University of Washington School of Nursing: Moving Together in Faith and Health
Contact: Doris Boutain, PhD, RN
It's not widely known that churches have a long and rich history of social justice activism and community organizing for health. Many people of color or people earning low-wage incomes seek health support, advice, and resources from church institutions before or after consulting a health care provider. Churches are also highly influential in supporting spiritual and academic advancement of children and youth through a wide variety of church-sponsored programs. However, churches are often not directly engaged or funded to implement large-scale prevention projects to change environments and promote health in and around their facilities. Churches are vital institutions where preventative environments and policies can directly affect groups earning low-wage incomes or those who identify as people of color, especially African-Americans.
This project will bring influential church leaders together across Christian denominations through a thorough and inclusive community process to assess and improve the food, beverage and physical activity environments in Central and Southeast Seattle neighborhoods and in churches.
The six churches involved in this project are:
- First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church
- Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church
- Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
- Mount Zion Baptist Church
- New Direction Missionary Baptist Church
- Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Church pastors and ministry leaders, or church change teams, will build support for healthy eating and active living environments by developing and implementing policies. These policies will encourage nutritious snacks and meals, and increased opportunity for physical activity and play. Changes will benefit children, youth, adults and families. Church leaders will promote church changes and encourage neighborhood changes through social media and other media communication channels.
Hopes for the future
Six churches in Central and Southeast Seattle will expand their historical faith and health legacies to become institutions that model healthy eating and active living environments for children, youth, adults and families. Churches will also share their successes with other church and neighborhood leaders to encourage continued neighborhood change. Ultimately, churches will move together in faith and health to transform neighborhood environments into places where faith and health opportunities, nutritious foods, and physical activity are affordable and accessible to everyone.