After the fourth death in a week, Keith Troy decided enough was enough.
Midway through Sunday services, he looked out at his congregation and asked all the men to rise. Then he asked: Would the deacons and associate ministers please assemble in the aisles with paper and pencil? Would every man write down his name and a phone number where he could be reached?
Too many church men were dying of preventable illnesses, Troy told the congregation at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, a mostly black church of about 4,500 members, including about 900 men.
Their pastor of 24 years issued a simple order: Every male congregant will see a doctor in the next three months. If they can't afford it, the church will help pay. If transportation is a problem, someone from the church will drive them.
"But one way or another," Troy said that Sunday in late November, "every man in this church will be checked out."
"Amen," parishioners responded. "Amen."
The last straw had come three days earlier when Roland Burks, 58, died of complications from diabetes and high blood pressure the day after he delivered Thanksgiving meals to the homeless.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
This is the Word of the Lord: Go to the Doctor
The message from one pastor to the men in his congregation: