During a global pandemic like this one, staying healthy is on everyone’s mind. Poor nutrition and unhealthy habits are even more dangerous than they’ve been in the past, with factors like diabetes and obesity increasing one’s risk for negative outcomes from COVID-19. There’s no better time to focus on what it means to be healthy—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Our SCC churches know this all too well. That’s why, during the past few months, many of our churches have hosted virtual health lectures, cooking demonstrations, and more.

While health ministry is deeply needed, it can’t continue like it once was. But that wasn’t a problem for the South Bay church. This church has always been active in health ministry, and the coronavirus wasn’t going to slow them down. Their Back to Basics program on Tuesdays has continued, just in a different format: now via Zoom. “We have been focusing largely for the last couple months on the amazing immune-boosting qualities of the NEWSTART program,” said John Jenson, pastor at the South Bay church. “It’s amazing.” They’ve since moved on to a study of the book How Not to Diet by Michael Gregor.

Because of the cooking demo, people are asking for the recipe. That gives us the opportunity to reach out to those people.

Marcy Rood

Educating and empowering the community is key. Community outreach has always been a priority for the Community Adventist Fellowship (CAF) church, and they haven’t stopped building community relationships in this virtual context. They’ve hosted virtual cooking classes with more than 60 attendees, many not from the church. “It was just amazing,” Marcy Rood, first elder at CAF, said of the July event. “Because of the cooking demo, people are asking for the recipe. That gives us the opportunity to reach out to those people.” The church also hosts a virtual health ministry program every Thursday, where different doctors speak.

Valley Crossroads church, too, has an ongoing cooking class every Wednesday at noon, which started during the pandemic. “I was looking for activities for our members amid the pandemic,” said Karen Spence, communication director at Valley Crossroads church. “It was initially scheduled to run for only a few months, but due to its popularity, I decided to let it run its course, and this is still going strong, praise God!” In each class, former Valley Crossroads church member Sherma Dafflitt, a national board-certified health and wellness coach who now lives in New York, teaches attendees to create wholesome vegan and vegetarian dishes.

These aren’t the only SCC churches that have been pursuing virtual health ministry in these critical times. At Chino Valley Chinese, for example, a virtual family cooking camp every Monday is a way to bring kids together, teach healthy habits, and minister to the community all at the same time. Paramount Spanish church has used Facebook Live to reach a larger audience with their health lectures, educating the Spanish-speaking community with immune-boosting tips.

In times like these, more people are interested in proper nutrition and healthy habits than ever. As uncertainty and fear around health outcomes rise, these churches continue to connect with a need that goes beyond their local communities—offering education, encouragement, and, most of all, hope.