Rev. Alma Coles Charles, Pastor
1483 Brunswick Drive
Meredithville, VA 23821
Meet the St. Paul AME Zion Church, founded over 113 years ago, under a bush arbor in Meredithville, Va., the county of Brunswick, off interstate 85 in Virginia. Under the bush arbor, the church was known as Claiborne Chapel. It went through a series of name changes before being admitted to the Virginia Annual Conference, Petersburg District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1912.
The church, family orientated, small in number, began to grow spiritually and the physical plant changed over the years. Fast forwarding, December 7, 2003, God sent a compassionate pastor, who had a heart for the people and Kingdom building , the Rev. Alma Coles Charles.
The paradigm shifted under her leadership and the church moved toward a holistic ministry approach (i.e. mind, body and spirit). We have been growing spiritually, daily, through the read, spoken and taught word. However, after a survey on health concerns, we determined we were physical wrecks.
As a result of the health survey provided by the American Heart Association, located in Richmond, Va., we began to include in our Men’s and Women’s conferences topics on breast cancer awareness, heart disease, Alzheimer disease, HIV, opioid use, health screenings and arthritis. Becoming part of the Balm in Gilead experience, we realized a need for some major life style changes to include exercise, eating and food preparation.
Members of the church family began to attend seminars/dinners sponsored by the Health Services Office at Virginia State University, which provided excellent and informative material on breast cancer, heart disease and healthy meals. The pastor put together a health challenge for congregants and members of the community which allowed them to work to help improve their vitals (i.e walk a mile at least three times a week, exercise for 30 minutes a day for at least three days a week and focus on loosing ten pounds within six months and keep it off).
The Balm in Gilead offered several informative sessions, which helped us to make healthy choices. Staff from the Balm came out and provided healthy cooking demonstrations, exercise programs and general guidance.
As a church family, we have tried to take the grease cooking out of our diets and not eat as many pig feet, chitterlings and fried chicken. Learning portion control and finding healthy recipes, has been a help in refocusing on making healthy choices. By accident, there was no fried chicken on the Homecoming menu this year. but it was okay.
We are a work in progress, so keep praying for us.