Pleasant Street church in Worcester, Massachusetts, gave back to their neighbors during its annual Community Health Fair on August 4. The Health Ministries department hosted the event at nearby Elm Park. More than 50 people visited various information tables under white canopies to learn about the eight laws of health, as well as receive free clothes, school supplies, backpacks, and fresh produce.
The health fair was a coordinated effort with other church departments, including Adventist Community Services, Education, and Children’s Ministries. Church members supported the event by giving monetary contributions, donating backpacks, school supplies, and water, in addition to volunteering their time to staff the booths and assist with setting up and disassembling the staging area. “So many persons from our church were on board,” said Claudia Barrett, Health Ministries director. “Even with a lot of people [out of town], the Lord was good, and the hearts of our members were moved. It was awesome!”
The Elm Park area is a diverse community and draws people from many countries and cultures to the public park for play, fitness activities, or a leisurely stroll on one of the tree-lined paths. Most visitors to the health fair spoke English, but many came by whose first language was Spanish, Portuguese, Albanian, or Arabic. Two church members who are fluent in Spanish and Portuguese translated for those languages. For the other languages, staff members used hand gestures, photos, and even Google Translate to communicate with the attendees, so that no one would be left out from enjoying all the benefits of the health fair.
Attendees enjoyed learning about nutrition, the benefits of fresh air, sunlight, and water, including hydrotherapy techniques. Ernan Norman, Pleasant Street church pastor; Andrew Barrett, first elder; and member Michael Scott staffed the “Rest” and “Trust in God” table, where they connected and prayed with many visitors. A local church pastor who came to the table expressed a desire for Pastor Norman to provide Bible studies for him and his wife. “There were a lot of good, promising contacts,” said Norman. “Many people were open to prayer and trust in God, but this particular contact for Bible study is a very positive opportunity to study together that I look forward to.”
Visitors also came to receive blood pressure screening and engaged in fun exercise activities and games with church members. Curtis Moore, who works in physical therapy and is a personal trainer, taught many senior members of the community simple exercises to maintain flexibility and encourage movement. His mother, Rodlyn Moore, also led out in stretching and low-impact exercises. From the old to the young, to Muslim women in hijabs, and people with piercings and tattoos—everyone joined together laughing and moving to gospel music playing over the loud speaker as they stretched, moved, and exercised.
Although the turnout was smaller than what many might hope for, Barrett was not deterred. “It wasn’t big-big, but it was good enough. I saw so many people smiling; they were happy to get the prizes—and guess what? That’s what it’s all about: to reach those whom you can, plant the seeds, and wait for the Lord to give the increase.”
Communication department, Pleasant Street church