The Rev. John Harmon said he considers the physical health of his congregation just as important as the spiritual health of his members at Mount Enon Baptist Church.
That's why his sermons include health topics once a month and the church is now offering its second monthly Healthcare Awareness seminar - Clearing the Air Tobacco Control for African-Americans - scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.
"Typically in a traditional church, we typically are concerned about the spiritual health of an individual," Harmon said. "Typically, we've only addressed it through the teaching ministry and the preaching ministry. A person's health is just as important. The Bible says - in fact, Psalms 23 says, 'He restoreth my soul.' ... That means we want to take care of the total individual, spiritually, mentally and physically."
The seminar, which is open to the public, is put on by the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer through the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Georgia Ethnic Health Network. The seminar is free and refreshments will be provided.
Though cancer death rates among blacks are dropping, they are still more likely to die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group, according to the American Cancer Society.
The reason for the gap, according to the cancer society, is because of a variety of factors including higher poverty rates, leading to lower-quality health care, among blacks. Lifestyle choices are a big factor, too. Smoking is more common among black men than white men, and obesity is more common among black women than white women, according to the cancer society.
In general, the society also found blacks are less physically active than whites.
"Eighty percent of the things we're having (health) problems with ... have nothing to do with health. It is our lifestyle," Harmon said, adding that healthier lifestyle choices can drastically lower cancer rates among blacks.
The church held its first health seminar for about 30 in attendance in late February. It focused on colon, rectal, prostate, cervical and breast cancers.
"Information is power," Harmon said. "We try to be an active part of this community to bring about a change and make a difference in people's lives."
For more information, call the church at 860-8565.
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