Get Your Walking Papers! The Challenge is On!
Kane District Superintendent Thomas Q. Strandburg holds the Golden Sneaker. Kane District won the award for the third time this year.
Some “Heavenly Bodies” provided the impetus for First UMC in Punxsutawney to propel the Indiana District into second place in the competition for the 2012 Golden Sneaker award.
Kane District won the Golden Sneaker for the third time with several of its congregation’s participating, but Punxy First’s effort was a singular sensation in the Indiana District.
In presenting the award at annual conference, Butler District Supt. Dean Ziegler noted the importance of maintaining healthy bodies. As he put it: That body you are in is going to have to last you the rest of your life. That is God’s truth! These bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and care of them is the worship of God.”
The Golden Sneaker Award is designed to encourage church members to take steps toward physical and spiritual health. The award each year goes to the district whose congregations log the most miles (or equivalent activity) in a variety of wholistic programs. Points are logged on the WPAUMC website. July 1 marks the start of a new year of Golden Sneaker competition.
Punxsutawney First UMC has a strong track record of encouraging holistic wellness. It began more than six years ago with “Heavenly Bodies,” a group of women of all ages who met once a week for six to eight weeks for prayer, devotions and aerobic exercise. Led by laity, the group was blessed so much by the program that in 2007, they began meeting from October through Easter, and later began getting together twice a week.
Last year Heavenly Bodies decided to get involved in the Golden Sneaker challenge, and the entire church adopted a plan which included a Journey to Bethlehem leading up to Christmas, a Journey to Jerusalem leading up to Easter and a “Clean-Up Campaign” leading up to Memorial Day.
Each week, everyone in the church got “Walking Papers” --cards with room on one side to record miles credited for exercise and walking and on the other a list of people, groups, ministries and events to pray for each day. Through the three programs, 76 other people joined the Heavenly Bodies group to accumulate 20,000 miles exercising and walking. Their effort alone put the Indiana District into second place in Golden Sneaker competition.
In July the church is borrowing from the Walk to Zimbabwe program developed by the Rev. Sarah Roncolato, pastor of Stone UMC in Meadville, to provide a book with facts about Nothing But Nets, Imagine No Malaria and mission/ministry opportunities in Zimbabwe, as well as areas for prayer focus each day. The booklet includes a place to record mileage daily and a cut-out slip to turn in weekly to report mileage for each individual and any friends who walk with them.
“Our hopes are great that more people and more churches in our area will participate to improve our health holistically in 2012 – 2013,” said one of the Heavenly Bodies.
In Kane District several churches have worked together and shared programs.
First UMC of Kane accumulated 1,311.2 miles toward the 2011-2012 Golden Sneaker Challenge through participation in The Road to Emmaus ELCA program during Lent. Nine members of the congregation followed the program, which has a guide for increasing physical well-being through gradually increasing daily walking distance and provides thought-provoking messages to reflect on emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, vocational and financial well-being. It truly is a wholeness campaign! One member, Michael Airgood, is serving as a missionary in the Ukraine, where he has to walk just about everywhere. He is the top Kane First walker at 254 miles.
Walkers from Trinity UMC in Clarendon and Benezette UM Church in Weedville used the information from Kane First to follow The Road to Emmaus program, also during Lent. They are all enthusiastic about continuing efforts toward the 2012-2013 Golden Sneaker Challenge.
Warren First and Evans Memorial UMCs did the same walking programs. More than 60 different people participated at Warren First in at least one of three walking challenges which were creatively written and included a spiritual dimension. About 40 did all three.
From July to September, the churches used A Walk in the Allegheny National Forest, written by Dara Sterling of Kane First. From September to December, it was a Walk to Bethlehem with Gaspar, written by the Rev. David Stains. From January to April, the groups used AWalk Through China with the 12 Disciples, also written by Stains, pastor of Evans Memorial.