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“Here We Walk” Lenten Fitness Challenge Takes a Holistic Approach

Faith, fitness, and fun facts about Martin Luther: Trinity Lutheran Church, Mason City, Iowa, shares one way to practice healthy habits and teach about our church’s heritage.

Becky Elsbernd
Trinity Lutheran Church
Mason City, Iowa
January 2017

Trinity Lutheran Church has a long history of encouraging a wellness component to the Lenten season. In the past, we have included team challenges (where groups track exercise and bible study minutes), counted steps to walk around the world as a congregation, and made a virtual trek across the Holy Land. The congregation likes the motivation to become more physically active and the idea that we are all working toward the same goal. It is especially nice when our wellness component matches the congregation's theme for Lent so we are focusing on the same thing with our body, mind, and spirit. In this way, Lent becomes a truly holistic experience.

In 2017, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we decided to transport our virtual journey to Germany and learn about the significant places in the life of Martin Luther. Trinity followed “Here We Walk” as our Lenten fitness challenge. As Trinity’s Parish Nurse, I created a “Here We Walk” handout designed to be printed on one double-sided piece of paper. Each participant recorded their physical fitness activities during Lent and, as they tracked their progress, discovered interesting facts about Martin Luther's own life journey.

There are a variety of ways you could tailor the experience to your church. Here are just a few suggestions:

  1. Make a bulletin board of “Here We Walk” with the map and pictures of the cities along the way to encourage participation during Lent. Update the board throughout the season to indicate where participants should be in order to finish the journey in six weeks.
  2. Stay connected to participants by emailing “snapshots” or “postcards” from each of the cities along the way according to the 6-week/30 minutes a day timeline. You can use these images from the Religious Travel Planning Guide to create your email postcard.
  3. Share the cumulative results of your walk after the adventure is over. In my church, we took a group picture between worship services, and had a drawing for Luther-themed prizes (like books about Martin Luther, root beer, honey, water bottles, gummy worms, etc).
  4. Celebrate your congregation’s journey (perhaps with a meal of all things German)!

This submission describes a personal perspective and may or may not reflect the experience of others. Parish Nurse Becky Elsbernd encourages others to use or adapt her materials in their quest for faith and knowledge. For more information, contact her at Becky.Elsbernd@trinity-mc.org.

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