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Churches Serving Minorities Invited to Attend Health Ministry Institute

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Triad area churches that serve predominantly African-American, Asian or Hispanic congregations or communities are invited to attend a year-long Health Ministry Institute to learn how to develop programs to promote good health and disease prevention.

The Health Ministry Institute is a joint project of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the Shaw University Divinity School and is funded by the Winston-Salem Foundation.

Churches that want to learn more about the Health Ministry Institute are invited to an information session at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Northwest Area Health Education Center, Reynolda Business Center, 2400 Reynolda Road. For more information or to register, call Rachel Reynolds at 336-716-2184.

The Health Ministry Institute, which will begin in January 2006, will hold monthly sessions to teach participants how to establish health ministries or increase their effectiveness. Health ministries are programs designed to promote good health through such activities as health screenings and seminars. Institute participants will learn to conduct health assessments of their congregations to identify prevalent health problems.

The sessions are free to participating churches, but representatives must attend the Dec. 1 information session to register.

The institute focuses on churches that serve minorities because these populations often have a disproportionate share of health problems. For example, black infants are two to three times more likely to die during their first year than white infants. Blacks are also more likely to die from breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer and diabetes than whites. In addition, blacks often have more risk factors for disease than whites. An estimated 80 percent of black women are overweight or obese, for example.

“The purpose of the institute is to address health disparities by engaging the faith community,” said Sharon Jackson, Ph.D. “We asked churches what we could do to address these issues and this is what they suggested. We believe the Health Ministry Institute is a way to get vital health information to populations that are often considered hard-to-reach.”

Each church can send two participants to the institute, and there is space for 25 churches to participate. Sessions will be led by Jackson, associate professor of public health sciences, Melicia Whitt-Glover, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health sciences, Jamehl Demons, M.D., a geriatrician – all with Wake Forest – and Moses Goldmon, Ed. D., assistant professor and director of community outreach at Shaw University.

The group will focus on presenting research-based health information in a way that is culturally sensitive and integrates biblical principles. The group has already conducted a pilot project that involved representatives from 12 churches who attended four Health Ministry Institute sessions.

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Media Contacts: Karen Richardson, krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, or Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, 336-716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,187 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.


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