CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Healthy Churches 2020 Conference is back in Charlotte. The organization "The Balm in Gilead" is hosting the event. Founder Pernessa Seele says she established the organization more than 30 years ago to educate people on the AIDS epidemic. Her mission continued when she says her calling was to educate black churches about how to care physically for their members.
"We believe in the power of prayer," Balm in Gilead Founder & CEO Pernessa Seele said. "We are rooted in the power of prayer. We are also rooted in the power of education and knowledge."
Ministers from all over are expected to come to Charlotte to learn about what more can be done in their churches. Seele believes preachers words make a difference.
“I believe the African Black churches still are our most influential institution own and operated by black people,” Seele said. “And we must get intentionally about being that hub for health promotion, disease prevention, disease management, and getting involved in clinical trials...The doctor can give it to you, but if the pastor touches it then, ‘Oh my goodness - Pastor gave me this stuff on cancer - I think I better read it.’”
Workshops include talks about asthma, diabetes, heart health, mental illness and other sicknesses.
“One of the topics this year that’s new is Amyloidosis”, Seele said. “Amyloidosis is a disease misdiagnosed that affects African Americans - it’s like sickle cell.”
This is the 6th Annual Healthy 2020 Churches Conference. Seele says there has been progress made. She says every week The Balm in Gilead issues a Sunday morning health corner writing that is sent to more than 40,000 churches. The piece has information churches can use.
“So that when Sis. Mary or Bro. John comes on Sunday morning and they are sitting in the pew at worship,” Seele said. “They may go into a diabetic coma - you will know what to do about it.”
The goal is after churches leave the conference, they will establish a health ministry. The health ministry can help give parishioners the information needed to live a more healthy life and it will assistance to church members who need it.
“Everybody has a role to play,” Seele said. “As basic as it is - does your transportation service ministry help those get to the clinic?”
The Healthy Churches 2020 Conference will attract actor Malik Yoba, philanthropist Cookie Johnson, wife of Magic Johnson, and award winning gospel artist Israel Houghton. The conference will return to Charlotte next year. Seele believes Charlotte has become the mecca of the South. She thinks this type of conference belongs in the South.
“It is the South that is the hot spot for African Americans and their health concerns,” Seele said. “The Bible Belt and the Black Belt of this country has the highest rate of high blood pressure, cancer, Alzheimer’s - you name it.”
For more on the conference click here