Health is the gracious gift of God, but achieving and maintaining a healthful lifestyle isn’t easy. To help individuals take ownership of their health and integrate it within the context of faith, Adventist Health has partnered with local churches to introduce CREATION Health.
Pioneered at Florida Hospital in Orlando, CREATION Health is a faith-based wellness plan centered on eight biblical principles found in the creation story and supported by evidence-based science. By consistently practicing these eight principles — Choice, Rest, Environment, Activity, Trust, Interpersonal relationships, Outlook and Nutrition (CREATION) — participants improve their health, mind, body and spirit.
“We’re continuously looking at new ways of partnering with our churches to improve health,” says Paul Crampton, Adventist Health assistant vice president for mission and spiritual care. “We’d like to help churches become ‘wellness centers’ for their communities.”
To that end, Adventist Health sponsored education, training and resources in 2013 to help local faith leaders bring CREATION Health to their congregations and communities. Pastors and health ministries leaders from 10 churches in Oregon, Washington and California participated in two days of CREATION Health certification training in September 2013. The churches then piloted CREATION Health programs, with support from their local Adventist Health hospitals.
City Sanctuary, an Adventist urban mission in downtown Portland, Ore., was one of the pilot sites. With support from Adventist Medical Center in Portland, City Sanctuary presented CREATION Health in depth to a group of 25 people and on a broader basis to its congregation as a whole.
“The spectrum of people in the small group ran from high achievers to low-income, marginalized people because that’s who we work with downtown,” explains Dan George, City Sanctuary pastor. “It was a small group helping each other be accountable as they were learning and growing.”
George likened his presentation of CREATION Health to a 12-step program, in which each person worked at his or her own pace, deciding individually how much he or she was ready to change. George and volunteer coordinator Tom White presented CREATION Health to the small group during Sabbath School time, through lectures, DVDs and discussions. Then George preached each letter of CREATION to the entire congregation during Sabbath worship.
“CREATION Health is all about helping people make better choices,” says George. “It’s an extremely positive wellness program.”
To quantify CREATION Health’s impact on health, Adventist Health sponsored biometric screenings for participants at all 10 churches at the start of their programs and again six months later. The screenings measured cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. The results showed a 15 percent increase in overall wellness. “This is objective, scientific data that demonstrates CREATION Health positively impacts health,” Crampton says.
“Piloting the program was another way Adventist Health could partner with our churches to effectively meet the needs of the populations we serve together,” he continues. “CREATION Health is a lifestyle, preventive approach that we’re bringing to our local communities to help people adopt behaviors so they can live healthier longer.”
For more information on how your church can offer CREATION Health, contact your local conference health ministries department.