Special to the Advocate
Efforts to improve the health of members of the Mississippi Conference have earned national recognition.
The conference and the Amazing Pace program were awarded a Healthy Future Champion Award by Acting Surgeon General, Adm. Steven K. Galson at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives on Oct. 22.
Galson presented the award to Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and to her assistant the Rev. Embra Jackson at the monthly Compassion In Action Roundtable in Washington, D. C., in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.
The Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives launched a series of monthly Compassion in Acton Roundtable meetings to highlight organizations, programs and policies that effectively address critical social needs in the country. The roundtables convene and facilitate discussion among policymakers, government officials, philanthropists, faith based and other community service providers around targeted issues.
The Mississippi Annual Conference was the only faith-based ministry highlighted by Galson in his remarks at the Washington roundtable. Galson highlighted the accomplishments of the conference in its journey to wellness since Ward became its episcopal Leader. He cited the listening sessions led by Ward upon her arrival and the altar call for wellness at the 2005 Annual Conference, the development of the conference wellness task force and the appointment of Jackson as the conference wellness staff person, the creation of many church and district health initiatives, etc. He also highlighted the introduction of the Amazing Pace walking program to the conference in June 2007 and the impact it has had on the health of the clergy and laity of the conference.
In addition to Ward and Jackson, the United Methodist church was represented by Dr. Gary Gunderson, senior vice president for health and welfare at Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis. Gunderson was a panelist at the roundtable.
“Methodist Healthcare and Amazing Pace were instrumental in our conference receiving this award. They recommended us and wrote letters of support on our behalf,” Ward said. “They are great partners in our efforts toward wellness. In addition we must thank Rev. Arthur Harper for meeting with Surgeon General Galson when he came to Mississippi last month. Rev. Harper was instrumental in making the surgeon general aware of our wellness journey.”