UCC Faith Community Nurses eNewsletter April 2016



April 26, 2016                                                        Volume 1, Issue 4

01-UCCDisasterMinistries.jpgEmergencies and Disasters: How can we prepare?  How can we respond?

Summer is a time of sunny weather. Yet sometimes the temperatures go so high that it becomes unsafe. Summer is also a time when weather can become quickly volatile with thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes.

  • Does your health ministry team have a list of those who will need relief if the temperatures become too hot? Is there someone whose health status depends on having electricity?
  • Is there an evacuation plan in place and practiced so regular attendees know what to do when an emergency occurs during worship?
  • Does your church have an Emergency Response Plan in print so that church leaders and staff know the uniform processes and protocols to follow?
  • What resources does your church have to offer when participating with other organizations after a portion of your community experiences a major weather event or man-made disaster?

These are just some of the questions that can be addressed by the Faith Community Nurse in collaboration with church ministry teams.  Pre-planning is the key to an efficient and effective response.

Resources are available! To help your church:

The UCC Disaster Ministries Program site provides the following downloadable documents:

  • UCC Local Church Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning provides a guide to the steps when developing and implementing a plan.
  • Keeping Safe During Fire Cleanup and Keeping Safe During Flood Cleanup Both flyers are available in English and Spanish.
  • The Silent Disaster: 21st Century Response to Technology-Caused Disasters prepared by the UCC and Church World Service

The Insurance Board offers Vol. 5 Management – Creating Safer Places for Ministry, that describes on pages 10 – 11 what a church should consider. Then on pages 22 – 23 a checklist makes it easy to address the major issues.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides Developing High Quality Emergency Operation Plans for Houses of Worship that alerts you to potential emergencies that you may not have thought about yet. Use this document to revise and update existing plans and align your emergency planning practices with those at the local, state, and national levels.

To help families prepare:

Ready.gov site provides information on how to prepare a home for an emergency, as well as information on how to develop an Emergency Communication Plan between family members, and information on Pet and Animal Emergency Planning

Providing Spiritual Care During Times of Disaster

Care for Self:  Meeting God in the Ruins – A devotional for disaster volunteers written and made available online by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is a spiritual resource for individuals or groups of volunteers who help others who have experienced a disaster. The devotionals are organized into three categories:  (1) Before I Go, (2) The Ruins, and (3) After I’m Home.

Care for Others: Light Our Way – A Guide for Spiritual Care in Times of Disaster is a guide written for disaster response volunteers, first responders, and disaster planners by members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD). It is available in both English and Spanish.


Caring for others can have a negative effect on our health and wellbeing.  During a disaster the risk becomes even greater.  “Compassion fatigue has been defined as a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and physical distress” (Anewalt, 2009; Figley, 1995 as cited in the following article).           

Compassion fatigue: Are you at risk?” written by K. Sheppard, PhD, RN, FNP, PMHNP-BC, FAANP discusses the causes, symptoms, and interventions for compassion fatigue and burnout. Learn how to help yourself so that you may continue to minister to others. It is available on the American Nurse Today Online Journal of Issues in Nursing website.

Opportunities to Learn More About Responding to Trauma and Disasters

Caring for Individuals and Communities Affected by Trauma Rev. Matt Crebbin, Sr. Minister, Newtown Congregational Church UCC, Newtown, CT shared in a workshop what he has learned about ministry in a traumatized community following the shooting of 20 children and 6 adults at the local elementary school.

Community Arise – A Disaster Ministry Curriculum was developed by representatives from ten organizations. Individuals may take the course on-line. Materials are also available for use in the classroom. Information is appropriate for potential volunteers, faith-based and secular community groups, disaster response groups; and denominational and community decision-makers.

Additional Resources

12 Ways You Can Help Disaster Survivors Recover Through UCC Disaster Ministries is a one page fact sheet listing ways to share time, talent or donations to assist others.

There is a Disaster Ministry Coordinator for each UCC Conference. Yours would be willing to answer your questions about planning, implementation, and the resources available to assist in recovery. For contact information go to UCC Disaster Ministries Conference Coordinators.

UCC Calendar of Events

  • June 7th– 9th    UCC National Open and Affirming (ONA) Gathering at College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN Learn More and Register! [http://openandaffirming.org/news/ona-gathering/]
  • June 25th – 59th Anniversary of the United Church of Christ
  • 08-NatlHIVTestingDay.jpgJune 27th – National HIV Testing Day   

1 in 7 people with HIV in the U.S. don’t know they have it. To end HIV as a public health threat “All of us must do our part to know HIV – know it in our community, know our own HIV status, and take every measure to prevent its spread.” Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, Executive, Office for Health and Wholeness Advocacy and Exec. Dir., United Church of Christ AIDS Network.

We can use National HIV Testing Day to raise awareness about the importance of testing. Resources are available on the UCC HIV and AIDS Ministry website and on the National Health Observance website.

  • 08a-NYE.pngJuly 26-29th – UCC National Youth Event 

What is the role of the Health Ministry Team +/or FCN in planning for the safe journey of the youth and their advisors? Please share your thoughts! 

National Health Observances (NHOs)

  • May – Mental Health Month – Looking for additional resources as you prepare materials/programs related to Mental Health? You may find something in the Mental Health Ministries e-Spotlight for Spring 2016 is now available.
  • June – National Safety Month – Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages – and they are leading cause of death for American ages 1 to 44. A toolkit is available.

Educational Opportunities

Some you might be able to attend in person or virtually.   Others will provide you with ideas for programs that you could organize in your area.

  • May 11th Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
    Presenter will address common causes of slips, trips and falls in churches and provide some real case scenarios that have cost large dollar losses. Suggestions will be given as to how to identify and reduce the risk of falls occurring.

 Come and meet other UCC FCNs and others involved in UCC Health Ministries!

Sharing with Colleagues

In the May issue of the newsletter we would like to share programming ideas related to the start of school and church school.  What issues have you identified?  How have you responded?  What were the results?

Also looking for input for future issues!   Some possible topics are:

  • Favorite music used in programming.  –  Please share the title and performer of the work, as well as how you use it. 
  • Compensation for services. –  What compensations do you receive for the time and talents you share through your role in the congregation? …As a faith community nurse outside of your congregation?
  • Programming in collaboration with Sunday School program 
  • Programming in collaboration with the Youth Group activities
  • What “occupational health” interventions do you provide for the staff,  both paid and volunteer?

What would you like to know more about?  What information are you seeking? We are all in this together, striving in different locations to do what God has called us to do.  What do you know that might enrich my ministry?

PeggyMatteson.jpgPlease send along your ideas and/or information to Peggy Matteson, editor of the newsletter.