Hardison-Moody A; Yao J
Faith communities are increasingly being recognized as important leaders in community health work, both in the United States and globally. However, faith communities are also often working at or beyond capacity in terms of meeting the social, emotional, and health needs of the communities they serve. To bridge these gaps and build on the significant assets that faith communities possess, the Faithful Families Thriving Communities program was created in 2007 as a partnership between the North Carolina Division of Public Health and North Carolina State University. Based on the social-ecological model, Faithful Families trains and empowers lay leaders from the faith community to coteach and partner with health educators from Cooperative Extension or public health as they support individual members and the faith community at large to adopt changes that can address inequities in their communities related to access to healthy foods and places to be active. This essay highlights the formation and development of this partnership, outlining challenges and best practices for this kind of "bridging" between public health and communities of faith, particularly related to state-level programmatic support and collaboration.