Obesity is a leading killer in the African American community. Churches all across the country are getting in the fight for health. They are offering dental care giving out health care kits and getting in the fight to save our families. One such church in the heart of the Delta has been fighting the good fight for over a decade. Now, he has the support of The National Baptist Convention.
For over a decade from his pulpit here at Oak Hill Baptist in North Mississippi, the Rev. Michael O. Minor has waged war against obesity and bad health. In the Delta this may seem akin to waging war against humidity, but Mr. Minor has the air of the salesman he once was, and the animated persistence to match.
Years into his war, he is beginning to claim victories. The National Baptist Convention, which represents some seven million people in nearly 10,000 churches, is ramping up a far-reaching health campaign devised by Mr. Minor, which aims to have a “health ambassador” in every member church by September 2012. The goals of the program, the most ambitious of its kind, will be demanding but concrete, said the Rev. George W. Waddles Sr., the president of the convention’s Congress of Christian Education.
The signs of change in the Delta may be most noticeable because they are the most hard-fought.
A sign in the kitchen of First Baptist Church in Clarksdale declares it a “No Fry Zone.” Bel Mount Missionary Baptist Church in the sleepy hamlet of Marks just had its first Taste Test Sunday, where the women of the church put out a spread of healthier foods, like sugar-free apple pie, to convince members that healthy cuisine does not have to taste like old tires.
Carved out of the fields behind Seek Well Baptist Church in the tiny town of Lula is a new community garden. The pastor, the Rev. Kevin Wiley, is even thinking about becoming a vegetarian, a sort of person he says he has never met in the Delta. Many pastors tell the same story: They started worrying about their own health, but were motivated to push their congregations by the campaign that began in Mr. Minor’s church.
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