HEALTH MINISTRY PROGRAMS and the UCC WELCOMING MINISTRIES
“…it is futile to attempt to heal the body without addressing the
emotional and spiritual dimensions of the person.”
-Paul Tournier, physician & theologian
The four denominations that joined together to form the UCC each brought with them with a tradition of providing ministries of health and healing by and for members of their congregations and the communities they served. These health ministries, in addition to praying for others, offered whole-person healing for people across the lifespan by concurrently addressing physical, mental, and spiritual health needs.
Healing is the process of integrating the body, mind, and spirit to bring about wholeness, health, and a sense of well-being, although the … disease may not be cured (Faith Community Nursing, ANA/HMA, 2017, pg. 87). As faith community nurses (FCNs) we continue the tradition of promoting health as wholeness within the faith community, its groups, families, and individual members.
Collaborating with UCC Welcoming Ministries
Feeling welcomed and accepted in a community has a major affect on a person’s health and well-being. Through a Health Ministry we can lead a congregation into understanding that some individuals do not feel welcomed into our faith community or have encountered physical barriers that prevent their full participation in church activities.
The three UCC ministry groups listed below provide resources explaining the steps to take to become more welcoming. Each of these ministries has a specific focus, whereas a Health Ministry Team has an on-going whole-person focus.
Collaboration between those interested in attaining one or more designations as ONA, A2A, or W.I.S.E. and the FCN led Health Ministry Team focused on spiritual health, mental health and physical health brings the welcoming ministries into an already established program within the congregation and will have a synergetic effect.
LGBT Ministries of the UCC
Since 1969 members of the UCC though LGBT Ministries have been affirming civil rights for LGBT people. The Open and Affirming (ONA)movement for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and same gender loving (SGL) persons continues to spread throughout all aspects of our denomination’s life and witness. The UCC Open and Affirming Coalition provides leadership and resources to support local churches and other settings of the church in every stage of their ONA journey.
Ten million American adults identify as LGBT and approximately 2.4 million of them are over 50 years of age (Gallup Poll, March 2017), The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has designated sexual and gender minorities as a health disparity population. Being able to locate safe, supportive health care is often difficult. We support health and well-being by providing individualized health promotion information and when asked, providing referrals to supportive providers.
Resources available on-line:
- UCC LGBT Ministries
- UCC LGBT Resources
- Open and Affirming materials
- How to Become a Welcoming Church resources
UCC Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM)
The UCC Disabilities Ministry (UCCDM) encourages and support local churches to become Accessible to All (A2A) in all aspects of their lives: buildings, worship, education, fellowship, and service in order to proclaim God’s word to all people. There are two steps for a congregation to become A2A. The first is completion of the Church Building and Program Accessibility Audit. The second is to complete the A2A checklist.
As FCNs we know of some of the challenges experienced by individuals with disabilities and the physical, spiritual, and social effect it often has on their families. We are skilled in interviewing and then collaborating in the development of a plan of care with the person to address identified issues. These skills are helpful when participating in the two steps to achieve A2A designation as well as in the ongoing assessment of ever changing needs.
Resources available on-line:
- How to Become A2A provides a Church Building and Program Accessibility Audit as well as a Complete the A2A Checklist
- Any Body, Every Body, Christ's Body
- UCCDM Facebook page
The UCC Mental Health Network (UCC MHN)
The UCC Mental Health Network (UCC MHN) works to reduce stigma and promote the inclusion of people with mental illnesses/brain disorders and their families in the life, leadership and work of congregations.
Nurses in all practices care for individuals who are experiencing mental illness/brain disorders. As in the general population 1 in 4 of us have had a personal experience and all have been involved in advocating for and providing supportive care to friends or family members. Our experience, knowledge, and empathy aid us in supporting and advocating for the health and well-being of individuals and their families experiencing mental illness/brain disorders. We assist in reducing the stigma associated mental illness/brain disorders by providing congregants with accurate information and role modeling supportive behaviors.
Resources available on-line:
- Becoming a W.I.S.E. Congregation (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged for Mental Health) Toolkit
Other materials are available from UCC Resources such as:
- Mental Health - A Guide for Leaders
- Blessed Are The Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family and Church bySarah Griffith Lund
As you enjoy this summer season may you be blessed:
May the sun
Bring you new energy by day,
May the moon
Softly restore you by night,
May the rain
Wash away your worries,
May the breeze
Blow new strength into your being,
May you walk
Gently through the world and know
its beauty all the days of your life.
