Canon Noel Burke, Rector of St David’s Church in Barbados takes pride in the role of the faith community in challenging the epidemic of NCDs.
My name is Canon Noel Burke and I’m the Rector of St David’s in Barbados, Chairman of the Barbados Christian Council and a member of the National NCD Commission. I am also a Chaplain to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
There’s a great commitment in our church to helping the congregation get fitter and eat better. We have a healthy living section in the weekly bulletin and a health guild. Once a month, on a Saturday morning, we go on a walk.
Connection between spirituality and health
I often speak about the connection between spirituality and health, drawing attention to the theological notion that God Almighty cares about the whole person; about our immortal souls and our bodies. So we need to take care of them. We need to eat better, be active, reduce stress.
“God Almighty cares about the whole person; about our immortal souls and our bodies. So we need to take care of them. We need to eat better, be active, reduce stress.”
On a personal note, I take a brisk walk and jog every morning for an hour and do weight training twice a week. I’ve also taken part in a 5K fun run. I’d like to think I’ve become something of an example and that people associate me not only with liturgy and worship; but also with trying to be fit.
We are getting organised as a faith-based community. In 2014 all the major religions got together at a conference and issued the Bridgetown Declaration. It was agreed that we would use our spiritual resources and our influence to help prevent the rise of NCDs.
I am really proud and excited that religious leaders, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others, put doctrinal differences aside for the greater good. We have achieved something really, really unique in this country and we intend to build on that inter-religious cooperation for the better health of our nation both now and in the future.