Moreland Moves (And Laughs, Smiles, Sweats, and Prays)


By Rev. Sean Kilpatrick

My life has been transformed by exercise. After experiencing some of the painfully obvious unhealthy tendencies of ministry and seminary, eight years ago I decided something must be done. To say I’ve taken exercise to an extreme would be an extreme understatement. To say that my life has been transformed by exercise would be even more of an understatement; but, I’d like to share with you something simple that you might want to try for yourself and maybe your community. 

Every Monday at 7:00 am folks from the town of Moreland gather at 16 Church Street. The routine goes something like this:

  • Circle up
  • Share our names
  • Get question of the day
  • Serenity prayer
  • Then, get the route

The route? Yes, this is a walking, jogging, and running group that meets every Monday morning to experience fellowship through movement. We call this "Moreland Moves."

We carry that question of the day with us as we partner up in 2s and 3s and proceed to walk, jog, or run our predetermined route throughout the town. Ideally we exercise with people we don’t live with or know. Even as we may be gasping for air through the thick blanket of humidity, our conversations meander through both the practical and humorous. What’s your favorite vacation? Mountains or the beach? What are you thankful for? What is your favorite memory of the place you call home? Is a hotdog a sandwich? 

The trek takes about 30 minutes, but with the conversation and good company it goes by faster than life seems to. We circle back up, share some of our conversations with the larger group, say the serenity prayer again, then depart to enter into the rest of our day. 

If it were just exercise, that would be the end of what I have to say, but remember, there’s people involved; and it’s people who always have a story to tell.

There are participants of all ages, but two young people stand out to me. In our group is a young boy who struggles with confidence. There are more than a few challenges in his life. The determination on his face says this is something he wants to do. I’ve reminded him on several occasions, whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right

A young girl bubbling with energy from every pore learns that girls can be great athletes. She's also learned about resilience. I shared with her one of my “child friendly” mantras that she could use when things get tough: I am strong. I am beautiful. I am feisty!

The stories of two others drives home a fact that I hope more people grow to know: Movement and exercise, fellowship and community, are important to everyone regardless of what stage of life they are in. It is one of the most diverse and inclusive activities we can be a part of. Movement and exercise can be done despite whatever internal or external excuse you can come up with.

Although every person is carrying a load called "life" with them every time they show up, two adults in particular remind me of just how good this cure called community and movement can be. 

For one group member, the walk is a time of health, wellness, and wholeness before their 9:00 am chemo treatment begins. For the other, the morning is the only time of the day when all of their faculties are present, because as the day continues a heavy fog of dementia will quickly roll into every part of life. 

After 30 minutes we return back to where we started. Sometimes with a story to tell, but always with the rest of the day to before us. We laugh, smile, sweat, and pray, sometimes unknowingly but always to a very real and known God in whom we all live, and MOVE, and have our being. 

Rev. Sean Kilpatrick is pastor of Moreland UMC, "a place where all can gather."