RESOURCES FOR OUR PRACTICE
Our goals in learning a person’s spiritual and religious beliefs include: (1) to assess level of spiritual distress, (2) to enable a response that draws on their strengths, (3) to provide care that is within their beliefs, (4) to assist with finding inner resources for healing and acceptance, (5) to identify spiritual or religious beliefs that could govern their treatment choices, and (6) to identify if a referral is needed.
There are more than 25 spiritual assessment tools from which to choose. Each helps to start a conversation and we can learn about an individual’s perspectives. Select the one you feel is most relevant to your practice. Below are three that have a mnemonic that organizes and facilitates the progression of the conversation.
- S – Spiritual belief system
- P – Personal spirituality
- I – Integration with a spiritual community
- R – Ritualized practices and restrictions
- I – Implications for care
- T – Terminal events planning
More information is available at Maugans TA. The SPIRITual history. Arch Fam Med. 1996;5(1):11-16
- F – Faith, Belief, Meaning – things that help a person cope with stress and bring meaning to life.
- I – Importance and Influence – How belief affects self-care.
- C – Community – Role of a spiritual community in a person’s life.
- A – Address/Action in Care – Preference in how to address their concerns
More information is available from The George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health
- H - Hope – What provides hope?
- O - Organized religion – Is one in a community? Is that helpful?
- P - Personal spirituality/practices
- E - Effects on health care needs and end of life choices
Source of information: Anandarajah G & Hight E. Spirituality & Medical Practice: Using the HOPE questions.... Arch Fam Physician. 2001; 63(1):81-89.
RESOURCES FOR OUR ONGOING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The Mental Health Benefits of Religion & Spirituality by Laura Greenstein.
Both religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on mental health. In some ways, they provide the same impact. For example: Both religion and spirituality can help a person tolerate stress by generating peace, purpose and forgiveness. But benefits also vary between the two due to the differences between spirituality and religion. Download article here.
Insurance Board Webinars are Free
Register at https://www.insuranceboard.org/online-learning/
- August 8th, 2:00 (EDT) – Unique Risks – Preventing Sexual Abuse in the School Environment
- 12th, 2:00 (EDT) – Trending Risk Management Concerns for Churches
Webinars remain on the site after the initial date and are available for viewing. Some of the relevant ones you may have missed:
- Best Practices for Allowing Offenders in Your Congregation: Recommendations.
- Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Harassment at Church
- Sexual Abuse Prevention - policies and training staff
- Know Your Score! Abuse Prevention Self-Assessment
- 7th – 9th Practice & Presence: A Gathering for Christians in Healthcare,
Duke Divinity School,
More information is available at Duke Divinity School.
- 8th – 10th The Sacred Practice of Caring: Partnering for a Healthy, Hopeful Future.
Health Ministries Association's Annual Conference and Meeting
Erlanger, KY (Right next to Cincinnati Airport).
Register Now. HMA Conference Brochure
- 29th - WISE Congregations for Mental Health Conference,
UCC Mental Health Network. Being held at:
South Congregational Church, UCC, 41 Central Street, Andover, MA 01810.
Registration opens soon.
- 1st – 3rd - Widening the Welcome: Living, Learning, Leading
UCC Disabilities Ministries.
Niagara Falls Convention Center, Niagara Falls, NY.
More information to follow.
DATES TO PUT ON YOUR PLANNING CALENDAR
Some of these dates provide the opportunity to integrate your health ministry activities with other activities in your church such as advocating for a just wage, working with the building and grounds group over access issues, Christian Education committee, etc.
Sept. 2nd Labor Day Sunday
A person’s health is affected by the type and place where they work and the benefits and compensation provided. Information will be available on the UCC.org website this summer.
Oct. 14th Access Sunday and Disabilities Awareness Week
Oct 21st Children’s Sabbath – Observed across all major religious groups. Link to activities and worship materials will be available in October.
Dec. 1st World AIDS Day – Materials available in October
Dec. 10th Human Rights Day – Advocating for all God’s children