professional in the congregation (including doctors and nurses) provides a special message related to health. The music team chooses songs that incorporate movement, so that worshippers are able to be active during the worship service. The youth choir even performed some songs with movement during the kick-off event, held April 21st, 2013.
After service, those who wish to stay and walk the parking lot are invited to see how many laps they can take around the lot. The members at Mount Peace used a measuring wheel to find out that six laps around the lot is a mile. Faithful Families lay leader Linda Riggins said that people walk as far as they can, and some people did 15 or 16 laps on the first Sunday out. “It was a fun time to see everyone out there!” she recalled. One of the younger participants (10 years old) said, “I did not know it was so easy and so much fun to walk a mile and a half!”
Work Out Worship is now a policy at Mount Peace Baptist Church. Every third Sunday, members know to wear comfortable clothes and shoes so that they can be physically active during and after their worship time. Linda estimates that about 250 – 300 people attend each of three services at Mount Peace. She thinks that about half of those people stay after each service to walk. “It has been informative, educational and fun,” she says.
Mount Peace has also started a series of Faithful Families classes, and they have almost 15 people who are interested in taking the classes. They hope to have a second round of classes because there has been so much excitement for the program.
For those who want to participate, Linda had this to say: “Join us at 1601 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd every third Sunday for a moving message and fellowship walk after each service: 8:00, 10:00 and 11:59 AM.”
Look for more on Work Out Worship and the Faithful Families program there on our blog, where the EFNEP Program Assistant working with this congregation will share her thoughts and successes!
Does your congregation have a program or policy to make physical activity a part of your events and services? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page!