Parish, Congregational, and Church Nursing

A Way to Promote Holistic Congregational Health
Parish nursing is defined as “a unique, specialized practice of professional nursing which focuses on the promotion of health within the context of the values, beliefs, and practices of a faith community. . . Health is viewed as not only the absence of disease but (also as) . . . harmony with self, others, the environment, and with God.” (Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice; acknowledged and published by ANA, 1998.)

A sense of calling
Jesus responded to people’s need by making them whole. He calls Christians to follow His example of compassionate caring for all; therefore, nurses should be professionally involved in the church’s redemptive ministry (Matt. 4:23; Luke 9:2). Parish nursing is a global, new, developing area of nursing begun by Granger Wesburg in 1984.

Educational Requirements
A current nursing license issued by the state in which the parish nurse practices is required. Since there is no certification exam in parish nursing developed by ANCC (1999) or accreditation process for courses or curricula, the nurse should follow the guidelines provided in the Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice. A model curriculum has been developed and endorsed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center which may be purchased for use by educational institutions or programs. (V. Wepfer, in Connections 99, no. 3 [Fall 1999]: 5.)

Baptist Nursing Fellowship Endorsement
Even though Baptist Nursing Fellowship is not a sponsor or provider of Parish nursing, we endorse Parish Nursing and believe that the church ministry team should include a parish nurse.

Areas of Ministry

  • Health educator
  • Personal health counselor and spiritual/prayer interaction
  • Referral source and liaison with community resources
  • Facilitator/educator of volunteers
  • Clarifier of interrelationship of faith and health

Back to top

Visions of Service
The parish nurse promotes wellness and disease prevention in the faith community by:

  • organizing health fairs, health screenings, health promotion education
  • enlisting members’ participation in ministry
  • visiting/communicating with members with health concerns to assist in referral or education
  • offering training and affirmation to caregivers and families
  • coordinating a church care team for persons with long-term illnesses to assist caregivers
  • providing opportunities for outreach through support groups including nonchurch community
  • educating the congregation on moral/ethical health issues

Back to top

Developing a Program
1. Establish a learning program for congregation and staff
    a. Gather educational resources and do study
    b. Do needs assessment
    c. Identify members with health ministry interest
2. Continue studies on holistic health care
3. Lead church to establish a Health Ministry Committee; the chair should be a member of the church council

Tasks of Health Ministry Committee
1. Continue assessment of needs a parish nurse would address in the congregation
2. Study model options for church’s health ministry
3. Keep congregation informed on progress
4. Establish a relationship with local medical programs and other health-related groups if your parish nurse is not participating in a medical initiated model
5. Choose the parish nurse model to fit your church needs and employ nurse

Back to top

Information Resource Centers
International Parish Nurse Resource Center
Deaconess Parish Nurse Ministries
475 E. Lockwood Avenue
Webster Groves, MO 63119
(314) 918-2259

Health Ministries Association
295 W. Crossville Road, Suite 130
Roswell, GA 30075

The Interfaith Health Program
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University
1256 Briarcliff Road NE, Building A, Suite 107
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 727-5246

Back to top

Educational Programs for Parish, Congregational, and Church Nurses
Gardner-Webb University
Contact: Shirley Toney, RN, PhD
Dean, School of Nursing
P. O. Box 7268
Boiling Springs, NC 28017
(704) 406-4360
Note: Offers MSN in Parish Nursing in collaboration with the School of Divinity.

Samford University
Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing
Contact: Gretchen McDaniel, RN, DSN
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
(205) 726-2626
Note: Parish Nursing Certificate Program (Congregational Nursing)

Virginia Parish Nurse Educational Program
Contact: Gerri McDaniel
Parish Nurse Coordinator WMUV/RVBA, Co-coordinator VPNEP
5016 Britaney Road
Roanoke, VA 24012
(540) 977-3903
Note: Parish Nurse Preparation Course (Parish Nurse Resource Center Curriculum)  In 1998, the Virginia Baptist Nursing Fellowship began this program with funds provided by a WMU Second Century Fund grant. In 2004, this program has been completed by 125 nurses from five states and seven denominations.

Union University School of Nursing
Contact: Joyce Henerson, RN, MS
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305
Note: Union University Parish Nursing Course


Congregational Health Ministry
Contact: Jean Holley, RN, MSN, Director
Contact: Debbie Huckaby, MBA, MAT, RN, FCN
100 Medical Center Boulevard, Ste 257
Lawrenceville, GA 30046


Compiled by:
Myrtice Owens, RN, MRE
Shirley Rawlins, APRN, BC, DSN
and Ellen D. Tabor, RN, EdD

Back to top

Login to post comments.

Get Started with WMU 
Ministry Team Blog

In thinking about Project HELPSM: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, I thought it might be a good idea to plan a retreat for military wives. We honor the enlisted men and women who defend our country, but what about their spouses and the sacrifices they make? Little did I know that some of the military wives who came would share that their husbands have PTSD or were wounded and they needed this time for themselves so much!

view counter
view counter
view counter