Award Recipients will receive official recognition during the annual banquet


The Balm In Gilead, Inc. will present Best Practice Awards to nine congregational-based health ministries from across the country that are raising the bar to improve the health of African Americans within their congregations and communities.

Additionally, VillageHeartbeat, a North Carolina-based organization, will receive The Balm In Gilead’s Best Practice Award for Engaging African American Congregations in Addressing Health Disparities. Cheryl S. Emanuel, MS, CSAPC, leads VillageHeartbeat. The organization’s 2019 Life Achievement Award will be bestowed upon Geneticist Georgia M. Dunston, PhD, retired professor of human immunogenetics at Howard University and founding director of the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. All honorees will receive special recognition during the 6th Annual Healthy Churches National Conference Awards Dinner.

The Healthy Churches 2020 Conference is expected to attract more than 500 faith and public health influencers Nov. 19-22 in Charlotte, NC at the downtown Sheraton Hotel. The awards dinner, featuring Grammy Award Winning Singer and Songwriter Israel Houghton, takes place the evening of Nov. 21. More than 30 churches and organizations nationwide were nominated for The Balm In Gilead’s Best Practice award, which is designed to recognize extraordinary faith-based partnerships, health outreach and services within rural and urban African American communities.

“The Best Practice Award is the foundational essence of our work,” said Dr. Pernessa C. Seele, founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc. “These congregations and organizations are beacons of light and hope, proactively working to bring the latest health solutions to communities they serve.

This 4-day conference is the only national forum of its kind to bridge faith and public health. The conference’s primary objective is to strengthen the skills and leadership capacity of pastors and congregation members who work within church health ministries, and auxiliaries including the kitchen/culinary teams, ministry nursing units, transportation teams, deacon and missionary groups and other outreach ministerial programs.

Congregations receiving The 2019 Best Practice Awardees are:

  • Turner Memorial AME Church, Hyattsville, Md. (Dr. D.K. Kearney)
  • Central Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Hilton Head, S.C. (Rev. Louis Johnson)
  • Faith Community Baptist Church, Richmond, Va. (Rev. Dr. Patricia Gould-Champ)
  • New Mount Olive Baptist Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Dr. Marcus Davidson)
  • Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Conn. (Dr. Kelcy Steele)
  • Beebe Memorial CME Cathedral, Oakland, Calif. (Dr. Charles Hames, Jr.)
  • Ebenezer Baptist Church, Staunton, Va. (Dr. Michael Turner)
  • Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Dorchester, Mass. (Rev. Omar G. Jarvis)
  • Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral, New Orleans, La. (Dr. Darryl Brister)

Annually, the Healthy Churches 2020 conference speaker roster includes nationally-renowned faith and public health leaders. This year’s line-up includes author and philanthropist Cookie Johnson; Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, Duke University Medical Center; Bishop James Walker, Sr., The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Shane Scott, the historic Los Angeles-based Macedonia Baptist Church; Dr. Fatima Stanford, Harvard Medical Center; Joyce (Joy) Balls-Berry, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science; Bishop Horace E. Smith, MD, Apostolic Faith Church Chicago; Rev. Dr. Khaalida T. Forbes, Metamorphosis Enterprises; Rev. Paul Abernathy, FOCUS Pittsburgh; Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems, Biblical Scholar, and many more.