By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND - St. Paul exhorted first century Christians to "Run in such a way that you may obtain (the prize)." While Paul wasn't speaking about physical races, Bill Smith said sadly few modern Christians are up to running a few blocks. In January he started the Lighthouse Church's Body, Mind, Spirit Club.
"The biggest sin in the church is gluttony, I think," he said, and added, "Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You feel better spirituality when your body is healthy and your mind is healthy."
Mr. Smith started the BMS Club in January shortly after Pastor Paul Bryan spoke about setting aims and goals. Mr. Smith approached the pastor about starting a weekly fellowship group centered around getting active, and publicly setting physical, mental and spiritual goals.
"I said, 'You know, I'd like to combine my Christianity with getting healthy with other people,'" he said.
Kelly Carey quickly joined the new group.
"I was very much overweight in January, about 80 pounds overweight," she said. "Now I'm only 55 pounds overweight. I've lost 25."
The BMS Club meets at Lake Beresford Park, 2100 Fatio Road, on Saturdays at 8 a.m. Members walk, bike, skate, or run on trails at the park for 45 minutes. Additionally, every week one of the attendees gives a short talk about ways to achieve physical, mental or spiritual goals, and members discuss their progress on reaching those they've set.
Mr. Smith, 64, has been a runner for about 25 years. When he was 40, a change in his life convinced him to get fit.
"I just got rid of my ice cream parlor; I was overweight and out of shape," he said.
Before long, Mr. Smith joined the Lake Monroe Roadkillers and headed to running events and races.
"You're not living if you're not challenging yourself mentally and physically," he said. "You're just existing if you don't set goals."
Ms. Carey said raising four children and working as a teacher distracted her from health and self-care. She said feeling too busy to prepare healthful dishes paved the way to frequent fast-food.
"You start eating all the wrong things even though you know all the right things," she said.
Additionally, she was exhorting her students to read, read, read. Yet, Ms. Carey felt too busy to read. No more, she said. Ms. Carey has started reading a book a month since joining the BMS Club. Additionally, she's revived her Bible studying with Beth Moore videos. She even got friends involved with that.
"About six or seven women would come to my house on Fridays for the videos," she said.
Ms. Carey said exercising regularly, losing weight, reading and advancing her Bible studies is a self-esteem booster.
"It has helped me feel good about myself," she said.
Mr. Smith said that about 15 to 20 folks would show up for the Saturday morning meetings. Attendance dropped off during the summer, but he expects it to pick up again in fall. Mr. Smith hopes to get about 50 people a week by the beginning of next year. While most of the attendees are members of the Lighthouse Church, Mr. Smith said he hopes others will join in.