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May 4, 2011

A healthy testimony from Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church

by Staff, Douglas County Health Department

Rev. Ralph B. Lassiter, Pastor, Mount Moriah Baptist Church, Omaha, Nebraska and Doris Lassiter, Health Ministry Director

Prior to our partnership with the Douglas County Live Well Omaha Initiative, Mount Moriah partnered with Alegent Health to do on-site vascular screenings. Screening were not only conducted of members of Mount Moriah but members of other churches and residents of the North Omaha community reaped the benefit of these free screenings as well. As a result of the screenings, some of Mt. Moriah members lives were saved because of early detection and follow-up treatment and surgery. This was a major wake up call to us and reminded us that faith-based organizations could indeed be a significant help in preventing deaths associated with chronic disease.

Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church entered into an agreement with Live Well Omaha Partners for Healthy City approximately seven months ago. We signed a letter of intent to establish written polices to promote health changes in our church and in our community. We were doing some congregational health education programs but no written church policies were established. Now we have written policies that promote:

(1) Healthy eating choices at functions held in our church. For instance we are implementing the following polices – instead of serving just fried chicken at our celebratory dinners we will offer healthier choices such as baked chicken, healthy greens, less sugar in punch and make water readily available. Also during breakfast meetings we will offer healthier choices of fruit and bagels.

(2) Physical Fitness. We do this through the YMCA – such as weekly Tai-Chi Fitness classes and collaborate with other churches such as Clair United Methodist in their annual stroke prevention walk. Our Deaconesses do on-site low impact exercises prior to their monthly meetings led by Sayde Montgomery.

(3) Promoting the prevention of chronic disease. We implement this policy by (1) Placing health educational articles in our Sunday church bulletins that deal with how we can prevent chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes. (2) We post reminder signs and posters and educational materials in our fellowship hall promoting the importance of eating healthy fruits and vegetables (3) Healthy cooking demonstrations are held quarterly (4) I or the Health Ministry Director will deliver a minute for your health presentation during Sunday worship services on issues that address racial and ethnic health disparities such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, etc.

We will continue to support our members by carrying out our church written policies that educate them on chronic disease, conducting healthy cooking demonstrations, conducting blood pressure checks, having partnerships with Live Well Omaha, Douglas County Health Department, YMCA , University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University Medical Center and Alegent Health. We will continue with our Body and Soul Health Program specifically designed for African American Church congregations but benefits everybody.

We know that children learn better in school when they eat nutritious healthy meals and exercise, employees have less absenteeism, and the churches have a significant role in keeping our community healthy.

Active Living, Clinical Care, Healthy Eating

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