At the 142-year-old Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey, the 1,500-member congregation has learned that tending only to spiritual needs is not enough.
So, the predominantly Black church works together through its nonprofit Shiloh Community Development Corporation to address spiritual, physical and mental health, said the Rev. Darrell Armstrong, who leads the church and is executive director of the corporation.
“You don’t find in most schools of religion an intense focus on bridging religion and mental health,” said Armstrong, who arrived at Shiloh in 2000 and has a particular interest in strengthening family health. His mother was addicted to cocaine, and he spent most of his childhood in foster care or living with relatives in Los Angeles.
Armstrong, mindful of the effects of family disruption and dysfunction, is pursuing a doctorate in social work with a focus on developing trauma-informed, resilient houses of worship.
“If you don’t focus on this need, you can get caught up in the business of running the church and not healing the church.”
Family health programs are run through the Shiloh Community Development Corporation, which was a finalist for the American Heart Association’s Empowered to Serve Business Accelerator Faith-Based program that helps to fund faith institutions working to address social influences on health such as race bias, education, housing and access to healthy foods and health care.
Shiloh’s Healthy Women, Healthy Families program, for example, works in conjunction with a statewide initiative to improve maternal and infant health. It’s directed at women of childbearing age and their families and aims to also reduce racial, ethnic and economic disparities.
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SOURCE: HealthDay, Diane Daniel