UCC Faith Community Nurses eNewsletter – September 2016


 September 2016, Volume 1, Issue 9

Mind, Body, Spirit:
Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness

 The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter

Spiritual Care during the last 6 weeks of the year

The time between Thanksgiving Sunday and New Year’s Day can be difficult for many of us.  The heavily advertised gatherings of happy extended families and the showy overabundance of everything that is supposedly required to have a happy holiday season can cause emotional pain and sadness especially in those who are separated from family, those who lack the means to provide even the basics of shelter, food, and clothing,  and those who now face the holiday activities with an empty chair at the table because of the death of a loved one.  What can we do to provide spiritual and emotional care? 

Talk with other members of the staff about the following health promoting ideas and choose one or two for possible inclusion in your programing:

  • 01a-RoastedTurkey.pngA Church Family Thanksgiving dinner – Do you know of people in your congregation for whom Thanksgiving dinner will be like any other dinner, one eaten at home alone? Perhaps their adult children are going to eat at their spouse’s parents, or maybe family members don’t have the time off from work or the money to travel, or maybe this is the first year after the death of a loved one and they desire a new tradition. 

Why not have a church family dinner that builds a sense of community? 

The turkey is provided and if possible cooked in the oven at the church so the aroma greets attendees.  The normal church supper beverages are also provided.  Attendees are asked to sign-up to bring a food dish that is his or her favorite at Thanksgiving, maybe something that is a family tradition.  (These items can be great conversation starters.)  A schedule that continues the joint venture of “family” is: 11:00 table setting and appetizers (you may even want kid’s tables and adult tables), when the turkey is done the carvers start their work; 12:00 noon dinner is served buffet style.  When all have eaten and some have even returned for seconds, the focus gradually turns to the array of desserts.  When the feasting is done, at a comfortable pace the activities then move to clearing the table and washing dishes.  Simultaneously left-overs, and there are always some, are selected and put into takeout containers that have been collected for this purpose during the prior year.  After all tasks are completed people gather their pots, their containers with selected left-overs, and gradually leave, some to return home for their traditional Thanksgiving nap.  All leave with a sense of having been part of a community that laughed, offered prayers of thanksgiving, and broke bread together.

  • 01b-XmasCandles.pngA Service of Remembrance of those who died within the past year – Do you partner with your local visiting nurse service or hospice service?  Many of the community organizations who provide end-of-life care like to offer an interfaith memorial service to help families served in the past year.  Instead of hearing from the inexperienced, “Cheer up it’s the holidays” or “Aren’t you over that yet”, the service provides individuals and families, no matter where they are in  the grieving process, to be able to acknowledge and honor their loss in community with others. 
  • A Blue Christmas Service – Held at any time during Advent, this service has a quiet somber feeling and the message focuses on the comfort God offers during dark times.  It also provides a quiet place of comfort for those who are grieving.
  • Service of Light or Longest Night Service – is traditionally held on or near the winter solstice – literally, the day with the shortest amount of daylight.  The service focuses on the increase of daylight we receive the next day.  For those who suffer from season affective disorder (SAD) this is an especially welcome event.  For those who view the celebration of the birth of Jesus as a new light coming into the world it is also meaningful.  Rather than have two services some churches combine the meaning of a Blue Christmas service with a Longest Night service.
  • 01c-WinterSun.pngA Watch Night Service or New Year Eve Service and Vigil – For those who wish to close the year and begin anew the Book of Worship of the United Church of Christ provides two possible examples from which to start your planning:  Order of Worship for Healing for Congregational Use and Order of Worship for Corporate Reconciliation.  Other ideas are available on-line.

When you go to UCC.org  [http://www.ucc.org] and search Blue Christmas, Longest Night or New Year’s Eve you will find examples shared by other churches that may help in the planning of your event. 

Health Ministries Asso. 2016 Annual Meeting and Conference

The Health Ministries Asso., our professional organization, encourages, supports and empowers leaders in the integration of faith and health in their local communities.  When we gather together we learn from each others faith traditions and programming.  Not all are able to travel to this event so resources collected during the conference will be shared in this and future newsletters.

The UCC was well represented at the Conference and during the Tuesday morning breakfast we gathered together, attendees from across the country, to share ideas and celebrate our oneness.


Rev. Karen MacDonald, a UCC minister and Chair of the Spiritual Leadership group of HMA opened the 2016 national conference with the following prayer:

Mishkan t’filah
In the morning, before this day’s journey begins,
I offer thanks before you God,
that just as You found me worthy to gaze upon the sun in the east,
so I will merit seeing it in the west.

