Wellness, Wholeness Emphases Establish New Community Connections
By Carl Stagner
The danger of neglecting body, mind, and soul have rarely been so apparent. In a time when physical, mental, and spiritual health have been assaulted by the coronavirus and the fallout of a society’s response, holistic wellness is proving an application of, and an avenue for, the gospel. A recent wellness fair at Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, is one example of how God’s people are proactively addressing these and other needs of their surrounding community.
The idea came about as a natural expression of the church’s yearlong emphasis on whole-life wellness. “We know the pandemic has taken a toll on people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health,” Pastor Melissa Pratt explains. “We wanted to create an event to address those felt community needs.”
On July 17, the church’s planning and preparation came to fruition as fifteen community wellness partners were on hand to provide awareness and administer checks and assistance on a variety of related topics. These included back-to-school vaccines, basic labs, addiction recovery support, breast cancer screening info, heart and diabetes nutrition, sugar and blood pressure checks, prescription discount groups, a dental group, and more. During the day, presentations were offered for the public, including a conference on women’s health by two gynecologists; a strength and stretching class by a local chiropractor; and a mental health first-aid class to address depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention. Before the day started, a 5K—benefiting ALS research—attracted fifty participants. To conclude the day, a children’s bicycle derby in the church parking lot promoted fun and safety by providing participants with free helmets.
Pastor Melissa Pratt reflects on the inaugural experience for Teays Valley Church of God. “Jesus met practical, everyday needs,” she says. “What’s more practical than people’s physical and mental health? Every community has resources that go underutilized simply due to a lack of awareness. I felt if we could pull wellness groups together, make their presence known, and give opportunity for people to access their resources, we would not only raise community awareness about what is available, but we could begin to help people to take proactive steps to address physical and mental health concerns as they begin. Often people are intimidated to call a doctor or to seek out mental health experts, but we made it easier by making it an entire event. In so doing, we could help people push past that initial hurdle of reaching out for help.”
About 175 people showed up for the event and, though it wasn’t as many as Pastor Melissa hoped, it was a tremendous crowd for a first attempt at something so important. Furthermore, the church’s wellness fair captured significant local media attention, further establishing Teays Valley Church of God as an essential resource for the public—not only for the soul, but for the body and mind, as well.
“Every community has organizations that are willing to partner with local churches,” Melissa concludes. “By coming together, we can offer a holistic approach to living well that I believe is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus cares about how we feel, what we need, how we parent, how our finances are used, how we invest our time, etc. The church must be in the proclamation business first, as the gospel is still Good News. But secondly, we must be in the restoration business, as we help rebuild families, point people to a redeemed future, and bring healing to them in every way it is needed.”
A continuation of this year’s emphasis in the months to come is expected to further position Teays Valley as a resource for wellness and wholeness.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: 5K participants at Teays Valley Church of God.