Home Body and Soul - Issue #76

Body and Soul - Issue #76

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"We all have challenges to body and soul. While we cannot control every factor in our lives, we can make choices that support health and move us closer to the abundant life God intends for us and all people." With these words, the Rev. Odette Lockwood-Stewart, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Berkeley, California, preached about stewardship of the gift of life, including our bodies and souls.

She then introduced a three-month congregational adventure with the following goals:

  1. Physical health awareness with positive support for healthy habits and choices;

  2. Spiritual renewal through prayer, meditation, study, and service;

  3. Nurture of mental health through reading and conversations; and

  4. Community growth by gathering, knowing, and praying for one another.

Eighty church members participated in small groups of six to eight people. Each small group developed a group covenant, and everyone tracked daily points for activities in each of the goal areas: drinking water, prayer and meditation, exercise, Bible reading, wellness, eating fruits and vegetables, and community and church involvement. Each individual also had a personal health goal. The small groups provided a confidential setting for support and accountability.

The small-group leaders submitted the combined points of the group each week. There was also a mid-program check-in event, a Saturday retreat, and a closing celebration.

Some Questions for Discussion

  • In what ways does your congregation offer support and accountability to encourage members to care for their bodies and souls?

  • What one idea from this ministry could you adopt or adapt for your congregation?

  • Are there already existing groups in the congregation that might benefit from adding an emphasis on personal stewardship of bodies and souls?

Betsy Schwarzentraub is the Director of Stewardship at the Discipleship Ministries. She can be reached at [email protected]. You can find out more about "Body and Soul" at www.epworthberkeley.org.

In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #74. © 2011 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.