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Keywords:

  • church-based programs;
  • health promotion;
  • physical activity;
  • midlife women

Abstract Although not a new concept, church-based health promotion programs have yet to be widely researched. Few of the initial studies used randomized and controlled designs. Dissemination of study results has been sporadic, with findings often reported in church periodicals. A renewed interest in church-based health promotion programs (CBHPP) is emerging. The purpose of this article is to propose seven key elements found in a literature review to be beneficial in establishing church-based community health promotion programs that demonstrated desired health promotion outcomes. Based on the outcomes of successful CBHPP, the following key elements have been identified: partnerships, positive health values, availability of services, access to church facilities, community-focused interventions, health behavior change, and supportive social relationships. An example of one program that embodies these elements is presented. The Heart and Soul Program, designed to increase physical activity in midlife women to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease with advancing age, is discussed within the context of the elements for successful church-based programs. CBHPP have effectively promoted health behaviors within certain communities. To promote health and wellness in light of our diverse society and health needs, health promotion professionals and churches can be dynamic partners.