by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/new-resources-from-lets-move">Top 10 New Resources from Let's Move! (and Michelle Obama's Top 10 Fun Facts About Gardening)</a></h1>

NEHM's Top 10 Resources from Let's Move!

I think you will be excited to see these resources! I would like to especially call your attention to #2, #3, and #4 below. These are excellent resources, easy to use, and in exactly the right format for health ministries of all abilities. #3 is an excellent complement to our Backdoor Reading series, while #4 is a complete set of workshops, including activities and handouts. Please let me know your experience when using them and I will provide feedback to the Let's Move! campaign. 

  1. Register your congregation with the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative! Visit http://www.letsmove.gov/join-lets-move-faith-communities to become a Let’s Move Faith and Communities supporter! You’ll receive updates, news, be invited to participate in calls and webinars, have opportunities to share your story, get info about grant opportunities and more!

  2. Please read our MyPlate Community Toolkit for talking points and sound lifestyle guidance on healthy eating, active living, and weight management.

  3. ChooseMyPlate.gov has a terrific set of printable resources. The 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series is a wonderful complement to the Backdoor Readings offered on our site. 

  4. Eat Healthy Be Active Community Workshops curriculum, which compiles all of the agency expertise and federal guidelines on physical activity and diet into a single series of six one-hour workshops. These workshops also include a Certificate of Completion, which I heard in our meeting is a powerful incentive for people working to make positive changes. 

  5. The First Lady's staff has requested sermons, speeches, or articles that articulate the powerful connection between faith and lifestyle. Please email them to Matthew Ellis and he will forward them on to our contact there.

  6. Participate in Together We Can: Webinar for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (Next one is Wednesday, June 20 at 2 pm EDT)

  7. Participate in the Summer Food Service Program

  8. Download the Let’s Move Faith and Communities bullet insert to share with your congregation and community.

  9. Consider starting a community garden at your parish.

  10. Share the Let's Move Faith and Communities Toolkit with your health ministry cabinet or clergy.

Top 10 Fun Facts About Gardening

If you missed Michelle Obama giving the Top 10 List on David Letterman, it is a lot of fun. Don't miss #1 (although #7 is actually my favorite). 

(Sorry, the advertisement cannot be removed.)

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/children-need-to-live-the-lives">"Children need to live the lives for which they were created."</a></h1>

Children need to live the lives for which they were created.
-Rev. Eileen Lindner

Food is about love, caring, and sharing. It's also about helping those in need.
-Sam Kass, Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives

I don't usually get too worked up about meetings. There are a lot of them, for one thing. However, it's highly unusual that I need to submit extensive personal information for a background check and then submit to three different security screenings just to get into the building. This one was worth looking forward to, for many reasons. 

The invitation to meet with the First Lady's staff regarding the faith community's role in the Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity came as a result of my participation on the National Council of Churches Health Task Force. This is a wonderful way for me to stay connected with other faith leaders working on wellness and health issues in their respective denominations. The NCC Health Task Force was invited as part of a larger Faith United to End Childhood Obesity initiative. Many of the leaders of this group have also been instrumental in Faith United Against Tobacco and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, where NEHM has also been a longtime partner. 

We were welcomed by Jocelyn Frye from the Office of the First Lady. I was pleased to learn that Ms. Frye is a deacon in her own church. Ms. Frye indicated that Michelle Obama had become passionate about issues of health as a direct result of conversations with her pediatrician about her own children's health. She also noted that the "faith communities have the ability to impact fundamental change on a personal level."

One Action You Can Take Right Now:

Sign up as a Let's Move! Partner

Marissa Duswalt, Associate Director of Policy & Events at Let's Move! Office of the First Lady, facilitated further discussion, soliciting ideas from the group about potential programs that would be helpful to congregations and the best methods for sharing these ideas. Heidi Christenson of the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships shared new resources that have recently been developed for the faith-based and community leaders partnership. 

Sam Kass, Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, expressed his desire to engage faith communities at a deeper level on this important issue and pledged to help us find and develop models that would be useful for us. I think everyone in the room felt like this was an excellent beginning to developing a deeper relationship between faith communities and the Let's Move! campaign. 

There will be more to come in the future, but I am excited to share with you new resources that we were made aware of at the meeting. This was a really exciting affirmation of the good work that our parishes are doing around the country. Our ministry is so important to issues of food, exercise and health and these resources are a significant contribution to our efforts. Be sure to read this post for new resources for your health ministry!

Special thanks to Vinny DeMarco, Andrew Hysell, Rev. Eileen Lindner, the Let's Move! staff, and Save The Children for their roles in making this meeting happen!

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/nehm-visiting-the-white-house-this-week">NEHM visiting the White House this week!</a></h1>

In August 2010, we told you about St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Orlando, FL helping children get free sports physicals through the Be a Player program. In January 2011, NEHM highlighted the First Lady's launch of the Let's Move! toolkit for faith communities. The toolkit continues to be linked in our Resources section as well. 

