Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW), an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches, is designed to bridge issues of faith, health, and justice. We partner with faith communities to provide the necessary tools for healthy, whole, and abundant living. Through these spotlights, we will be sharing an overview of the programs and initiatives of some of our partner congregations doing great work. For more information on how to join the Collaborative, visit healthandwholeness.org.
ELIZABETH CITY, NC — Since 2011, Faith and Victory Christian Church (FVCC) has been promoting health and wholeness of the body, mind, and spirit. Sheila Perry, health-lead at Faith and Victory Christian Church, discussed how their health ministry started with just a small row of seeds: “We started the garden on a Sunday. Everyone in the church planted the seeds and we talked to the children to let them know what we were doing. When we took the little seedlings outside, they wanted to come out every day and see if they had grown!”
The health ministry at FVCC not only focuses on the promotion of nutrition and healthy eating among their congregation, but also throughout the community. Sheila explained that they were able to use their mini-grant from Partners in Health and Wholeness to expand the garden into a full community effort. She says, “we were able to purchase a sign that reads ‘Community Garden. All are Welcome!’ As people slowed-down to read the sign we gave them small bags of collards to take back to their places of work. Our name and information was on the bag, so people got to know what our ministries were all about.” FVCC was able to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden into their Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, providing healthier alternatives to most traditional holiday food.
The growth of the community garden at FVCC sparked an interest among congregants in fully embracing the union between health and faith. Sheila briefly discussed the growth of the health ministry beyond the garden as people got more interested in other aspects of health. She described how the church started inviting health care professionals to set up a health clinic in the church every fourth Sunday right after worship. The clinic provides free blood pressure checks to help people monitor their blood pressure regularly. It is also able to provide congregants with additional educational resources on a variety of health-related issues.
Along with their community garden and blood pressure clinics, FVCC has incorporated physical activity into their curriculum. Sheila described how the walking trail the church made on their campus not only improved physical health, but also mental health through providing a time of fellowship and support. She described how “people come to the trail to walk or ride their bike and end up doing it together. It gives people a chance to fellowship with one another and naturally the conversations seem to turn toward other ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Faith and Victory Christian Church has been a member of the PHW Collaborative since 2016. We have had the opportunity to provide funding to assist in development of their community garden and creation of the walking trail on the church property. Ms. Sheila Perry has graciously provided her contact information–please reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you Faith and Victory Christian Church for allowing us to be part of your health ministry’s journey!