Why do I need a Faith Community Nurse?
In order to establish a church that is a center for healing, it must start with the pastor. The pastor must understand the healing ministry. Perhaps this is not well-defined in training for pastors; therefore, many pastors rely on health-related events rather than a Faith Community Nurse process, that functions year-round, with measurable outcomes.
In Romans 16:1,2 we recognize Phoebe, a deaconess who is referred to as the first nurse mentioned in scripture. What would this apostolic model of health ministry look like today? For the church to reclaim its New Testament role as the center for healing in the community, and for the members to experience full restoration in Christ, the messages of health, and methods of becoming whole, must become an intentional ministry of the church, equal to its work for redemption and reconciliation.
Defining the Role of the FCN in Your Congregation
The FCN works with the Health Ministry Committee to foster the health and wellness of the members of the congregation. It is essential to the success of a Health Ministry Program that the FCN and the pastor work closely together, sharing information and making referrals to one another. Some of the main responsibilities of the FCN are as follows:
- Work closely with the health ministry committee to develop and plan the health ministry activities within the congregation.
- Meet regularly with the pastor to report on the activities of the health ministry and to share information about those who are ill and in need within the congregation, respecting members’ confidentiality.
- Serve as a personal health counselor.
- Plan and facilitate classes, secure guest speakers and coordinate support groups and special sessions on specific health topics with the health ministry committee members.
- Provide regular health screenings and monitoring based on assessed needs of the membership.
- Work with the Health Ministry Committee to promote health education through the church newsletter, bulletin, bulletin boards, website, and other church services.
- Provide health referral information.
- Serve as a liaison between church departments, the congregation and community resources.
- Identify and recommend areas of need that can be supplemented through community grants.
- Maintain appropriate Faith Community Nursing records.
- Work with health ministry to recruit and train volunteers to help with health ministry, i.e., visiting homebound and hospitalized members.
- Attend meetings in the community and the meetings of all who participate in the corporate network of Faith Community nursing partnerships.
- Join groups that promote Faith Community Nursing.
History of Faith Community Nursing in the Church
It was in the 1900s that Faith Community Nursing was promoted in the Adventist Church, as conferences hired nurses to visit members in the hospital and to serve in the mission fields.
Parish nursing or Faith Community Nursing, as we know it today, grew out of Granger Westberg’s reading of the book, Ministry of Healing and doing experiments providing a pastor / nurse / physician team in several Chicago suburban churches. Dr. Westberg discovered that having a nurse on the pastoral staff could serve much the same purpose at less cost. The concept proved to be sound. In the older age group, hospitalizations were reduced 20-25%, with a similar reduction in costs. He chose nursing over other disciplines because nurses are trained in both the scientific and behavioral worlds. (Blome, M., Nelson, T., & Van der Vlugt, B., 2007)
Since then, Faith Community Nursing has become an official Nursing Specialty around the world and many Seventh-day Adventist Nurses have completed their training through Adventist Health Institutions, Colleges, and through the North American Division’s Adventist Association of Faith Community Nursing (AAFCN, NADhealth.org/aafcn).
What is the Role of the FCN?
The roles of the FCN are many and varied. These roles include, but are not limited to the following:
- Health counselor and promoter (provides screening clinics or health fairs)
- Educator of whole health (seeks to promote an understanding of the relationship between lifestyle, attitudes, faith, and well-being)
- Advocate in members behalf as they navigate the church and health care system (answers questions related to health and care)
- Liaison, resource, and referral agent with community agencies (refers individuals to appropriate community agencies)
- Training of volunteers and coordinating the facilitation of Support Groups (supports the volunteers with education on health and wellness topics for the support groups)
- Healer of spirit, mind, and body (serves as a member of the church staff and in partnership with the pastor(s) to meet the whole health healing mission of the church)
This information is excerpted from the Pastors Guide to Faith Community Nursing, 2022 Edition by Betsy A. Johnson and Kathleen W. Coleman.