Parish Nursing was founded in the 1980’s by Chaplain Granger Westberg. As the concept for health ministry developed across the country, CMC NorthEast Medical Center started our program in October 1997. This grew out of a need for more community outreach toward the prevention of illness in our area. Parish Nursing is emerging as one of the fastest growing specialized professional nursing practices. In 1998, the American Nurses Association formally recognized parish nursing, now called Faith Community Nursing, as a new specialty area in nursing.
Faith Communities have been promoting health and wholeness for centuries through worship, music, sharing, and caring. As an institution, faith communities are the only place where people meet regularly to seek healing and our church families are seen as a connecting point. It is a place where we all share life experiences, good and bad, then develop and grow from them. In our community, parish nursing is a health ministry between a hospital and area churches. This ministry is based on the belief that our health is wholistic and that our bodies, our minds and our spirits need to be in harmony if we are to be well or “whole.” Our Parish Nursing and Health Ministry at Central is blessed to be supported by our local hospital’s Parish Nursing department. Currently, Parish Nurse Programs affiliated with CMC-NorthEast have been established in over 40 churches. This represents approximately 19,000 church members where the religious and ethnic diversity, as well as the geographic distribution, of the congregations reflect the community as a whole. We are heavily centralized in Cabarrus County but have a number of churches in neighboring Rowan, Stanly, Anson, and Northeast Mecklenburg communities.
The Congregational Health Promoter (CHP) is generally a lay person trained in wholistic healthcare principles and avenues for coordination of a health ministry in their place of worship. At Central, we are blessed to have two individuals who are also “CHP’s”. The CHP attends approximately 12 hours of training about how to start a health ministry in his or her congregation. This person may be an additional resource to an existing Parish Nurse program or may establish a CHP model in their church, which involves a somewhat different scope of responsibility than a Parish Nurse model. Our CHP’s at Central are Stephania Cude, and Amelia Jones.
The Health Cabinet is made up of volunteers who are concerned about health and who are committed to seeing that the healing ministry of the church is carried out. The health cabinet’s primary role in relating to the parish nurse is to provide guidance and support. Central’s Valda Harry Health Cabinet was formed to lead and involve our congregation in a healing ministry, and is based on a wholistic perception of each individual – body, mind, and spirit.
Our Parish Nurses and Congregational Health Promoters will promote health and wholeness of mind, body, and spirit to individuals, congregations, and the community for the glory of God. This mission statement summarizes our commitment to impacting individuals, congregations, and our community as a whole through our various forms of health ministry: parish nursing, congregational health promotion, and Stephen Ministry (currently in inactive status).