Holistic Hope: Church Cultivates Culture of Physical, Spiritual Wellness
By Jaymie Dieterle
Shawndreka Watson’s passion for health and wellness comes from a personal place. As she walked through her own health challenges and made lifestyle changes for her own wellbeing, her passion and drive to share that journey with others grew. She told her husband, Pastor Todd Watson, that she thought their congregants could benefit from the things she had been learning. The Catherine Street First Church of God in Springfield, Ohio, launched their Health and Wellness Ministry in 2017, with Shawndreka serving as its health and wellness ministry coordinator.
The anchor event for the ministry each year is a Daniel Fast in January. “It’s the jewel of our ministry,” says Shawndreka. The Daniel Fast has an emphasis on eating only plant-based foods and drinking only water. It is based on two passages out of the Bible in the book of Daniel. (There are many books and websites detailing the intentions and restrictions of the fast.) Mrs. Watson said the fast develops a sense of community as congregation members share encouragement, testimonies, and recipes with one another. The church likes using this as an opportunity to start the year with a focus on spiritual health, as well as physical health, by turning their full attention to the Lord.
In addition to the annual Daniel Fast, each month the ministry highlights a different health emphasis such as heart disease, breast cancer, mental health, or diabetes. The church provides materials to members of the congregation through e-mails and texts. The ministry also maintains a Facebook page where materials are posted in order to reach a wider audience, including the community around the church. The ministry makes use of educational handouts, memes, and videos from national health organizations to teach the congregation about best practices and ways to improve or maintain their physical health. Their Facebook page also highlights the Watsons putting their words to action through pictures of runs and workout sessions, as well as personal testimonies about their health journey and short videos on the emphasis of the month.
Shawndreka is pleased the program is helping the congregation create a climate and culture of health and wellness. The church brought in a mobile mammogram unit to reach out to the community. They have been intentional about offering healthy snacks during their children’s events. And when they collect food to donate to meet the community’s needs, they emphasize healthy options. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the congregation’s Sunday services online, the church often shared health and wellness presentations during services. There were plans to grow the ministry to include speakers, a partnership with the local hospital, an aerobics class, and a walking ministry. Those plans are on hold until the church can safely meet again in person with their whole community. But for now, the ministry continues to challenge, coach, and encourage the community to practice daily healthy choices in order to improve health and wellness.
Jaymie Dieterle is a freelance writer with a passion for books, reading, and life-long learning. She enjoys writing adult small group and Sunday school curriculum for Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press). Jaymie and her family live in Anderson, Indiana, and they are actively involved at Madison Park Church of God.
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.