The 2022 UPMC Weight Race is well underway, running from January 24 – April 15. As we push into the final weeks of this event, the Abundant Health Team shines a spotlight on one group that has found a way to incorporate health and wellness year-round. May this story encourage you to continue in abundantly healthy habits in the coming weeks and beyond.
David McCall serves as the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Somerset. He's part of a group of pastors in Somerset County who started the year with a fitness covenant, a continuation of a commitment to personal health they made several years ago. Rather than a new year’s resolution, McCall says this covenant offers them the opportunity to build relationships and focus on physical fitness to combat the new stressors brought upon them by the pandemic.
They started simply enough with a checkup and setting goals. Then they commit to a covenant partner and set their sights on specific healthy habits for the year.
Instead of just a focus on weight or minutes of exercise, McCall and the others in covenant recognize the importance of being centered spiritually and understanding, as Paul wrote in his first letter to church at Corinth, that "your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own ... Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20) Facilitating a healthy spirit includes being part of a community and sharing yourself with others in love, McCall said.
Everyone's goal is a little different, but creating and maintaining healthy habits is a consistent theme. A focus on a healthy mind might include mindful attention toward gratitude and joy, learning new things, and adequate sleep. Focus on a healthy body includes healthy nutrition and exercise based on personal need and ability, as well as preventative health care.
Over the years the covenant group has carried each other through challenging times, from surgical procedures and recovery to heavy times in ministry. Their relationships offer joyful banter and fellowship, support in ministry, witness to others at the gym (and beyond), and friendship.
Embracing God’s word in these health-focused covenants allowed them to continue remotely through COVID and, though getting older, they don’t plan to stop. In celebration of McCall’s 80th birthday, many gathered around him to sing while he spun away another mile on the stationary bike!