Churches strive for healthier members

Joan Reid, Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Granville County
Nov. 04, 2013 @ 10:55 AM

Everywhere you turn in the media, you hear about the need for Americans to be healthier.

Workplaces are using incentives and insurance premium pricing to encourage adoption of healthier lifestyles.

This is happening because chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S.

By 2030, medical costs associated with obesity are expected to be about $200 billion annually. In 2008, nearly half of all adults reported having at least one of six chronic illnesses — cardiovascular disease, cancer, COPD/asthma, diabetes or arthritis. These conditions are largely preventable.

Beyond the societal costs (medical, lost workplace productivity), there are the personal costs and inconveniences, such as, early death, being housebound, having to take costly medication, not feeling well or strong and frequent doctor visits.

While many Americans are aware of this crisis, changing the family and community environment is challenging.

Now, churches in Granville and Vance counties have an ally for doing just that. As its inaugural effort, the Granville-Vance Faith Initiative for Community Action (GVFICA) is addressing this issue through its Keys to Healthy Living Program implemented in participating churches.

Pastor support and forming and utilizing a health ministry team in participating churches are essential components of successful implementation.

Volunteer health ministers in each church are trained in a simple, yet effective strategy to encourage individual and church environment change.

To date, 22 health ministers in 13 churches have been trained. Each church received a Health Minister Manual containing materials to support implementation of the monthly challenges, which is the main activity of the program.

GVFICA’s goal is to have 50 churches in each county participating in the first year.

The Keys to Health Living Program was developed by the health promotion coordinator of the Granville-Vance District Health Department and the family & consumer sciences agent of the Granville County Extension Center.

GVFICA is a 501(c)3 organization that was started in 2012, pulling together clergy and lay leaders from both counties. It seeks to create a sustainable partnership across faith communities in Granville and Vance counties.

GVFICA’s goal is to address community challenges by reaching as many congregations as possible with empowering programs focused on health, education and community advancement.

Churches are invited to enroll in the Keys to Healthy Living Program as they are ready to do so. Pastors wishing for more information may contact the GVFICA coordinator, Blaire Benson, at (252) 436-1678 or