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GuideStone & LifeWay lead walk for wellness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources sponsored its third annual Living@YourBest wellness walk/run June 21 in downtown Nashville, Tenn. More than 700 messengers in town for the first of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and employees of Southern Baptist organizations in the Nashville area registered to walk or run the one-mile or 5K course.

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins welcomed runners and walkers and led in an opening prayer.

“We are here this morning to make a great statement about our commission to treat the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “We want Southern Baptists to know that we are serious about wellness.”

Hawkins told participants that the highest numbers of medical claims for GuideStone’s health plans were related to diseases and conditions that are considered to be preventable with proper diet and exercise.

“Pastors need to understand that they can do better in their ministries if they take care of themselves physically,” he said.

LifeWay Christian Resources co-sponsored the Living@YourBest wellness walk along with several vendors who provide services for GuideStone’s life and health programs. Before the walk, Doug Day, GuideStone executive officer, thanked LifeWay and the vendors who helped sponsor the walk.

“LifeWay Christian Resources joined GuideStone to make this event possible,” Day said. “We just want to say ‘thank you’ to LifeWay and our vendors for providing resources and especially for providing volunteers to help organize the event.”

Larry Yarborough, senior manager of Training and Development for LifeWay, provided coordination for the walk from Nashville.

“LifeWay believes strongly in wellness and care of the body as a holy temple,” he said. “It’s important to us to assist our employees in finding ways to stay healthy.”

Yarborough also thanked the Nashville Striders, a local running club, for their help in organizing the event.

At 6:15 a.m., GuideStone employee Dixie Beard led participants in a short warm-up stretch before 5K runners set out, followed by 5K walkers, then one mile walkers and runners.

Peter Pressman of the Nashville Striders led participants on a scenic course around the Country Music Hall of Fame Park and across the pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River. For 5K participants, the course continued around the Coliseum and back across the bridge before returning to the park.

Wellness walk participants ranged from trained runners to families with young children to two participants in wheel chairs and the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Richard Land.

After the race, Land said he believes Christians need to be spiritually and physically fit.

“We have a stewardship responsibility to take care of our body and our health, as we have a stewardship responsibility to use properly the gifts of ministry God has given each of us,” Land said. “I am more grateful than I can say that God has blessed me with good health.”

Land said in spite of traveling, he tries to stick to a regular routine of running 4-5 miles on a treadmill about 4-5 times a week while watching Fox News Channel.

“I’ve decided to follow Nike’s advice and ‘just do it’ when it comes to my physical health,” Land said.

One of the oldest walkers, 77-year-old Venia Lazenby, who described herself as “a busy senior who serves the Lord mightily,” completed the 5K course in just less than 55 minutes.

“God is moving in a mighty way,” said Lazenby, a member of Grace Baptist Church in Nashville. “He’s not through with me yet.”

After completing the walk, participants were served a healthful breakfast of bagels, bananas and orange juice before heading off to convention meetings.

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  • Wendy Ashley