Sandtown UMC celebrates shrinking members

6/7/2006

Special to the Advocate

Sandtown United Methodist Church has gotten smaller.

No, the church hasn’t lost any members, but a group of members has lost weight.

Some 30 members of the church, located near Philadelphia, lost 602 pounds during a nearly fourth-month effort to improve their spiritual and physical well being.

It all began in January when pastor the Rev. Jeff Switzer challenged the church to be fit. He wanted the church members held accountable for their physical well-being and having a daily devotional time. His idea was for sponsors to give money for each pound that was lost to help raise money for the church’s mission trip to Honduras in May and for the youth to make a trip to the Gulf Coast in May.

Switzer asked his wife Cindy Switzer to develop a plan. “I began to look around for materials that would teach us how to get in shape as well as give a biblical foundation for staying healthy,” Cindy Switzer said. “I found a program called Fit 4 Life. It has daily devotions as well as gives information on how to be fit.”

The program started Jan. 31, and about 30 people participated on a regular basis. Each week the group members would weigh in and go over the study for the previous week.

“I challenged the group each week to have a quiet time at least five times a week. We had testimonies from outside people who have lost a great amount of weight and a dietician to inform us on our diet and how to eat healthy,” Cindy Switzer said. “The owner from the local gym came one night to speak on exercise; and a nurse came and spoke on the topic of diabetes which affects so many Mississippians.”

The women exercise together on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. One woman said that she looks forward to each week has lost a total of 24 pounds. A man said he was thankful his wife did not get rid of suits that he had outgrown. Now, after losing 47 pounds, he can fit into them.

The program officially ended May 16, but Cindy Switzer said the group plans to continue the exercise and spiritual accountability.