The First Christian Church of Tahlequah, 746 S. Cedar St., has long promoted physical wellness, along with spiritual well-being, and now the church has that policy in writing.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Healthy Living Program of Cherokee County, which operates from the Cherokee County Health Services Council, recently helped First Christian Church craft and adopt a comprehensive wellness policy that encourages better nutrition and more physical activity for its members and visitors while ensuring a tobacco-free environment at the church.

The policy, which the church adopted on Oct. 25, exemplifies First Christian’s longtime commitment to health that stretches beyond its church walls.

“Pastor Darell Christopher has a strong passion to improve the lives of not only members of the congregation, but members of the community as well,” said Lindsey Durant, a TSET Healthy Living Program assistant coordinator for Cherokee County.

Christopher is aware of the local and national rise in obesity, and he said he wanted to help tackle the issue within the church by providing educational resources for nutrition.

The church houses several community health programs that include Weight Watchers meetings, yoga sessions, a “Blessings Table” of free non-perishable foods and a mobile food pantry. Pantry volunteers give tickets to reserve food on the second Tuesday of the month, and the food items are given out on the fourth Tuesday.

The church also supports the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, which offers free nonjudgmental resources and support for those wanting to quit tobacco.

“One of the most accurate statements I have heard is that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ and it will take a community to change the culture for healthier lifestyles,” Durant said. “It is heartwarming to see a congregation that would take its time to focus on the health of the community and advocate for the health of future generations to come.”

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