New Year’s resolutions are quite popular, with people committing themselves to various projects, whether self-improvement or completion of long delayed items. Anyone who has a long-standing gym membership knows that the first two weeks of January are usually the busiest. Then things taper off as the commitment fades into oblivion. I too have some resolutions which concern the PSD’s Health Ministry efforts. To bring these resolutions to a successful conclusion requires the assistance of anyone reading this article.
But first a note about the past and where we are. Health ministry/parish nursing is not uniquely a Lutheran concept, but it is founded on work done by Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg, a Lutheran pastor, and his daughter. PN/HM’s serve their congregations in ways as varied as the congregations themselves, with the common thread being the integration of faith and health. Blood pressure screening, education, hospital visitation, and individual counseling are part of the health ministry’s work.
The Missouri Synod has been supportive of health ministry, with two full-time nurses and over 20 volunteer district representatives, offering an introductory course to parish nursing, video lectures, and national conferences (https://www.lcms.org/how-we-serve/mercy/health-ministry/parish-nursing). The PSD has 15 people identifying as either parish nurses or congregational health ministers.
As with all things, the situation is changing. The synod health ministry is being incorporated into another ministry and the two full time positions have currently been reduced to part-time. The number of PN/HM’s in the PSD has been on the decline, with few replacements in the system. As resources shrink and the demands on our pastors’ time increase, the way forward seems to be an increase in volunteer effort.
So now to my resolution. Our 15 PN/HM’s represents less than 0.5% of the PSD’s congregations. Over the next 5 years, I would like to increase that to 30. I will need your help.
Are there unknown (to me) PN/HM’s out there? It’s hard to keep up with 300+ churches, so if we haven’t been in contact, please let me know.
Do you know someone who would like to start a program? I am willing to help in any way possible.
Are you a regular reader of Health Ministry Focus or did you accidentally come upon this article? Do you republish HMF at your church? How could it be improved?
We had successful convocations in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 the convocations were cancelled due to insufficient registration. Do we want to continue with convocations?
What else can be done at the district level to improve our health ministry efforts? I am willing to travel to other churches in the district for educational programs or other supportive measures.
Please help me with your feedback.
Ron Herman, RN, FCN
1590 Rio Grande
Beaumont, CA 92223
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Pacific Southwest District