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Churches connect with communities with parish nursing

The early part of my career was in nursing and community health, writes Rev Dr Helen Wordsworth, yet there were times when I felt that the care failed to take account of the spiritual element of health ...

Parish Nursing is a great example of a truly integral mission, says its CEO, Rev Dr Helen Wordsworth

The early part of my career was in nursing and community health. Yet there were times when I felt that the care failed to take account of the spiritual element of health.

God made us whole people – physical, mental, social and spiritual, and these elements need to come together towards healing and health. Parish nursing does just that. It’s a brilliant example of truly integral mission.

Where prayer is appropriate and desired, the nurses can offer it because they are appointed by the Church for their parish nursing hours, not by the NHS.

Parish nursing is about prevention and advice rather than treatment, so it’s hard to measure outcomes.

Nurses are finding fulfilment and their churches are engaging more effectively in community mission; health checks are identifying conditions that need referral and some clients are getting more involved in volunteering or wanting to find out about faith.

Referrals to and from the parish nurse come by the congregations, the other voluntary agencies, medical professionals and hospital chaplains.

Most nurses only work for the church for one or two days a week, but they record an annual average of 400 significant health interventions.

The challenges are helping churches to see their mission as taking the whole gospel out to people – and raising funds. We’re now in 80 UK churches, but much of our work is still underfunded.

The joys? Knowing someone’s life has been transformed by God’s power, through the work of a parish nurse; taking a call from a nurse who believes this is what God has been preparing them for; meeting people who share the vision and want to help make it happen.

We want to double our numbers in the next two years and attract funding to support a paid chief executive. We also want to find 500 ‘friends’ to help us grow this initiative further and thus see many more people find life in all its fullness.

  • Would you like a grant of £1,500-£3,000 to start a church-based community project? The Cinnamon Network is trying to make it as easy as possible for local churches to serve those people most at need in their communities. Get started at www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk

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