Conference seeks to address health issues in the black church

Dr. Pernessa Seele

Conference seeks to address health issues in the black church
November 14
07:05 2019

The third week in November marks the sixth annual Healthy Churches 2020 conference. The conference, designed to bridge together medical professionals with spiritual leaders, hopes to bring awareness and solutions to the health issues that plague the black church.  

“It’s like being at a church convention that focuses on public health,” said founder and president of The Balm in Gilead, Inc., Dr. Pernessa Seele. Seele is also the organizer of the Healthy Churches 2020 conference. 

It was the work and focus of The Balm in Gilead, Inc. that led to the Healthy Churches 2020 conference.   

“Balm in Gilead, Inc. started over 30 years ago to address the issues of HIV and continues the fight today by tackling other health issues, like diabetes and cancer,” said Seele.  

The Balm in Gilead, Inc. builds and strengthens the capacity of faith communities in the United States and in the United Republic of Tanzania (East Africa) to deliver programs and services that contribute to the elimination of health disparities. The organization also develops educational and training programs specifically designed to establish sustainable, integrated systems of public health and faith principles, which helps to improve health outcomes of individuals living in urban, rural, and remote communities.

“In the black community, the most important people are the preacher and the doctor,” Seele said in an interview with The Chronicle. 

The goal of the four-day conference is to bring health of the body and spirit under one roof. It will consist of workshops, mobile clinics, informational booths and a concert featuring gospel recording artist Israel Houghton. Other well-known speakers and presenters include Cookie Johnson and Malik Yoba, famous for his role on New York Undercover. 

“It’s important to know what people should do when a person goes into diabetic shock in church. When they go back home to their respective congregations, they will have a link back to our resources,” concluded Seele.

The Healthy Churches 2020 conference will be held Nov.19-22 at the Sheraton Hotel, South McDowell Street, in Charlotte. Contact the Balm in Gilead directly to make a reservation. Keisha Curry at or 804-644-2256 can provide additional information. HC2020 group room rate still applies. To register for the conference, see

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Bridget Elam

Bridget Elam

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