Mind Body Spirit – May-June 2019


Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness
The Wellness Ministries of the UCC Newsletter
(formerly The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter)

July-August 2019, Volume 4, Issue 5


01_Butterfly.png“That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood
.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


02_Vegetables.jpgTo plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  Audrey Hepburn 

What comes to your mind as favorite summer memories? 
Fireflies twinkling at dusk?  
Butterflies on lantana blooms?
Watermelon and ice cream at family picnics? 
Early morning sunbeams dancing on a quiet lake?
Fireworks on the 4th of July?
The nighttime chorus of katydids and crickets?  

Fruit and vegetables are now plentiful in backyard plots, community lots, and farmers markets.  Mason jars are on sale, waiting for an August Saturday when many hands work together to “put up” this summer’s yield for enjoyment in winter meals.   

The summer beckons us to expand our time outdoors, plant and nurture gardens, gather and share the bounty with others, and walk with reverence and gratitude for the splendor all around us. 


03_Shine_GS32.jpgThe 32nd General Synod of the United Church of Christ was held in Milwaukee, WI from June 20-25, 2019 at the Milwaukee Center.  There were 22 resolutions brought before the committees and then to the Plenary Sessions for delegate voting.  Some resolutions addressed UCC bylaws and organizational procedures; others addressed moral concerns such as private prisons, racial violence, sexual assault, immigrant detention; and other resolutions focused on climate justice and  environmental  concerns.  You can view the statements of each resolution at this link: http://ucceverywhere.org/synod/

The Health and Wholeness Advocacy ministries were very active during the exhibit times.  These groups include: The Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM), UCAN (United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network, Sexuality Education and Justice (Our Whole Lives (OWL), UCC Wellness Ministries and Faith Community Nurses, UCC Disability Ministries, Disability and Mental Health Justice, UCC for Mental Health – Wise, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged (WISE), UCC Scouting Working Group, ONA (Open and Affirming) LGBT Ministries, and Encuentro De Gracia Y Bienvendia.  HIV testing was offered, NARCAN education and doses were provided, each group provided educational resources, and many one-on-one conversations were shared related to these ministries.  A heartfelt “thank you” is extended to Rev. Michael Scheunemeyer, Executive, Office for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, for his generous encouragement, support, and guidance to these groups whose purpose is to promote justice, advocacy, education, health and healing for all.

A new feature at General Synod this year was the Self-Care Suite.  This was a joint undertaking of the Wellness Ministries, Disability Ministries, and the Mental Health Network to offer a quiet, welcoming space to support physical and mental health during General Synod.  Accessible yoga, meditation, breath, QiGong, and Reiki workshops were also offered in adjoining space. 

The Health and Wholeness Advocacy Luncheon on Sunday, June 23rd provided the opportunity for each of  the ministry groups to provide a short presentation about its mission and focus.  The UCC Wellness Ministries and Faith Community Nurses presentation can be viewed here.


Alyson Breisch, Chair of the UCC Wellness Ministries, asked leadership team members Peggy Matteson, and Donna Smith-Pupillo who also attended the 32nd General Synod to share their reflections on General Synod:

Donna Smith-Pupillo, Executive Director, Deaconess Nurse Ministry, St. Louis, MO:  “The 32nd General Synod was filled with all the joys and concerns of a family reunion with work as we continue to become as the church. The luncheon for the Health and Human services highlighted for me the work that can be done in collaborative format for the whole church. With the opiate crisis present across the country, the General Synod passed a resolution to address advocacy and treatment needs.” 

Peggy Matteson, Minister for Congregational Health, Historic Rhode Island Conference:  In the moment the Synod experience can be spiritually, physically, intellectually, and emotionally exhausting.  A time of post-Synod reflection reveals the range of blessings it provides. Synod is a sacred time of genuine opportunity to be encircled within the very diverse community that comprises the United Church of Christ.  The reality of others lived experiences, their joys and heartbreaks, struggles and opportunities were shared in both forums large and small and individual conversations, as our community of faith sought to find common ground on which to journey forth addressing a variety of justice issues.   The faces, the stories, the worship, the shared meals, the elevator conversations, etc. all provided me with pride in the membership of the UCC for lifting up the challenges and then listening to the wisdom offered by individuals from every decade of life.” 



