As pastor of Rose Hill Church of Port Allen, James Morrise often speaks to his faith-based community about maintaining a healthy spiritual life. In addition to sharing the word of Christ and encouraging congregants to emulate His example, he also works to educate them on the importance of maintaining good physical health and how it takes both physical and spiritual health to achieve overall well-being.
“As faith leaders, we should not only focus on the spiritual, but on the physical health of our congregations as well. It’s important to live a balanced life, and the Scriptures tell us that,” Pastor Morrise said. “We need to be healthy and take care of ourselves in order to carry out the good works we are called to do.”
In 2020, congregation member Myra Lowe, who is also one of the deputy assistant secretaries at the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health, approached Pastor Morrise and First Lady Treniece about Rosehill Church of Port Allen Youth Village Restoration Center becoming a WellSpot, and the idea instantly captured their interest.
For Pastor Morrise, one of the most important aspects of the WellSpot program is connecting church leaders and members of their congregation with educational resources about diabetes and heart disease. African Americans are at higher risk of developing these chronic illnesses than other ethnic groups. As the leader of his church, Pastor Morisse feels he has a responsibility to provide his congregation with access to the health information and resources they need.
The organization began the CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) in March 2020. This year-long lifestyle change program teaches participants about healthy behaviors and how to make behavior changes that can help them avoid or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Myra Lowe and Etha Lacour took the lifestyle coach training, and they worked together to organize and lead classes at Rose Hill Church. Over the course of the program, participants lost a collective 86 pounds!
After publishing the results in the church newsletter, other members within the church expressed interest in participating.
Now, the Rose Hill Wellness Committee, spearheaded by Myra and Etha, meets every Wednesday to decide on a wellness challenge for the week. Challenges range from increasing water intake to maintaining a calorie deficit or meeting a daily exercise goal. These challenges are a fun way for members to stay connected, encourage one another and celebrate wellness wins, Pastor Morrise said. As a faith-based organization, members of Rose Hill are called to uplift and encourage one another while also holding each other accountable. Pastor Morrise noted that is just as true for overall wellness as it is for spiritual health.
The Wellness Program has gained momentum as Rosehill Church progresses as a WellSpot. Currently, the faith-based organization is designated as a Level 2 WellSpot with several benchmarks in place like being a tobacco-free site, breastfeeding-friendly workplace and promoting self-assessment tools through programs like the National DPP.
“When you talk about health – that’s something we need to promote in every community,” Pastor Morrise said.
If you’re ready to improve the health of your faith-based organization, reach out to Well-Ahead Louisiana and we’ll help you get started! Learn more about the evidence-based benchmarks and how we’re working to move Louisiana’s health forward!