Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker • Pastor

Last Wednesday, the Session approved creating a Faith Community Nurse (FCN) position at Derry. A FCN is a licensed, registered nurse with specialized education in integrating faith and health. They serve within faith communities to build on and strengthen the capacity of individuals and families to become stewards of their health as guided by their faith tradition.

I worked with a FCN in my previous congregation and it was such a valuable ministry to the church and its members. The position is a pastoral care resource I’ve really missed since coming to Derry. There have been numerous times in my ministry here when I wished we had an FCN. In fact, I journaled a long list of those times over a 45-day period that I shared with the Session as we discussed this new role. I believe a Faith Community Nurse will be a huge asset to our staff and church community. 

Derry’s FCN will be a:

Health Counselor: Listen to and speak with persons regarding their health issues and problems. Make home, hospital and nursing home visits as needed. Offer presence and prayer during times of crisis and celebration.

Health Advocate: Assess/observe individuals for any health-related needs and interests. Speak up for individual needs and offer possible solutions (i.e. accompanying to medical appointments).

Health Educator: Provide health information and health awareness including educating people about different chronic conditions and diseases. Emphasize preventative health care through education, screening and assessments. Promote the understanding of the relationship between faith and health. Facilitate educational workshops, support groups and free clinics as developed within the FCN health ministry (i.e. Blood Pressure Screening Sundays, education events).

A Link to Resources: Help congregation members navigate the healthcare system and connect them to local resources as well as other Derry members who are experts in specific medical fields or other health care areas. 

A Spiritual Presence: Work in conjunction with the Derry pastoral care team (pastor, Deacons, Shepherd Group leaders) in the care-giving ministry of the church. Listen, pray, support and encourage through personal visits, telephone calls and other means of contact.

The FCN will NOT provide invasive/hands-on skilled care or provide medical diagnoses, replace regular medical appointments, maintain medical records, or fill pill dispensers. The FCN is a resource, educator, and advocate and not a nurse who will treat medical issues.

The FCN will start out as part-time (15-18 hours a week) as we assess how this new ministry is working and what the needs of the congregation are. 

The Session also approved the creation of a Health and Wellness Team to support the work of the FCN. The Health and Wellness Team encourages wellness — physical, spiritual, relational — as a faithful response to God, and as a commitment to a healthy congregation as well as healthy families, and communities.

The Team carries out its task by assessing the wellness needs of individuals, families, and the congregation at large. It meets those needs through health promotion, the Faith Community Nurse Program, educational programs, dissemination of information, referral services, and periodic health screenings such as monthly blood pressures with the Deacons. The work of the Health and Wellness team supports the pastoral ministries provided by the Board of Deacons, the Membership Involvement Committee, and the staff.

The Team will work closely with the Faith Community Nurse (FCN) by providing support, oversight, and a team to help facilitate the health and wellness ministries of the church. The FCN will provide direction and leadership to the Team to carry out its purpose, and the Team will help connect the FCN to needs in the church and potential volunteers.

The Health and Wellness Team will be comprised of representatives from the Deacons, Personnel Committee, Membership & Involvement Committee, and members in health-related fields. 

I am excited for the gifts a Faith Community Nurse will bring to Derry. We are already advertising the position and hope to have interviews in April. Please be in prayer for the church and the search team as we discern who God is calling to serve Derry in this important ministry of health, wellness, and care. If you have any questions about this position, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Gregg Robertson, or Julie Yutesler.