The Philadelphia Area is blessed with many churches that have “Wellness Ministries” or “Parish Nurse Ministries.” They provide many helpful and holistic services to our local churches and communities. Here are some of their ministries: blood pressure screenings, shut-in visitation, post-hospital visitation, get-well cards, wellness training, safe sanctuary training, spiritual formation, blood drives, women’s health conferences, cancer awareness programs, HIV/AIDS education, nutrition education, support groups, grief counseling, walking programs. They also have been known to install AED equipment and first aid kits at church, post health education notices inside the bathroom stalls about flu prevention, write grants for training classes and conferences and sponsor health-related Bible Studies.
One Parish nurse offered a “Blue Christmas” service on December 21st for people who have lost loved ones during the year and who are feeling especially sad at Christmas time. December 21st is the longest day of the year and during this service candles are lit as a symbol of Christ’s light even in dark times. Another parish nurse sponsored a “Walk to Bethlehem” and challenged parishioners to don their pedometers and track how many miles they walked during Advent with the goal of walking as many miles as Mary and Joseph walked on their way to Bethlehem. Some parish nurses have taken their health concerns out to the global scene and educated people about the health needs of women in developing countries and raised money to pay for medical services overseas. It seems that the possibilities are endless.
My personal experience with parish nursing comes from my years serving in a low income Deaf congregation. On several occasions the visiting parish nurse who came each week for the blood pressure screening ended up taking church members to the emergency room for extremely high blood pressure readings. They literally saved the lives of many.
The purpose of our church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Wellness Ministry/Parish Nurse ministry transforms the world!
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson