Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, Sr. Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference
Photo right: Rev. Cynthia Abrams, Kristin Kumpf, Rev. Dr. Detra Bishop and Rebecca Cole began planning the recent health ministry training for Mississippi in January 2014.
Photo below, left: Bishop Swanson (seated) is joined by the Mississippi Annual Conference health care ministry.
Could Mississippi United Methodists be casting the vision for a healthier Mississippi?
This may be the case now that teams representing districts of the Mississippi Annual Conference have committed to improving and promoting healthier lifestyles in their churches and their communities. The teams (totaling 50 participants) recently gathered for the Transforming Communities through Health Care Ministry Training at Camp Wesley Pines in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Staff from the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) led them over three days in discussions on health care, even sharing tough truths around the church's role in nurturing unhealthy eating habits.
Transforming Communities through Health Care Ministry equips faith-based advocate teams for the incarnational work of health care justice in the community. Participants gain skills in health advocacy and community organizing that prepares them for motivating community leadership in building transformative health care ministries. The training also called for teams to complete an action plan that addressed local community needs.
Resident Bishop for the Mississippi Area of The United Methodist Church, Bishop James Swanson, Sr., joined the teams on the last day offering them encouraging advice to stay the course in opposition of the health ministry.
"Coca-Cola isn't going to be too happy about it, your body isn't going to be happy about you getting up doing exercise; take what you have learned here and serve well. You have got to keep moving," said Swanson, whose comments propelled great applause and shouts of affirmation from his audience.
The group ended their gathering by sealing their commitment to health care ministry with prayer over the action plans and communion.
The Rev. Cynthia Abrams, one of the GBCS facilitators, talked about her enthusiasm for the Mississippi Conference.
"You (the Mississippi Conference) have enriched us greatly. We came to train, but we have been blessed abundantly by your presence and your gifts and leadership as well," said Abrams.
She and the other GBCS staff Kristin Kumpf, Rebecca Cole and the Mississippi Conference's own Rev. Dr. Detra Bishop, will serve as technical support and advisors to the health care ministry teams.
"I feel like all of us who participated formed new friendships and really drew closer because we have one common goal of reaching people for Jesus Christ and improving their lives along the way," said Sandra Brown, a trainee from Columbus First UMC in Columbus, Mississippi.
Pictures from the training can be viewed on the Mississippi Conference Flickr page.