NEHM is a member of the National Council of Churches Health Task Force and has partnered with many groups to help spotlight the Let's Move! campaign led by Michelle Obama. We're thrilled that NEHM CEO Matthew Ellis has been invited as a part of this group to participate in a meeting with other faith leaders and Mrs. Obama's staff to discuss new strategies for the Let's Move Campaign. The meeting will take place Thursday, May 31 at the White House or Executive Office Building. 

There will be much more to say about the meeting in coming weeks but this is such exciting news we wanted to share it with you now. In the meantime, check out success stories  and a bulletin insert from Communities on the Move! Stay tuned for more updates!

by The Rev. John Denson   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/a-memorial-day-reflection">A Memorial Day Reflection</a></h1>

Last week my son, Taylor, and I were downtown [Indianapolis]. For the first time since our move, we spent some time walking around the memorials, starting at Monument Circle and then working our way north to the Indiana War Memorial Plaza. We eventually wandered into the military museum, fascinated by this place we didn't even know existed (and it was free!).

At the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on the Circle I was struck by the numbers inscribed in the monument. For example, in the Civil War 210,407 Hoosiers served in Army and Navy. Of those, 24,416 were killed. This is out of a total population in Indiana of 1,350,428 in 1860. Over 15% of Hoosiers served in the war. Of those who served, over 11% lost their lives. Estimates of total deaths in the Civil War (north and south) range from 618,000 to 700,000. The magnitude of the losses is astounding, especially given our tolerance for war deaths over the past decade.

Memorial Day is upon us and, as you may know, it has little to do with the beginning of summer. While we may be focusing on the long weekend, cooking on the grill, the beginning of the summer worship schedule, and the Race, Memorial Day is a much more solemn occasion. The holiday was established to honor those who died in service to our nation. I believe - especially when we pray each Sunday for those who serve in the armed forces - that it is important that we mark Memorial Day and remember those who have given their lives for the freedom we so often take for granted.

And although this is not the original purpose of the holiday, perhaps we might remember those who have not died but have suffered for our nation. I think of those such as my nephew; he served in the Marines and now struggles with PTSD. He has, in a different way, given his life. Certainly, his life has been greatly altered.

Here is an old prayer that I find helpful as I anticipate this day of remembrance:

"Almighty and everlasting God, in whom all souls live now and evermore, the God not of the dead but of the living: We bless thee for all those who have faithfully lived and died in the service of their country. As we ever hold them in grateful remembrance, do thou in thy love and mercy let light perpetual shine upon them, and bring us all at last into thine eternal kingdom of peace; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen."

Perhaps, over this holiday weekend, each of us will find some moment to pray this prayer as we remember those who have given their lives to ensure that we live in freedom.

The Rev. John Denson, D. Min
Rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, IN
NEHM Board Member

Additional Resources:

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

A few notes from the conference:

  •  Overall Evaluation Score of Conference: 4.87 out of 5
  • 75 participants
  • Next year's conference dates have been announced! Plan now to join us May 9-11, 2013 at the Maritime Institute in Baltimore, MD!

Obviously, the high overall evaluation score is one indicator of the value felt by those attending the conference. We are grateful that the conference was such a joyful experience for so many. It's almost impossible to put into words the shared experience of the week, but I'd like to share with you a few comments from our participants:

The Veterans track along with the other workshops I attended made me realize that so many of us (humans) are suffering trauma.Not just from war, but also from everyday life and work.Not just physical but mental,and moral and spiritual. This conference has really made me contemplate how many of these "traumas" effect individual's health, lives, families and communities. How can we recognize it in our lives, congregations and those we serve. If we cant prevent it, how can we use the Spirit to help people, nurture healing and teach coping?

The greatest gift was the work of Edwina Gately and Scott Stoner in giving a very fine theological framework from which to do the healing ministries.


This NEHM conference was a transformative experience in my life and ministry. I can't thank you enough for all you did to organize the conference and make me feel welcome.

The thing that I love the most about these conferences is the community building and support and ideas we get for our local ministries. It is such a time of renewal and definitely falls into the category of "self care" for me, which I am notoriously bad at.

I have said over and over again, when I tell people of my experience, that I was spiritually fed from begining to end. I never felt that I did not belong although I am not clergy or in the medical field. The people were all so accepting and supporting. It was one of the best events I have ever attended. I am so thankful I was able to go. I plan on going to next years conference.


The [DeKoven] Center was almost magical in many ways. writing on the ribbons and hanging them on tree in the Bishop's garden was inspiring. having a chance to get chair massage was great. most of all I enjoyed being with everyone. the blessings of the hands was priceless and beautiful.

I re-learned the importance of the connection between Spiritual and Physical health in body and mind. As well as the huge importance of bringing the Spiritual Component into the lives of those providing care. Caring for others when your spiritual fuel tank is empty is not good for anyone.

I am starting a low maintenance parish nurse ministry at a small Episcopal church and I thought that Mr. Nickerson's session on Friday a.m. was fantastic. I enjoyed every break out session -- I learned something from them all!