The AAFCN has recently started a quarterly newsletter called The AAFCN Illuminator. Within it we’ve decided to do a spot on a selected AAFCN called: The Illuminator’s Spotlight. It was not difficult at all to choose the first selectee as she (and her husband) are a couple that I have admired from a distance for several decades and for multiple reasons with its crowning reason…well, I will speak more on that later. Now, on to the interview:
A couple weeks ago she and I sat for a telephone interview which lasted just under an hour. Most may know her as the former First Lady of the South Atlantic Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, Eula Winston. But when I look at her, I see her as an older sister and mentor as she graciously accepted my invitation for this interview.
Sister Winston was born and lived the first five years of her life in rural Burlington, NC where her father was a tobacco farmer. By the time she started school, the family moved to the incorporated city of Burlington, where she attended the segregated public school system through her high school years. Eula was one of five girls and one boy, of which she was next to the youngest. While in high school she participated in both cheerleading and the Glee Club. She graduated in 1964 and remains close and active with her classmates. Even up until just last year (some 57 years later) they still do things together as a group!
Eula met her beloved husband (William) while she was a nursing student. He was an Adventist, and it wasn’t until sometime after they married that she joined the Seventh-day Adventist church. She went on to explain, “After we had kids, we knew we needed to get them into a church setting. As I watched the children preforming on one 13th Sabbath (with the in-depth teaching of the Bible) it was then I knew I had found ‘The Church’.” Shortly afterwards, she was baptized.
Eula was proud to announce that her 1964 graduation class saw the largest number of students go off to college. And yes, she was one in that number! Surprisingly, prior to deciding nursing school, she had never stepped into a hospital.
“During my high school years my father had become a minister and would make visits to members who were in the local hospital. As a high school student, I could not go inside. So, my sister and I would sit in the car and watch as the nurses entered and left to go home during shift change. I really admired the pretty white uniforms (during those days that included both white hats and white shoes) that the nurses wore. Even though I did not see any nurses of color; I knew that is what I wanted to become, a nurse!”
In full disclosure, she added: “I also wanted to help people”. 🙂
“I heard about parish nursing when we lived in Illinois. People at The Lutheran Hospital first started talking about it. Later, I started seeing information in different NAD literature and that’s when I started asking others about Faith Community Nurses (FCNs). Not long after I found out that Kathleen Woodfork Coleman was an AAFCN, so I really started looking into it even closer. Subsequently, as a retired nurse, in 2019 I went to Albuquerque, NM and did the training. That is the shortened version of how I became an FCN.”
“My most challenging experience as an FCN: Covid!!!…Covid-19 really messed everything up! In 2019, when I completed the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course EVERYTHING SHUT DOWN! I had no church to practice my newly gained knowledge. Also, I noticed that nothing has split the church more than the vaccination issue. Yeah, there was one group that was pro-vaccine and another which was anti-vaccine. Now, they made both good and not-so-good arguments and that is where I wanted to be, right there in the midst of each group to be a resource for good/factual information”.
“My husband retired in January 2023, but I do not see myself retiring any time soon. I choose to give back. I choose to help and work with those nurses (in different capacities) who are still actively working. For example, a friend and I started a retreat in the SAC called The Best Nurses Retreat, which I believe is the only one of its kind in the NAD. I look forward to my church fully opening up so I can support the members in being a resource as we get completely to the other side and beyond this pandemic. Yes, more teaching! So, no I currently do not see myself retiring. 🙂
“My parting words to potential FCNs: Every church has a need for FCNs. Health Leaders are different than RNs.” According to Ellen G White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, “Trained nurses should work with the gospel leaders.” Here is the actual quote: “…the Lord has ordained that Christian doctors and nurses shall labor in connection with those who preach the word,” Review and Herald, Sept. 20 1908.
I probably would not be an FCN today if not for the part that Eula played in my training. You see, one day while reading, in Southern Tiding magazine, I saw and was intrigued over the advertisement for an FCN training provided by AAFCN. It was not a week later that I received a phone call from Eula suggesting and encouraging me to take the course. Now, that was CONFIRMATION! And now, I am about to enter my second year working with the congregation at my church as an FCN!