|The Parish Nurse Program
One of the health programs encouraged
by the United Church of Christ and the Committee on the Healing
Ministry of the Vt. Conference is the Parish Nurse program.
At the 21st General Synod in July 1997, a resolution was
passed to reclaim the church's ministry of health and healing.
It advocated developing a philosophy of health and wholeness
as part of the faith community's mission, designating a person
or a team to be concerned about health ministry, a commitment
to learning about health and wellness issues, Health education
and programming according to assessed health needs of the
congregation, and promotion of health and wellness celebrations.
"Be it resolved that the 21st general Synod encourages
local congregations to develop/include in their mission commitment
to health and wholeness, engage health and wholeness issues
through an ongoing health cabinet/health ministry team, and
consider the implementation of a health ministry/parish nurse
Under the restructuring of the UCC , Health programs come
under the main heading of "Justice and Witness Ministries"
and under Economic Justice Ministry, Ms. Barbara T. Baylor
is minister for Health and Wellness.
She coordinates several groups, one of which is the UCC Mental
Health Network, and another is the network of Parish Nurses.
Here in Vermont in Dec. 1999, Jean Britt of Castleton Federated
Church was commissioned by her church to be their Parish Nurse.
Her ministry includes: "to share in the healing ministry
of the church and promote physical, mental, emotional, and
spiritual health; to assist with pastoral care, visit the
sick, make available resources for and facilitate health care,
provide health education; to cooperate with and coordinate
the efforts of others who are providing health care for the
people for the church and community; within the limits of
confidentiality to keep the church informed of the health
needs and concerns of the people; and to call upon the members
of the church to provide assistance, and the support of their
prayers." Jean has written
the following description of her work as a Parish Nurse:
Parish Nursing certainly is NOT a new concept.
There are many references in the Old and New Testament that
reflects health and healing as a central ministry of the
faith community. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified
healing and ministry as identical. Temples were known as
places of sacrifice and healing. Healing is very prevalent
in the Gospels. The many miracles and healings that Jesus
performed were indeed examples of his focus on the restoration
to health of people. We as Christians of today follow the
teachings and acts of Jesus as he taught his disciples to
follow in his footsteps. In those early times if there was
a mission statement for the early congregations it would
include: to teach, preach and heal; to conduct worship and
promote fellowship; and to perform service.
Today we view Parish Nursing as part of the practice of whole
health of the person and the community, and returning them
to health. A good definition of health does not only encompass
the strong physical applications but also those that are spiritual,
emotional, intellectual, and environmental. Without treating
all aspects, it is difficult to return a person to total health.
Health communities are a good place to practice whole health
for we have Jesus Christ as our example. He taught us how
to love one another and challenged us to do so; He taught
us to minister to each other and those in need; and he was
the great example of healing.
In the late 1960s "Wholistic" health centers started
to be designed. The W.K.Kellogg Foundation and the Department
of Prevention Medicine and Community Health of the University
of Illinois College of Medicine started about a dozen of these
clinics in churches. The clinic has spiritually oriented family
doctors, nurses and ministers all working together to service
the needs of the faith community. During the first two years
of the Parish Nurse Project, it became clear that there were
seven (7) areas of ministry in which the nurses were engaged.
The Parish Nurse is:
- a health educator
- a personal health counselor
- a referral agent
- a coordinator of volunteers
- a developer of support groups
- assists people to integrate faith and health
- is a health advocate
With the seven roles of the Parish Nurse Ministry the Parish
Nurse is involved with individuals. families, and communities.
The Parish Nurse does not perform "hands-on" nursing
care but can refer people where to go. The Parish Nurse must
be versed in recent medical advances along with the newest
nursing procedures and have a vast knowledge of medications.
The Parish Nurse is also very involved in the spiritual life
of the church and may find it important to serve on the diaconate,
mission or education committee of the local church. The Parish
Nurse loves people and is not afraid to speak to clients about
The twelve (12) beatitudes for the Parish Nurse are:
- Blessed be the Parish Nurse for being caring
- available and accessible to most faith communities
- knowledgeable about community resources and the process
of referral, cost effective
- has a high tolerance for ambiguity
- has a generalist education and previous employment that
have resulted in a broad variety of skills
- process oriented
- has a generosity of spirit, both of time and talen
- focuses on priorities
- a believer in God, clients, nursing, herself, and in
a better world here and hereafter.
The Committee on the Healing Ministry can help your church
develop a Parish Nurse Program. You can write to us at: Healing
Committee, 690 Town Line Road, Rutland, VT 05701-9342, Telephone
us at: (802) 773 3057, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information. More information can also be obtained
Justice & Witness Ministries U.C.C.,
Attn: Ms. Barbara T. Baylor
700 Prospect Ave.,
Cleveland, OH 44115-1100
Telephone (216) 736-3708
Linda Corey has discovered that funding for the Parish Nurse
program is available through grants from the Robert Wood Johnson