Orthodox Christian Parish Nurses of New England
Health ministries and the practice of Parish Nursing have been in existence since early Christian times. Nursing and caring for the sick and infirm was given a place of honor and respect. Christ in his own ministry of teaching, healing, and preaching set the example for his apostles and others to follow. He charged us with the mission to serve and care for our sisters and brothers; to tend to the whole person and to the spiritual needs of each person entrusted to our care. Christ’s ministry was focused on healing. He performed more miracles of healing than of any other. Among the first followers who took up their cross and were given the task of caring for the sick and infirm were those of the deaconate. Deacons and deaconesses are the earliest documented professional nurses. They brought care and faith into the homes of the ill; they established hospitals, and hospices. Thus, from these beginnings we learn that Parish Nurses tend to the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of the person in their care.
Parish Nursing is a recent, but growing segment of nursing in America today. The current concept of Parish Nursing originated in the mid 1980’s by Granger Westberg, a Lutheran pastor from Park Ridge, Illinois. He envisioned a need to bring the expertise of a nurse into the congregation to help reclaim the church’s role as a place of healing and wellness. He taught in the nursing school of a large Chicago medical center where he developed coursework on the relationship between religion and health. His premise was that “medicine transcends the physical because true healing involves the body, the mind and the spirit.”
Purpose of the Parish Nurse Program
Today the mission of the Parish Nurse is to partner with the pastoral staff of the congregation and to integrate faith and health. The Parish Nurse works closely with the pastoral staff to identify, support, and guide those in the congregation who need assistance. The Parish Nurse is a health educator, personal health counselor, referral agent, trainer of volunteers, initiator of support groups, and health advocate. Parish Nurses do not provide hands on nursing care, but rather help direct those in need to the best and most appropriate health care providers.
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Parish Nurse Preparation Courses: