According to the Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson, Stairstep president and CEO, the events that included everything from roller skating to track and field – coordinated by Melvin Anderson and Youth Determined To Succeed, 3-on-3 basketball, Double Dutch, a softball toss, hula-hoop and more, brought out more than 2,500 participants, representing nearly 30 area African-American churches.
“The Church Olympics is important because it’s an opportunity for African-American churches to compete with one another, celebrate and build trust that they might work together on all sorts of issues, be it education, economics, or in this case, health,” said Babington-Johnson.
As a warm up to the events of Olympics week, members of participating churches were involved in a six-week walking challenge to walk the equivalent distance of Minneapolis to Miami, or roughly 1,789 miles step by step.
Stairstep Foundation was founded in 1992 with a mission of promoting the spirit of community among African-Americans.
“One of the most important institutions for African-Americans is the church, so if we can promote collaboration by our churches we can take on the many challenges facing our community,” said Babington-Johnson.
S. Marie Graham, is one of the church health site coordinators for Stairstep, said the Church Olympics offered participants a unique opportunity for Christian Fellowship. A member of Macedonia Baptist Church, Graham earned medals in several events including the senior 100- and 200-meter dash and the hula-hoop.
“(Church Olympics) brings us closer together as a community,” said Graham. “It’s really exciting to fellowship with different churches we don’t normally have an opportunity to interact with.”
Graham said the mission of boosting wellness among African-Americans can often be better facilitated by events such as the Church Olympics and groups such as Stairstep.
“When the message is coming from people who look like us, it gets through a lot better,” said Graham, who said Stairstep also coordinates flu shot campaigns and offers classes on diabetes prevention and management. “The results are much greater.”
Some of the overall results during the 10th annual Church Olympics included all around winners, The Living Word Church. Others to medal were (in order of two through eight) were Progressive Baptist Church, Greater Friendship Baptist Church, Wayman AME, Macedonia Baptist Church, Shiloh Temple International Church PAW, He Is Risen COGIC and Fellowship MBC.
The 3-on-3 basketball championship was captured by Progressive Baptist Church.
For more information on Stairstep or the Church Olympics, individuals can call (612) 521-3110 or visit its website at www.stairstep.org.