Grace Presbyterian Church Becomes Blue Zones Project Approved Faith-Based Community

by Jim Dittmann
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By: Leslie Covell Hershberger – Blue Zones Project / Dodge County

Blue Zones Project® Dodge County held a ribbon cutting celebration today at Grace Presbyterian Church in Beaver Dam to recognize the organization as the newest faith-based community to become Blue Zones Project Approved™. This designation demonstrates the commitment of Grace Presbyterian Church and its wellness team to improve the well-being of its congregationby focusing on physical well-being in addition to social and spiritual well-being.

Grace Presbyterian Church’s volunteer wellness team met regularly over several months to decide which well-being practices most appealed to their congregation. With deeply rooted community ties, the committee chose to focus on incorporating healthier food into events, increasing movement and social opportunities, and involving members of all ages.

Pat Kneser, an elder at Grace Presbyterian and member of the wellness team shared, “Partnering with Blue Zones Project Dodge County has helped members of Grace Church discover our purpose, zero in on what we are already doing well in the areas of spirituality, health and wellness, and focus on ways to improve our lives using the Power 9® principles. We’ve had so much fun discovering deeper connections with each other while worshipping, cooking and sharing healthier recipes, downshifting with the meditation group, enjoying our monthly Wine@5 gatherings, biking and walking together, participating in Vacation Bible School, volunteering with the Makers and Gracie’s Closet groups, and much more. This is such a wonderful springboard to better serving the members of our congregation. I’m excited for the next phase of this wellness group to include more areas of ministry.

Grace Presbyterian’s fellowship committee added healthy and nutritious food to regular weekly gatherings and special events. One of the most popular dishes offered was a rainbow vegetable tray which both looked and tasted great. The entire congregation was invited to share in a Plant Slant Potluck for Cinco de Mayo and Blue Zonesinspired recipes and dishes were shared. Grace Presbyterian also hosted one of the first Kitchen Coach Cooking Classes to experience preparing tasty dishes that participants brought home to enjoy with their family.

To nudge members to participate in more movement, a bike rack was added to the property at Grace Presbyterian and members partnered with other area churches for a bicycle ride event on the Wild Goose State Trail.

A Purpose Workshop was filled to capacity and members routinely use their gifts to volunteer in ways that benefit the faith community and the community at large through groups like The Makers and Gracie’s Closet. Other groups meet to connect socially at a local wine bar or downshift with the meditation group.

Grace Presbyterian continues to expand their well-being offerings. This summer’s Vacation Bible School included healthy snacks to teach some of the youngest members how to live longer, better. Following Sunday’s ribbon cutting ceremony a potluck picnic was held at Grace Presbyterian. This event offered family and friends at Grace an opportunity to deepen their sense of belonging in their faith community.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Pastor Chris Davis commented, As people of faith we are all called to care for God’s creation. That also means to care for ourselves as we are part of God’s creation. The Blue Zones Project group rekindled our vision of creating a wellness group. From this moment, we will address who are we, as a church, and howwe are going to care in many different ways for ourselves, for the congregation, for the world. I give thanks for the catalyst, the spark, that generated our being here this morning.


Brought to Dodge County by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, a member of Marshfield Clinic Healthy System, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, Blue Zones Project is a community-by-community well-being improvement initiative—designed to make healthy choices easier through sustainable changes to environment, policy, and social networks.

For details about becoming a Blue Zones Project Approved organization or general information about Blue Zones Project, Dodge County, call 920-392-9408, or

About Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc.

Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc. is a non-profit health care system whose mission is to deliver excellence across a continuum of services to patients in the region of Dodge, Columbia and Fond du Lac counties, Wisconsin. BDCH offers a comprehensive continuum of services to people of all ages, including primary and specialty care, obstetric and inpatient acute care, outpatient surgery and oncology services, emergency services, rehabilitation, independent and assisted living, home care, hospice, long-term care, wound care, urology, orthopedics and sports medicine, interventional radiology, occupational health, pain management, breast health services and women’s health, community education, sleep medicine, pharmaceuticals, and day care for children. For more information, visit

About Marshfield Clinic Health System

Marshfield Clinic Health System is a $2.4 billion integrated health system serving Wisconsin with about 10,000 employees including over 1,200 providers comprising 86 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. Primary operations include Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield Medical Center hospitals in Marshfield, Eau Claire, Neillsville, Rice Lake and Ladysmith, Marshfield Children’s Hospital, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Security Health Plan and Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation.

About Blue Zones Project

Blue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is based on research by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world—dubbed “blue zones—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 48 communities in 11 states have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3.3 million Americans nationwide. The movement includes two Health Districts in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth; Corry, Pennsylvania;and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is an exclusive partnership between Blue Zones, LLC and Sharecare, Inc. For more information, visit

About Sharecare

Sharecare is the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place. The Sharecare platform provides each person – no matter where they are in their health journey – with a comprehensive and personalized health profile, where they can dynamically and easily connect to the information, evidence-based programs, and health professionals they need to live their healthiest, happiest, and most productive life. With award-winning and innovative frictionless technologies, scientifically validated clinical protocols, and best-in-class coaching tools, Sharecare helps providers, employers, and health plans effectively scale outcomes-based health and wellness solutions across their entire populations. To learn more, visit

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