Minister who banned fried chicken in his church to speak at summit

Published 12:07 am Sunday, August 13, 2017


NATCHEZ — Can dropping fried chicken from a person’s diet make him or her a better Christian?

Judging by the work of the Rev. Michael Minor, the answer is “yes.”

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Dr. Minor is the pastor of Oak Hill Baptist Church in Hernando and will be the keynote speaker for Thursday’s Health and Faith ministerial summit in Natchez. The summit invites other ministers of the Miss-Lou to attend and learn about the importance of promoting health and wellness in their congregations.

For more than two decades, Minor has spoken on the importance of health and the role it plays in faith.

Health issues particularly plague Mississippi. The state has the nation’s second-highest rate adult obesity at 35.6 percent, as shown by CDC data. Adams County exceeds that with a rate of 41.6 percent, local health consultant Getty Israel has reported.

Seeing a need for change within his own congregation, Minor took a bold step in 2011 toward improving the health of his church members: he banned fried chicken outright.

While he said he received some blowback at first for eliminating a southern staple, Minor said his congregation eventually made the transition to better eating.

“A lot of people underestimate the power of a home-cooked meal,” Minor said.

Just the switch from fried chicken to grilled or baked chicken paid dividends. Minor said the congregation actually started to prefer the healthier styles of chicken because they were home-cooked, rather than store-bought like most of the fried chicken they had become accustomed to consuming.“It wasn’t as drastic as you would think,” Minor said. “Because I saw people using copper cleaner.”

That’s what Minor calls hot sauce, joking that you can clean pennies with it.

“We also started having salads, fruits and other things,” Minor said.

So what does a healthy lifestyle have to do with being a good Christian?

One reason, Minor said, is that poor health can cause people to miss church.

“If you have a lot of sick members, they’ll spend a lot of time in the hospital. That takes away from their service.”

Minor also noted that caregivers are also forced to miss church when so many members are in poor health.

For these reasons, Minor travels around the country to speak to other ministers and encourage them to adopt a focus on health within their ministries.

Thursday, Minor will encourage Miss-Lou ministers to do just that. He said he has a “lesson plan” that shows the link between health and faith, beginning with the scripture from the Old Testament.

“The outcome is that we have a mandate from God to make sure that we take care of ourselves — mind, body and spirit,” Minor said.

Minor said that adoption of this message takes patience and sustained effort to engrain. Even though he said the efforts in his local community of Hernando have been successful, the effects took hold gradually over a seven-year period.

“The problem we have in general is that we throw money at (the problem), the money runs out and then everything stops,” Minor said. “Once (health) becomes part of the DNA of the church’s ministry, then it can continue to go forward.”

Minor said the small churches, rather than larger congregations, are the ones he especially loves to visit.

“They’re the ones that make the biggest impact … they’re the ones on the forefront,” Minor said.

“They’re going to get excited because of the passion.”

Minor said he is excited to come share his message with Natchez, and stressed that only a few impassioned souls are needed to make a difference in the community.

“It’s never been about big numbers,” Minor said. “If you get a few committed members, you can get something and make it stick.”