Faithful Families



What is Faithful Families?

Faithful Families has been accepted as a practice-tested intervention by the Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT) at UNC Chapel Hill. Faithful Families is a collaboration between the North Carolina Division of Public Health and Extension at North Carolina State University. As such, it is a part of North Carolina’s Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina movement.  is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.


Faithful Families Making a Difference at St. Stephen 

First Lady Viola Farmer, the wife of Pastor Robert Farmer of St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church, believes that knowledge is power. “It is so important that we are all learning how to take better care and make healthier choices,” she said. “Our body is what God has blessed us with and we know God is concerned about our whole body. In order to have a growing and thriving church – we need healthy people.”

St. Stephen MBC is one of 8 community churches participating in the Faithful Families Eat Smart, Move More initiative, facilitated by the Down East Partnership for Children (DEPC).

Each church follows a 9-week curriculum with a trained Faithful Families Facilitator and trained Lay Leaders that serve as health ambassadors in their faith communities.

Gwen Shaw, Graduate Community Fellow and member of St. Stephen partnered with DEPC to become the first Certified Faithful Families Consultant in our area and facilitated the 9-week curriculum at her church.  “They have been very faithful in coming each week to class,” Shaw said. “This lets me know they are concerned and care about their health.”

As a result, communities are making changes in their diets, exercising more and learning how to prepare healthier meals and make better choices. Some churches have also implemented policy changes to prepare healthier meals at church activities.

Many participants say they are learning how small choices can make a big impact on their health and well-being and that these changes can last a lifetime. Deacon Eddie Norfleet and his wife, Rosa, participated in St. Stephens’ Faithful Families and reported significant improvement in their overall health.

“After the first session, I realized that we were going to accomplish something here,” said Mr. Norfleet. “We took a closer look at what we were eating…the amount of salt and we changed some things we were eating on a regular basis. After a few weeks, I felt like I was younger and really see the positive side of keeping up a healthy lifestyle.”

Lay Leader Sister Arden Mitchell says she is learning a lot about how to eat and what to eat. She helps prepare and serve the food the class samples each week.

Sister Lisa Parker says they open class each week with something Biblical and related to healthy eating and moving more. “Class is inspiring,” she said. “I am much more confident about making good choices. The fellowship is wonderful.”

The St. Stephen group chose to meet on their regular Bible study night to make it easy for participants to add it to their schedules.

Faithful Families programs are currently setting goals and planning on ways to enhance policy, system and environments. Many of the groups have already implemented changes to the food the churches serve and incorporated more water into activities and events. Some have also began plans to create a walking trail on their church campuses to promote exercise.

If you or your church would like to participate in Faithful Families, please contact Viola Barnes-Gray, DEPC’s Ready Communities Coordinator at (252) 985-4300 Ext. 251 or Email