Staff walks its way to health, spiritual growth


By the Advocate

The phrase “Just Do It” became popular in a series of television ads that encouraged exercise.

During the Lenten season, the conference office staff began to live out the phrase by participating in a devotional and exercise program. The 40-day plan was a spiritual and walking journey produced by Healthbux. It encompassed daily devotional readings connected with particular Biblical journeys such as the 400-mile journey from Haran to Shechem in Canaan. The journeys were interactive.

A dinner to celebrate the conference staff’s participation in the Lenten Journey Program was held April 12. Embra Jackson and David Stotts, who helped coordinate the program, served as comically dressed servers as past of the celebration.

The program includes a walking component using a computerized pedometer.

“The pedometer was great. It was the first thing I reached for every morning when I got out of bed,” said Hayley Smith, who works in Finance and Administration. “It was an easy way to track my steps. I’ve found that it takes commitment and priority to achieve the recommended 10,000 steps a day.”

Steve Casteel, director of Connectional Ministries agreed. "The pedometer has helped me take walking breaks more and has helped keep me motivated by watching the download of steps and the weekly graph,” he said. “The staff competition was fun, too.”

“I was so involved wearing it that I forgot to take it off at bead time and slept in it,” said Cheryl Webb of Finance and Administration. “You wanted to see just how many steps you got in a day because you think you are active but not as much as you think.”

All staff members were divided into teams and competed based on greater number of steps taken, consistency, most improved, etc.

“We all were walking, exercising more, eating better and working on our spiritual growth,” said Smith, who led all conference staffers with 619 miles walked based on 2,000 steps per mile. “It was great being part of a team and working together to reach our goal.”

The winning team with more than 1,100 miles, included Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Donna White, Susan Weill and Jackson.

Most days staff members could be seen walking around the state Capitol.

“It was enjoyable to walk around the Capitol just to be out doors and enjoy Mother Nature and visit with others walking with you,” Webb said.

Many say they’ve seen the benefits of the program.

“I have received both spiritual and physical benefits from this program,” said Smith “The weekly devotions were inspiring and challenging. I have felt the peace and presence of God on my daily walks. Walking allowed me to spend more time with family and friends, reduced stress and overall made me feel good.”

Casteel was especially thankful for the program.  “As one who was recovering from heart surgery and charged with daily exercise, the program was a gift,” he said. “The pedometer was a visual reminder of the need to be active. The wonderful extra was the Bible walk that gave a scriptural framework to it all.”

The program has proven so successful that the conference insurance committee is considering adopting it as an incentive for clergy and their families who are part of the conference’s health insurance program. In addition it may be offered, at cost, to other clergy and their families. Plans are being developed to introduce the program to the members of this year’s Annual Conference.

Those interested in information about the program may contact Lee Burdine at 1-800-748-9697 ext 201. Burdine introduced the program to the conference. In addition Stotts or Jackson may be contacted at 601-354-0515,