A New and Exciting Opportunity to Improve the Health of Church Members


 By Lee Burdine, Mississippi Conference Health and Wellness Coordinator

Mississippi has a crisis of poor health reaching all the way fromHealth Fairseniors to children. At least half of Mississippians with high blood pressure don't know they have it and the numbers are almost the same for diabetes. Thus, these conditions often first appear as medical emergencies like strokes and heart disease, rather than being prevented altogether. Mississippi Conference congregations have recognized the impact of care and concern local churches can have in the communities that they serve. Local health ministry programs have developed and continue to have positive results. We now have the opportunity to grow our mission further. The Mississippi Conference Health Ambassador program is pleased to announce a partnership for a new program with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, The Community Health Advocate training program (CHA). This program can provide a skill set for present health ministries and a starting place for those churches that want to establish one.  


What does a Mississippi Conference Health Ambassador do in my district?  


A Mississippi Conference Health Ambassador is a member of the Mississippi Conference UMC who has received training in basic community health screening and works in their Mississippi Conference District to promote and grow health and wellness activities in the communities that our churches serve. Ambassadors will have received training and certification as Community Health Advocates.


What kind of training is involved in becoming a Mississippi Conference Health Ambassador? You will learn resources and skills for health screening to be used in your congregations. Through a unique arrangement with the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Interested members of the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church can receive training and certification in the use of automated blood pressure and blood glucose measurement devices, calculation of body mass index, navigation of the health system and basic nutritional counseling. The specially designed  training is six hours.


There are five UMMC Community Health Advocate training events scheduled at The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.The 2013 training is scheduled for October 19 and November 16. For early 2014, training is scheduled for January 18, February 15 and March 15.


Each interested Mississippi Conference UMC congregation is encouraged to send lay members or health professionals from your congregation to one of these UMMC training dates to receive information and training on introducing Health Advocacy in your church and local community. Additionally, participants who become certified as Community Health Advocates will be invited to become Mississippi Conference Health Ambassador's. Working together from one church to the next we can have an impact on the health of our friends and neighbors where the Mississippi United Methodist churches serve.


To register for the University of Mississippi Health Advocacy training program please email: Lee@Lifebux.com or phone 1-800-748-9697 ext. 201.


To learn more about the UMMC Community Health Advocate training  follow this link.  


Resources for Local Health Events

Several Mississippi Conference districts have introduced health advocacy training and have implemented health ministries in their local areas that are making a significant impact. The University of Mississippi Medical Center offers Mississippi United Methodist congregations the opportunity to host local health fairs and similar events utilizing UMMC medical and other health professions students. After your church has a certified CHA in place, your local church will be encouraged to open your church facility as a local Health Education Center (HEC). Follow this link to learn more from the Greenwood District and how churches in the Greenwood District are utilizing their churches as a Mississippi Conference Health Education Center.  


Our Mississippi Conference congregations are natural providers of health screening and information in their local communities. The UMMC Community Health Advocate program is designed to provide skills to take blood pressure, determine blood glucose, measure BMI, provide basic dietary counseling and connect individuals who require a health provider but do not have one to a local health resource. It is not a program that delivers health care. It is a tool to provide health information and assistance to those who may not otherwise have it.


How to start or add to your local Church Health Ministries Programs:

  1. Form a health ministries team.
  2. Schedule and have your local church health ministries team leadership attend one of the UMMC Community Health Advocate (CHA) training events scheduled for the above dates.
  3. Consider identification of a space for health screening and information in your local church and promoting it in your local community as a Health Education Center (HEC)
  4. Schedule a UMMC/Mississippi Conference Health Fair or other health event in your local community after advocate training.
  5. Consider serving in your district as a district health ambassador, promoting and encouraging others throughout your district.

To register for the CHA training or if you have further questions on the Mississippi Conference Health Ministries programs please contact Lee Burdine, The Mississippi Conference Health and Wellness coordinator at Lee@Lifebux.com or phone 1-800-748-9697 ext. 201.


Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. -- Rev. John Wesley