Attending First Saint John Cathedral can be a moving experience. It’s especially moving when Dr. Kendra Mayes leads the congregation in stretches, jumps, and Zumba routines once a month during the church’s Faith and Fitness Sundays.
It’s sometimes hard to keep up with Dr. Kendra Mayes. But she brings so much energy to First Saint John Cathedral that you can’t help but want to move along with her.
Kendra – or Dr. K as she is often called -- leads a health and wellness ministry at the church’s southeast Fort Worth location. Like her, the historic church is highly spirited and energetic, attracting 350 to 400 attendees each Sunday. On most of those days, the congregation is led by Bishop Kenneth Spears. But once a month, Kendra moves to the front of the pulpit before Bishop Spears and gets people up and out of the pews for Faith and Fitness Sundays. Members are encouraged to wear active wear while the worship band plays upbeat music and Kendra leads the congregation in aerobics. “It totally brings the body together and just creates this awesome synergy,” she said.
Kendra, who conducts fitness programs across the city through her company Kingdom Fitness, understands the impact of healthy eating and exercise. While pursuing her doctoral degree, she was surprised to learn from her doctor that she had gained 40 pounds, her blood pressure was elevated to dangerous levels, and that she’d require medicine to regulate it. That wake-up call ignited her commitment to fitness.
First Saint John’s leadership also firmly believes that one must be healthy in mind, soul, body, and spirit to receive everything that God has planned. Thus, Blue Zones Project was a natural fit for the church. It became a Blue Zones Project Faith-Based Organization in 2017. Faith and Fitness Sundays have been a huge success, with more than one third of the church actively participating each month. Kendra says participants burn an average of 300 calories during the worship workout.
Under Kendra’s direction, the church’s wellness committee also put other Blue Zones best practices in place. Healthier options are now provided during meals and refreshments, and fundraisers feature walkathons and healthy potlucks instead of candy and cookie-dough sales. Members also moved more naturally during a 10-week Walking Moai. Bishop Spears himself lost over 25 pounds and now uses his cane less often.
“Blue Zones Project is encouraging people to make healthy choices and to do it as a community,” said Kendra.