Juvenile Arthritis awareness month: https://www.arthritis.org/warriors-2018/


July 28, 2019: World Hepatitis Day: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/worldhepday.htm


National Immunization Awareness Month:  Important vaccination information for babies, children, pre-teens, teens, and adults. 


      Children’s Eye Health and Safety: https://yoursightmatters.com/august-childrens-eye-   health-safety-month/

NOTE:  There are many health observance days in September.  Here are few you can review to advance plan for educational sessions and bulletin board displays:



Boating and Water Safety:

This is the time of the summer when people are vacationing and enjoying recreational boating, jet skiing, and waterboarding on lakes and rivers.  Choosing the right life jacket, knowing the “rules of the road” in water navigation, and performing equipment checks can all help to ensure safety.   This poster from the water safety campaign of the National Safety Council includes helpful information:  https://safeboatingcampaign.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/nsbc-wear-it-fact-sheet-boating-safety-tips.pdf

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the toddler years have a higher drowning risk than any other time.  Drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children ages 1-4.  Preventing unintended, unsupervised access to water is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce drowning deaths among young children.   Visit this site for many helpful tips:


Mosquito Borne and Tick-Borne illnesses: 

Increased time in the outdoors can result in exposure to mosquitos and ticks.  Preventive approaches and awareness of symptoms are timely topics for summer health education materials.  

Mosquito-borne diseases include Zika, dengue, West Nile, and Chicungunya virus.  Tips to prevent mosquito bites from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include dressing in light-colored clothing, long pants, and long sleeves; avoiding areas where mosquitoes are present; and taking other actions such as removing sources of standing water to prevent breeding can also help.  The EPA site also includes information on types of repellents to protect against mosquito-borne illnesses. https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/using-repellent-products-protect-against-mosquito-borne-illnesses

Tick-borne diseases are a significant public health problem.  While Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness, other illnesses – babesiosis, human granulocytic anaplasomosis (formerly called granulocytic erlechiosis) and human monocytic erlechiosis – are also transmitted by the deer tick.  The American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Prevention guidelines and proper techniques for removal of a tick can become a valuable teaching poster: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

The EPA has a website tool that provides guidance on which insect repellant is most effective based on the insects it repels, duration of exposure, season, and regions of county.  https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

Another resource is from Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/outdoor-safety/mosquito-and-tick-diseases-guide/


Back to School Health:

For children and their parents, the transition of going from summer days to school days may be associated with both anticipation and anxiety.   One article, 10 Ways To Help Kids Handle Back-to-School Anxiety: Teacher Tips for Parents addresses back to school anxiety:  https://www.teacherlists.com/blog/10-ways-to-help-kids-handle-back-to-school-anxiety/

Getting back into routines and a regular sleep schedule can make the transition easier.  Several sites have tips emphasizing healthy activities and preparation:  https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/tip-back-to-school.pdf


Back to school often means using a backpack to carry books and lunches.  Backpacks that are too heavy can cause back, neck and shoulder pain as well as poor posture.  Points about choosing a good backpack and minimizing weight can be part of your teaching content for promoting back to school health: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety/backpacks


Visit our FaceBook and Linked-In pages: share information about your health ministries and join in conversations and postings. 



Previous issues of the newsletter
Use previous year’s monthly newsletters to aid your search for links to resources on health ministries and wellness topics: http://www.ucc.org/ucc_faith_community_nurse_network_newsletter

Contact us:

  • Have something you want to share with your colleagues?
  • Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry? 
  • Interested in joining the Leadership Team for the Wellness Ministries of the UCC?

Let us hear from you.

Alyson Breisch and/or Deb Stankiewicz