The Charlotte, N.C., Berean Church health ministries team, under the leadership of nurse Deborah Johnson, wanted to do something different for the church’s 2018 health fair. They decided to send letters signed by Godwin Mitchell, Charlotte Berean pastor, to 38 churches of all denominations within the zip code, inviting them to join Berean in a community health event. The team then waited and prayed.
More than a month passed, and then Johnson received a call from the pastor of a local Presbyterian church interested in learning more. “That one call gave us encouragement that other denominations might be interested in what we had in mind,” Johnson said.
Armed with that encouragement, the team followed up the letters with phone calls and received more positive responses. Among the first to respond was Joanette Freeman, pastor of the Community Outreach Christian Ministry, a nearby non-denominational church. “When I received the letter, I wasn’t sure what to think, but I was excited about the idea of denominations working together. This kind of collaboration was out of the box and so refreshing,” Freeman commented.
Berean’s health team was soon holding planning meetings with members of various denominations to prepare for a “Community Health Explosion.”
“We asked those from the other denominations what health challenges their church and community were facing,” Johnson said, “and the topics that emerged were mental health, addictions, and opioids.” This resulted in the event theme, “Healthy Family, Happy Family.”
This health fair was unique for Berean due to several firsts — the first time Berean’s health fair was held over a five-day period, October 3-7, 2018; the first time members from seven denominations, along with two other Adventist churches, helped to plan and organize an event; and the first time some activities were hosted by other churches.
The opening night focused on healing broken relationships and understanding temperaments, with presentations by Michael Hall, counseling psychologist, and Gary James, pastor.
Thursday’s presentations, held at Joanette Freeman’s church, were on mental health and addictions. Kareem Puranda, therapist, shared experiences from his background in law enforcement. Clinical addictions specialist Steve Benson talked about the addiction cycle.
At Macedonia Baptist Church on Friday, October 5, Richard Berry, M.D., board certified internist and representative for the South Atlantic Conference Health Ministries Department, gave a fascinating presentation on changing bad habits.
The whole team convened at Community Outreach Christian Ministry, where more than 30 vendors conducted health screenings, provided counseling, distributed health-related information, and conducted demonstrations.
Sunday morning concluded Community Health Explosion with female health exams, prostate screenings, and private medical consultations with Berry.
Responses from the 300-plus event attendees were overwhelmingly positive. Bible studies, inquires about the church, literature distribution, and first-time visitors for Sabbath worship resulted. One visitor commented, “All of this was excellent for me. I plan to take control of my health instead of being indifferent. Please make this a yearly affair.” Charlotte Berean members plan to do just that!
South Atlantic | February 2019