Your Health 4-11-13: Clergy Wellness Initiative

When clergy answer the call to serve god...they understand they are on call 24--7.

But, who cares for the needs of the clergy?

ABC 33/40's Linda Mays looks at a first of a kind program in Alabama.

It's a clergy wellness program.

The clergy, including priests, pastors and rabbi's provides more than an enlightening message, prayer, blessings and counseling and comfort.

For many, like Reverend Steve Jones of Southside Baptist Church, their plates are full. It's like being on call 24 -7

{}Jones says, "On Monday I work on study . I work on homily, things for the week. On Wednesday I go to bible study I prepare for that on Tuesday, make hospital visitations in between. When a crisis comes up you stop what you're doing and we pick up and go

and do whatever needs to be done.

Pastor Eric Harris of Agape Worship Ministries says, "It's meeting after meeting, counseling session planning and developing programs developing services."

{}Clergy members leading healthy lives is the goal of the Saint Vincent's Clergy Wellness Initiative.

An ordain minister, Dr. Chastity McDavid of Saint Vincent's Health System, serves as the program's lead.

Also she's a health coach to the clergy.

Dr. McDavid says, "What we provide free health coaching, free personal training, they also get a free membership to our St. Vincent's fitness center."

{}And that's not all.

{}Rev. Steve Jones is one of 14 clergy who didn't hesitate to say yes to participate in the wellness program which kicked-off in October 2012.

Jones says, "I wanted someone to take care of me to say your blood pressure is up or you're not doing this, or you're doing that here's a way you can do something better. And also I wanted time for relaxation to where I wasn't thinking about other things , other than getting in shape working out. And it's worked. "

{}Jones, a heart attack survivor, uses water weights during water aerobics with another participant plus a personal trainer.

They also do kicking moves, as well.

{}The program is tailored to each participant personal goals and needs.

Dr. McDavid says, There's a greater need for one on one day to day kind of encouragement and motivation we try to do that. But, If all they really need is to be able to have that access to the fitness center that access to health information we try to go with that as well."

Father Alex Steinmiller is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey High School where he serves as a leading role model to 210 students.

Steinmiller says, "In one of our luncheons there was a focus on stress and I realized that like many ministers you are the targets of a lot of people's stress. But also you are a conveyor of stress to others, like my staff and so I found that this program helped me reduce stress."

Six months of consistent early morning exercise in the program and he's recharged.

Steinmiller says, "Mentally I feel sharp physically I feel better, I'm not tired in the afternoons as I used to be, so I eat a little better."

Access to exercise equipment has blessed Pastor Eric Harris who has lost about 20 pounds.

Harris says, "Just the thought of taking better care of yourself so you can do a better job of taking care of other people exercise being in good health helps that out for me."

Father Steinmiller says it even helps his spirituality.

Steinmiller says, "Our bodies are created by God and God expects us to treat our bodies pretty well, so I find this program is giving praise to God by saying, God I'm trying to have a good bod here."

Ok, that may come with the program.

McDavid says,"The greatest gift that you can give to your ministry is a whole and healthy you."

Also program leaders hope a message of health renewal and healthy lifestyle reaches the people they serve.