History, Mission and Organization
An Example of What Happens when Leadership Believes in Health!
Alvin M. Kibble, President of the Allegheny East Conference in Pine Forge, Pennsylvania is putting his money where his mouth is by committing his conference to excellence in ministry for every dimension of the whole person-mental, physical, social, and spiritual.
During an October 26, 1993, press conference, Kibble presented the plan entitled, "Toward the Year 2000-Fit and Free!" to his conference team of pastors, educators, Bible instructors, office staff, parishioners and members of the press, a senator, a National Institutes of Health official, and other dignitaries.
Kibble then began working with Gwen Foster, the conference health ministries director, in planning probably the most unique camp meeting in church history to certify Allegheny East pastors and church members in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D. C., as Lifestyle Consultants, Specialists and Trainers-the three levels of Lifestyle certification offered through the conference.
Kibble and his conference team have taken seriously the counsel of Ellen White over 100 years ago, that pastors and churches should be involved in health outreach to the community. Kibble feels that it's time the conference leadership empowers every pastor and member to use this "right arm" of the message as a vital entering wedge. Through the health message many will be led to Christ. That's why their goal is that every church and company in the conference will become a church-based center for health ministry by the year 2000.
The week-long camp meeting was held in the summer of 1995 on the campus of Hampton University. Excitement ran high as 1200 began and completed their certification programs inspired by messages from such national figures as Dr. Lyn Behrens from Loma Linda University, Dr. Samuel DeShay, former General Conference Health Director, and Dr. DeWitt Williams, who is directing health ministries for the North American Division.
Lifestyle Specialist Certification (Level 2) was offered in three different areas:
The Vegetarian Cuisine Instructors class was offered by Dr. Bethany Jackson, former Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Andrews University; Natural Remedies and Hydrotherapy was taught by staff from Hartland Institute; and Dr. Richard Neil, former Chairman of the Department of Health Promotions at Loma Linda University, taught Stress Management. In addition, Gwen Foster offered the class, Training the Trainer, to certify individuals as Lifestyle Trainers (Level 3), empowering them to present health seminars in their local churches.
As these Lifestyle certified individuals begin working in their churches the focus will be on the African American community. Their goal is to promote health and disease prevention to reduce health risk behaviors associated with hypertension, diabetes, cancer, stroke, infant mortality, homicide, and AIDS.
Allegheny East is moving to be a health leader in the black community because they believe the religious community is the best group to deal with health issues and make a lasting difference in the lives of others.
Apparently word has already gotten out. Dr. Kay James, who was the State Health Commissioner of Virginia at the time, requested Allegheny East Conference provide this same training to empower and certify others in black communities.