Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

A Church Celebrates Health

Live Empowered community is invited to meet the first lady

Girls finish a circuit training class with smiles at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

One Florida church is taking serious steps to promote health in mind, body, and spirit, and soon it will be sharing that message with the nation. Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church of Eatonville, Fla., has been recognized by first lady Michelle Obama for its dedication to healthy living for all of its members.

Representatives of the church will meet with the first lady at the White House after winning top prize in her Let's Move! Communities on the Move Video Challenge, which focuses on ending childhood obesity.

But Macedonia church goes beyond kids and is encouraging the entire congregation to take steps toward good health. Tonja Williams, RN, the parish nurse, says healthy lifestyles begin in childhood, but everyone can adopt them, from youth to seniors. "We have a multigenerational approach," Williams says. "When you have the whole family unit striving for the same family goal, that's typically more effective and more sustainable."

In the church's winning video, dozens of children and adults can be seen working out, participating in dance classes, and cooking healthy foods. But the community's dedication to health goes further: It's also been involved with the American Diabetes Association's Live Empowered initiative. Workout classes, from Zumba to Fit With Faith, are part of what Pastor Willie Barnes calls "a wonderful ministry of fun."

"We all sweat in the spirit and just have a really good time," Williams says. "Everything can be modified for any fitness level, from beginner to advanced. Anybody can be comfortable."

Macedonia parishioners are getting healthier in other ways, too. The church is a founding member of Our Whole Community Garden, which focuses on "that wholeness from the earth," Williams says. The parish, working with other churches, local nurseries, and nursing homes, cultivates a garden and contributes part of the harvest to
local charities.

Pauline Lowe, director of the ADA's central and southwest Florida office, says the church is a great example of how a group can work together to get healthy. "I am so excited for them as they truly are leading the way with their health ministry," she says.

Williams says she's pleased that the church will continue its health outreach to parishioners and beyond. "I think the church is still that center for healing," she says. "It's that place [where people] feel safe. What did God say about taking care of the body-temple? We have a responsibility as Christians to do that."

To see Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church's winning Let's Move! video, visit


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