Getting fit is a good fit for Trinity Mennonite Church in Hillsboro, where physical fitness and spiritual fitness go hand-in-hand.
“We can’t be in ministry if we’re not healthy,” pastor Norma Duerksen said.
Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) could be the newest healthy addition at Trinity. An organizational meeting for the weight loss support program will be 5:30 p.m. July 28 at the church.
A health awareness group at the church had been working on weight concerns, Duerksen said. When she saw a notification that TOPS wanted to create a Hillsboro group, she thought it could be helpful.
“They said, ‘We don’t have a place. Can we do it at your place?’” Duerksen said. “I just walked right into that one.”
The invitation from Trinity was just what the group needed to move forward, TOPS area captain Monty Bednasek said.
Hillsboro once had a TOPS group, Bednasek said, and the organization is active in many surrounding communities, including Marion, where it has two groups.
“Hillsboro was sitting without one, and we thought we should see if there’s interest in starting a group,” he said.
TOPS isn’t just about weight loss and doesn’t push any “magic elixers,” Bednasek said. The focus is on healthy eating and establishing habits that are sustainable.
“We learn to eat real food and create a new lifestyle in a way that we can carry forward,” he said.
If there’s enough interest in the group, which is open to the public, it will be a good fit with Trinity’s ministry.
“I think it ties right in with how we take care of our spiritual side as well as our physical side,” Duerksen said. “You have to have one to do the other.”
Church member and retired registered nurse Arlene Hett took the initiative several years ago to implement a health component within Trinity’s ministry. TOPS emphasizes some of the same things the health awareness group did, she said.
“I’m kind of excited our church can be a place for those meetings,” Hett said.
The motivation for starting a health ministry came from her nursing experience.
“I saw many examples of poor lifestyle choices and the consequences of that kind of behavior,” she said.
Hett couldn’t find much information about health ministry when she called area churches, but she did find guidance online.
She distributes health information in church mailboxes. Topics include keeping healthy during flu season, benefits of exercise, and the effects of diet soda. Workshops also are part of health education at Trinity.
“We’ve had a series of classes through Greenhaw Pharmacy,” she said. “I’ve provided class on prediabetes, cholesterol, things of that nature.”
Hett provides blood pressure checks once a month after church, and arranges transportation for members to doctor appointments. She makes sure first aid kits are up to date and does home visits to check in on elderly members.
The church purchased with memorial funds an automated external defibrillator to use if someone attending an event at the church suffers cardiac arrest.
“We have an aging population, and the more our church is used for a variety of activities, it seems appropriate to have,” Hett said.
An exercise club works out to fitness videos Mondays and Wednesdays in the church basement. The group has four or five regular members, and others are welcome, she said, adding that it would be a good complement to TOPS.
The activities Hett undertakes in her health ministry have a common theme: personal responsibility for the physical gifts God has given.
“I’ve always felt we should be stewards of our bodies and health,” she said. “Keeping healthy is a responsibility to the bodies we’ve been given.”
More information about TOPS is available from Bendasek at (316) 755-1055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.