Marietta First United Methodist Church

The World Is Our Parish

By Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults

The latest County Health Rankings for the State of Georgia are out, and Cobb County ranks 7th out of 159 counties concerning the health of its residents. The data is collected in eight different categories: overall health outcomes, length of life, quality of life, overall health factors, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical health. While listening to this report on the radio, I was struck by the absence of any emotional or spiritual criteria for assessing general wellbeing. I suppose this data is lumped into “social factors”. Some of these categories seemed rather vague, and potentially redundant at first glance, however, particular measurements (taken collectively) such as the percentage of uninsured residents, the number of students receiving free school lunches, and the rate of pre-mature deaths can provide a snapshot of the overall health and wellbeing of a community. It certainly makes sense that access to educational and economic resources, to healthcare, and to recreational environments will have a dramatic impact on how long and how well people live. Yet, as I drove along, I pondered whether or not the number of churches in a given community had an impact on how long and how well people live. I thought about the ministries of this church which address quality of life issues within our community.  The community garden, . . . the backpacks. . . the food pantry . . .  the Good Samaritan hot meals offered each Thursday on our campus; all of these initiatives are efforts to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry. On Saturday, April 29 from 9:00 – noon, we will take this endeavor beyond the borders of Cobb County. John Wesley believed that the world is our parish, and we Methodists take that belief seriously. Won’t you join us for the Global Great Day of Service as we seek to pack hundreds of meals to be sent to Zambia under the Stop Hunger Now campaign? Come be a part of improving the quality of our own lives in fellowship with one another as we engage in mission to the world in order to help improve the quality of life for others.