First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, holds its 25th annual health expo on June 2. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)

From the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, fitness guru Donna Richardson had everybody in the main sanctuary moving to the “Cupid Shuffle” line dance.

In the main hall of the Upper Marlboro, Maryland, church, vendors from state and county agencies were seated behind tables filled with pamphlets and brochures promoting health and wellness.

And behind a number of closed doors were physicians and medical students examining people for types of cancer, including prostate.

The occasion Saturday was Glenarden’s 25th annual health expo, and no one was happier than John K. Jenkins Sr., the church’s pastor, who hosted the event that has been a church staple for more than two decades.

First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, holds its 25th annual health expo on June 2. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)

“We are trying to help people live longer and better,” Jenkins said. “We have had people discover that they had cancer and because it was detected early enough, it prolonged their life, and we are grateful to God.”

Melissa Johnson, director of the church’s health ministry, wore a sparkling silver outfit in keeping with the theme of the health fair, “Bold Radiant Reflections of God.”

“Our theme is based on Luke 11:36,” Johnson said. “God’s light reflects on us and we reflect that light back to earth. We want everyone to come and see the light so that we can show God’s light to the world.”

The main level of the worship center was filled with an array of health-related events, while Richardson took to the pulpit of the main sanctuary to deliver a fire-and-brimstone speech on the importance of health.

“You have to make a commitment,” Richardson said. “How can you take care of business if you are sick in bed? Make a commitment to start. Isn’t gluttony a sin?”

Seated in front were Johnny Parker, director of the church’s men’s ministry, and his wife, Lezlyn, who spoke of how having a solid relationship has been beneficial for their overall health.

“I would have gone blind had it not been for my wife,” he said. “I was diagnosed because she encouraged me to get checked out and now I take my [eyedrops] every day.”

Mrs. Parker said of her husband, “He always encourages me. He gets me smoothies. He offers soft answers. It’s all about relationships.”

A number of professional counselors were also on hand, distributing material to address various behavioral disorders.

Meanwhile, Stanley Johnson, chief of the Prince George’s County division of the Maryland National Capital, took time out to be with his son, who operated a golf station to help young people understand the finer points of the game.

Kimberly Covington, who works as a nurse in the Prince George’s County Schools system, said events such as the expo are good for young people.

“It is so important to show them what they need to be and not just tell them,” Covington said. “Whether we are eating properly or living for Christ, it is about living your life holistically in the correct way.”

Lorie Powell, who is part of the church’s ministry to the poor, said that it is important to help people beyond the walls of the church.

“It is important to help those who can’t help themselves,” Powell said. “We meet every week and we make more than 240 lunches and then we distribute those lunches on the streets of southeast D.C.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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