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More NC Churches Offer Refuge for Spirit – and Body

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A program organized by the North Carolina Council of Churches offers grants to qualifying churches that offer health and wellness programs to their communities. (Justin/Flickr)
A program organized by the North Carolina Council of Churches offers grants to qualifying churches that offer health and wellness programs to their communities. (Justin/Flickr)
May 23, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. – Growing numbers of North Carolina churches offer their congregations health and wellness resources, alongside spiritual guidance.

And beginning next week, a statewide program allows qualifying churches to apply for mini-grants to provide health related services to their communities.

"A church is often a hub of a community,” says Christine Pernell, program coordinator for Partners in Health and Wholeness, a program of the North Carolina Council of Churches. “We see that more and more often, that churches are not just open on Sunday morning, but they're open for support groups – for AA meetings, for Al-Anon, for exercise classes. Almost every community, whether rural or urban, has a church."

Since the grant program started four years ago, 500 grants have been distributed to churches across the state.

In order to qualify, churches must already be certified by the North Carolina Council of Churches as a Partners in Health and Wholeness congregation.

The grant application process is open from June 1-30.

In addition to churches being an ideal place to distribute health services and education to their community, Pernell says when people attend church, they're often open to knowledge and self-improvement.

"You're there, you're engaged, your mind and your heart is open to the message,” she explains. “And you're also part of that church community, but you have a larger connection as well to the communities that church serves."

Pernell says some of the types of programs open for grants include smoking cessation, weight loss, blood pressure screening, community gardens, food pantries and mental health programming.


Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC