ROANOKE, Ind. – Women of Seminary United Methodist Church in Roanoke, Ind., partnered on Saturday, April 24, with an area hospital to provide mammograms to women with and without health insurance as part of the denomination’s Change the World weekend.

The Women’s Health and Well-Being Outreach of the church was led by members Peggy Keller and Jo DeFord, who wanted to touch the lives of women by raising the awareness of health issues.

“I chose mammograms because I have had several family members that have had breast cancer,” Keller said in an interview at the church. “I have learned that early detection is very important for the survival of women who contract breast cancer.”

This was the church’s first health outreach to the small town (population 1,500) located 20 miles southwest of Fort Wayne.

Mobile Mammography

The 135-member congregation hosted Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography contained in a 40-foot-long coach parked at the church. The unit is part of the Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center of United Methodist-related Parkview Hospital based in Fort Wayne, Ind.

During its four-hour visit, 16 women were examined – one every 15 minutes.

“The mammograms are for women age 35 and older who have not had a mammogram in the past 12 months and who have no prior or current history of breast cancer,” said Keller.

Francine’s Friends ( is named for Francine Schubert, the wife of a Fort Wayne physician, who died as a result of breast cancer. The mobile unit was purchased and is maintained by a group of Fort Wayne area businesswomen and community leaders, whose mission is to make early detection of breast cancer available to every woman in the surrounding area.

In addition to the mammograms, the church also provided several tables filled with free literature collected by Keller on many aspects of women’s health.

Seminary’s pastor, the Rev. Kathleen Miller, said, “One of the reasons for an emphasis on health is the large number of older people in our congregation. As a congregation, we can teach each other.” She praised Keller for her initiative in beginning a community health outreach.

“When Peggy sets her mind on something, she accomplishes it,” said Miller.

Inspired by son

Keller said she was inspired to put on the health fair by her son, Nick Trentacosti, a respiratory therapist at United Methodist-related Clarian Health (hospital system) in Indianapolis. She said his interest is in tobacco issues and the harm smoking causes not only to individuals who smoke but their families as well. She would like to become more involved in tobacco free issues.

Even though she was disappointed by the small turnout because of rainy weather and two other area health fairs, Miller said, “This is a starting point.”

Both women were encouraged that all the appointments for the mammograms were filled. She looks forward to a continuing outreach on health-related issues.

This isn’t the first outreach to the church’s community. Last fall more than 400 area residents participated in the church’s annual festival that featured a car show at the church. Instead of selling the ice-cream, the church gave the ice cream away.

Miller sees community outreach as a way of growing the congregation. She said for United Methodist, health care issues are a natural, since John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was very interested in health issues in his time.

Keller said we look forward to more opportunities for outreach on health issues in the future. Many people have volunteered to speak on these issues.

While the emphasis was on women’s health on Seminary’s first floor, seven youths and their sponsors were on a 30-hour weekend food fast downstairs in the church’s fellowship hall calling attention to and raising money for world hunger issues.

Photo by Daniel R. Gangler

Member Peggy Keller and her pastor, the Rev. Kathy Miller, stand in front of the Parkview Hospital Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography unit outside Seminary United Methodist Church in Roanoke, Ind. Sixteen women benefited by the church’s April 24 community outreach.