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A nurse is part of a circuit of professionals helping students.

Students meet with a nurse, nutritionist, financial planner.

November 2017 – Students in a womanist studies class at Drew Theological School learned about wellness from outside experts that included a nurse, nutritionist, financial planner, dance instructor and massage therapist.

“Part of my approach is that there is no separation between the mind, body and spirit,” explained Professor Nancy Lynne Westfield, who teaches the course, which requires students to create a plan for self-care.

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The class requires planning for self-care.

Westfield, who’s also an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, added that by taking care of themselves, women affirm their value and push back against sexism and racism. Furthermore, developing healthy habits is an important lesson for the future clergy members she teaches because it will help them show congregants a healthier way of life.

The reading list for the course includes Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering by Rosemarie Freeney Harding, which describes the author’s fight for justice and healing.

“It’s not just about theory for us,” Westfield said. “It’s about, how do these theories take root in our lives and in our congregations?”

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A prayer dance inspired by Scripture

During the wellness session, the course’s five students took turns creating prayers through dance inspired by a favorite piece of Scripture. Alexandra Rosado, for example, chose Psalm 121, which says, “My help comes from the Lord.” Her arms sweeping gracefully upward, she was guided by dance instructor Eyesha Marable T’16.

Along with dance, students discussed money management, developed plans for exercising and choosing healthy foods and even got flu shots.

Alex Carney, who’s pursuing a master of divinity, described the experience as “such a good idea.” Clergy members, she noted, must learn to take care of themselves if they want to care for congregants.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” she said.