And when darkness descends,
may it be Your will to grace me with another dawning of light.

(Judith Z. Abrams & Elyse Frishman, adapted from Y. B’rachot 4:1, 29b)

The closing thoughts of the conference were captured in this epilogue printed in the Reflections on Peace booklet distributed at our last meal together.

            “God walked among us this week and we believed and miracles happened.  This was reality and not just perceptions.  We have been brought to happiness and joy and hope in and through one another.  May we care deeply with our passion for ourselves, for each other and for our gifts of Brilliance and Light, Creative Love and Quiet Hope and Peace.

            Awesome Creator, your love for us is so inclusive and embracing that together we stretch toward your wholeness. With you we surrender to the Sacred Presence we are a part of as we give ourselves for the good of our Global village and splendiferous Mother Earth.”  



Dr. Carl Hammerschlag, a Yale-trained psychiatrist, master storyteller and internationally recognized author, physician, speaker, healer, and humanitarian clown has spent more than 20 years working with Native Americans and is an expert in community-based health care.  He spoke about learning from his patients how to become a healer of body, mind and spirit.  Two of his books that may enhance your ministry are:

  • Healing Ceremonies – Creating Personal Rituals for Spiritual Emotional, Physical, and Mental Health (1997)
  • Kindling Spirit – Healing from Within (2011)


In the report Research, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications author Harold G. Koenig, PhD reviews the research in 7,700 articles published since 1872 and makes recommendations.  This is an open access article that permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction, provided it is properly cited.

Free Webinars

Experts will address what you can do to reduce the risk of child-to-child abuse in your ministries.

  • Oct. 25th  2:00pm CDT   Topic:  Nurturing Active Families This interactive webinar will explore how families can grow together through play, movement and healthy nutrition. Fun and creativity are crucial factors.



  • Faith Community Nurses responded with their thoughts during the month long time for comments to the draft of The Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (3rd ed.).   This input is being reviewed by the writers group of FCNs and Coordinators, chaired by our own Alyson Breisch, MS, RN-BC, who compiled this edition.

Aly reported the following:

  • The first document was published in 1997, was 12 pages in length with 6 standards of practice and 8 standards of professional practice.  Nursing practice has changed since then and so has the document that defines and directs our practice.
  • The Scope section of the document answers the questions of: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and How?.
  • The FCN document is unique because it must integrate nursing terminology, inclusive faith-based terminology, and healthcare terminology.
  • New areas of content in this edition are: Ethics in FCN nursing,  Culturally congruent care,  Mentoring,  Certification by portfolio,  Transitional care coordination,  Rural health and telehealth,  Behavioral health – mental health care,  Technology,  Compensation,  Workplace safety,  Health promotion and self-care and the Influence of spiritual and secular values.
  • It is expected that the American Nurses Asso. will publish this document by early 2017 and it will be available on both the HMA and the ANA websites.
  • Health Ministers are nutritionists, musicians, artists, healthcare professionals, stay at home parents, lawyers, accountants and others working at the intersection of faith and health.  Some volunteers in the Health Ministry group of the Health Ministries Asso., chaired by Tom Pruski, RN, MAPS have been working on updating and expanding The Health Minister Role: Guidelines and Foundational Curriculum ElementsTom reported that the revised document is expected to be published by HMA and available on that website in early 2017.


—   At the HMA conference, Peggy Matteson, PhD, RN-BC and Commissioned Minister of Congregational Health presented a workshop titled Diminishing the Stigma of Mental Illness through Health Ministry. If you would like to see the presentation in PowerPoint® format and the bibliography e-mail Peggy at peggymatteson@cox.net

  • Congratulations to Kathleen Zagada, FCN at the First Congregational Church in Winchester, MA. Her workshop: Health Ministry: Keeping Beat in the Rhythms of Life was accepted for presentation at the joint gathering of the UCC Conferences of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The description states: “It’s natural and as simple as following life’s rhythms. Life transitions, rhythms and blues give rise to a framework for faith centered offerings that support healing and well-being. Join the discussion as we explore health and healing activities that fit your particular faith community.”  Contact Kathleen at kathleenzag@gmail.com for more information.


What topics would enhance your practice?  What information would you like to share? 
Please send along your ideas and/or information to Peggy Matteson, editor of the newsletter at nurses@ucc.org.