Sean Uses the Pulpit to Improve His Community’s Health

Feb 16 2023

Sean Dogan was 5 years old when he told his parents he was going to preach the Gospel when he grew up.

He was correct about his future being at the pulpit. However, he was not quite all the way grown-up when he delivered his first sermon, about Moses and the children of Israel at the Red Sea, at the age of 14. Today, Sean continues in the ministry and has been the pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church for 25 years.

However, it was an invitation to participate in a faith-based round table sponsored by United Way of Greenville County that led Sean to expand his life’s mission-driven work.

“I heard of the needs in the community and was able to see how different nonprofits really tackled social issues,” he recalls.

Sean remained involved with United Way, which led him to serving with numerous boards and organizations including Greenville Forward, LiveWell Greenville Leadership Team, Senior Action Board of Trustees, Generations Group, Pendleton Place for Children and Families, Public Education Partners, Civitan, UNCF Upstate, N.A.A.C.P. and the Urban League of the Upstate.

The disparities Sean witnessed in his community work began to also show him the disparities in health that were affecting his congregants.

“In my first 10 years pastoring at Long Branch I did more than 400 funerals,” he shares. “We’d finish a service and have a family meal. What were we serving at the family meal? It was like a lightbulb came on… fried chicken, macaroni, green beans, all these southern comfort foods. What we’re serving may have been the type of foods that contributed to this person’s health demise. So I thought, what can we do about this?”

Sean decided to lead by example. He brought a scale to the pulpit and asked his congregants to help him lose 10 pounds. “Walk with the Pastor” and other programs allowed him to help his congregants focus on their own health on a consistent basis.

“The message of health and the power of the pulpit with health-related topics became a passion of mine,” Sean explains.

As his church members joined him on his personal health journey, the parish began seeing diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues decline.

“We were known as the first Baptist Church to cut out fried chicken,” Sean laughs.

Sean joined our ministry in 2021 as director of community health. It was a natural progression that married his passions.

“Coming over to community health was a perfect marriage of how we lift these issues and work to help solve the problems,” Sean says.

That place where faith meets community has always been important to Sean. In fact, his major at Clemson University was human resources development.

“I’ve always been inspired by humans’ ability to change,” Sean adds.

Through his dual roles, Sean sees Black History Month as an opportunity to highlight the stories of church members as well as our ministry’s team members.

“There are known and unknown residents and individuals — local, state-wide and nationally — that have contributed to the success of our community,” Sean shares. “We all have something to contribute, and we all wish to be accepted as a positive contributing member of that community.”

He notes that Christ’s teachings serve as an example of how Black History Month can be an opportunity for those both in and outside of the Black community.

“We never see Christ shunning away individuals because they’re not like him,” Sean adds. “He highlights the beauty of the stranger, the beauty of the foreigner. When looking at everyone as the sons and daughters of God, we see how it encompasses all of us. When we receive that message, it will not just lift up Black history, but it will lift up all history, good and bad, and then it’s up to all of us how we reconcile that history and how we learn to move forward and progress.”

Read more Black History Month stories about our team members.

Also, learn about the health care services we provide at Bon Secours.

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