KOH2RVA: Day 79

Last week I had lunch at the Richmond Academy of Medicine.

It’s not the kind of place that usually comes to mind when you think of lunch, but it turned out to be perfect for what was on the agenda—making Richmond the healthiest city in America.

Dr. Terry Whipple, who founded the Physician Within program at First Baptist Church, has bigger plans. He wants to see the program expand to other congregations in the city, to other neighborhoods, until everybody in Metropolitan Richmond “understands common health issues and adjusts their lifestyles for longer, safer, healthier existence.” He asked me to reach out to some of my fellow clergy and invite them to lunch, so he could tell them about the program first hand and invite them to participate.

If you’re not familiar with the Physician Within, take a moment to skim the video above, from a session called “Chest Pain: Is It My Heart?” You’ll see that it’s not a complicated concept: a respected cardiologist talking to lay people about heart health and how they can stay out of the emergency room. You can also see that a good many people were interested enough to come out on a Tuesday night and hear what he had to say. It didn’t hurt that the program was—and remains—absolutely free.

My colleagues were interested. They could see how welcome such a program would be in their own churches. But when Richard Szucs, president of the Academy and member of First Baptist Church, began to talk about the 1,700 medical professionals who are members of the Academy and how they might participate, we all began to see the potential. Hundreds of congregations, hundreds of medical professionals, coming together to make Richmond “the healthiest city in America.”

When Terry Whipple first said it I thought he was just being grandiose, but now I don’t think he was. I think he simply has Kingdom-sized dreams, and he’s waiting for the rest of us to catch up.  We took a small step forward last week.  Maybe, by the time this year-long, every-member mission trip is over, we will have taken giant strides toward that ambitious goal.


Please see my posts about churches working with hospitals to keep people healthy from Day 45 and Day 46.  It feels like momentum is building.

2 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 79

  1. Love it! I have enjoyed good health all of my life, but I worked for it! Not luck believe me, there are so many things you can do at any age. What you eat, your lifestyle, your faith, and definitely laughter (it really is good medicine!)

  2. One major problem that the Richmond area has is air quality and allergens in the air. When my wife and I first came here, back in ’79, we started to develop some allergy problems. We went to an allergist who told us that while some areas lay claim to being “Allergy Central”, he thought that Richmond actually IS “Allergy Central”. I know that this area is listed as being among the worst for allergies and asthma. I bear witness to that, personally. My PCP says that she gets a lot of patients coming here from other areas who say that they never had allergy and asthma problems elsewhere like they have had here. I don’t think that this has anything to do with global warming, however, I am not sure what is causing all the allergy and asthma problems. Perhaps First Baptist could join with the related associations and help look into this problem as well as work out ways to help people afflicted with it. That would certainly be a “Kingdom sized dream”! I know I’d be grateful! ;>

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