Mind Body Spirit – Mar-Apr 2020


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

March-April 2020, Vol. 5 Issue 2


“If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.”
 “So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be.”
“A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay.”
“March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers.”

Weather folklore sayings may be based on careful observations and turn out to be accurate while others are merely rhymes or reflect beliefs that weather, like life, should be a balance.  This time of year abounds with weather fluctuations.  Here in NC, we had a snow dusting last week, last night’s thunderstorm was accompanied with high winds, and tomorrow the temperature is forecast to be 72 degrees!   A stroll outdoors finds spring bulbs pushing through the ground (or already in full bloom).  Trees are budding leaves and the spring peepers are chirping at morning’s dawn and dusk.   We too are changing in this new season.  May it be a time of discovery, exploration, and balance. 


Ash Wednesday worship services on February 26th marked the onset of this year’s 40-day period of fasting, penitence, and confession.  The Lenten season invites us to incorporate spiritual practices into our patterns of daily life.  It is an opportunity to turn away from possessions and practices that distract us and redirect our focus on service and gaining new insight as we journey toward Easter.  

Reflective reading can be a transformative part of daily spiritual rituals during Lent.  Here are several book suggestions to consider:

  1. Forty Days to a Closer Walk with Jesus: The Practice of Centering Prayer by J. David Muskens. Each day offers a scripture reading and meditation. 
  2. Traveling the Prayer Paths of Jesus by John Indermark. The book offers an exercise for spiritual formation and prayer for each day.  It also includes a leader’s guide for using the book for a six-week small group study. 
  3. The Overload syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits by Richard A. Swenson. While the book is over 20 years old, it still offers insight to the excesses in our lives that result in “margin-less lives”. He describes different kinds of overload (accessibility, activity & commitment, change & stress, choice & decision, debt, expectation, hurry & fatigue, information & education, media, possession, work, etc.) and provides practical prescriptions for restoring margin to overloaded lives.
  4. Deliver Us, the 2020 Lenten Devotional from the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group is available on the UCC website as single copies or 5-Pack: https://www.uccresources.com/products/deliver-us-2020-lenten-devotional-stillspeaking-writers-group?variant=31626958536767



Certified Nurses Day, celebrated on March 19, is an annual day of recognition dedicated to nursing professionalism, excellence, recognition, and service.   162 faith community nurses achieved certification by portfolio through ANCC.  If you have a colleague that is a certified FCN, send a note recognizing this accomplishment and expressing gratitude for their commitment to excellence in nursing. 

03_ColorectalCancer.pngColorectal Cancer Awareness:  March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.   This year 135,000 Americans will be diagnosed.  Most colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous if not removed.   Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people 50 years or older. However incidence in those younger than 50 is on the rise.  Regular screening, beginning at age 50 – or younger if there is a family history of early presentation – is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. Only about two-thirds of adults in the United States are up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening.

The CDC website offers information on colorectal cancer symptoms, screening, risk factors and how to lower risk, statistics, and resources: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/

Learn more about the CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) which is intended to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among people between 50 and 75 years of age by:

A short video produced by CDC called Community Garden is available that uses animation to counter common myths about colorectal cancer screening. The video discusses who should get screened at what age, how screening helps prevent colorectal cancer, and important information about screening test options: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lpmTuJWaLQ

You can also spread the word that colorectal cancer screening saves lives with posts on social media: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/resources/social-media.htm

Healthy Sleep:   Continuing from last issue’s topic about sleep in the Wellness Ministries Moment, March focuses on National Sleep Awareness Week (March 8-14, 2020) and Sleep Awareness Month!  This year’s theme “Begin with Sleep” highlights the importance of good sleep health for individuals to best achieve their personal, family, and professional goals. This is the perfect time to implement healthy sleep habits and think about what you can do to get a good night’s rest and also get quality sleep.  Find helpful information here: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/sleep-awareness-week-2019

The National Sleep Foundation will release the results of its annual Sleep in America® poll on March 8th.  It includes specific topics of interest such as: Children and Sleep, Women and Sleep, and Technology and Sleep.  Check for this year’s findings after March 8th: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/professionals/sleep-america-polls

Speaking of sleep. . . on Sunday, March 7, 2020 Daylight Savings Time begins at 2:00 A.M. Remember to “spring forward” in the spring and set your clocks forward one hour (losing one hour of sleep). 



04_Tulip.jpgParkinson’s Disease Awareness:

Saturday, April 11, 2020 is World Parkinson’s Day.  By this year, there will be nearly 1 million people living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S. The tulip is the official symbol within the Parkinson’s community.  In 1980, J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a Dutch horticulturalist who had Parkinson’s disease, developed a red and white tulip. Van der Wereld named his prized flower, the ‘Dr. James Parkinson’ tulip, to honor the English apothecary surgeon who originally described Parkinson’s in 1812.

Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by:

  • Motor problems: Slowness of movement, rigidity, and tremor. Balance and gait problems may occur later in the course of illness. Some people may also experience decrease in facial expression, low voice volume, small handwriting, and difficulty with fine motor movements.
  • Non-motor symptoms: Depression and other emotional changes, difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems, sleep disruptions.

While symptoms such as slowness (bradykinesia), stiffness (rigidity), tremor, changes in voice quality and imbalance (postural instability) are characteristic of Parkinson’s disease, these same symptoms are often present in other movement disorders which effect the nervous system such as Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Vascular Parkinsonism to name a few. Certain medications can also cause pseudo-parkinsonism as a side effect.  If someone is experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease it is important to seek evaluation with a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders to rule out various disorders. Drug therapy is the first line of treatment for most of these conditions and getting the right diagnosis allows for the most effective medications to be prescribed.

There are also physical and speech therapy programs specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease. They are known as LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD. The LSVT BIG program drives high-intensity and high-effort practice in order to teach the amount of effort required to produce normal movements. The exercises translate into bigger movements in everyday activities. LSVT LOUD is a treatment for speech disorders associated with Parkinson’s disease. Follow these links to learn more about Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders of a parkinsonian nature, and LSVT.





https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3316992   (LSVT information)

The following link will help you to search for doctors who are movement disorders specialists in your area:  https://www.movementdisorders.org/MDS/Resources/.

Earth Day 2020: UCC Tree-planting Initiative: In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd, this year UCC is seeking to plant over 50,000 trees in ten days from April 17th to 26th.  In expanding the scope of collaborative efforts in 2020, the UCC’s Ministry of Environmental Justice has partnered with Interfaith Power and Light to make this tree planting campaign part of their Faith Climate Action Week. To participate, churches and their members can plant their own trees, or they can have trees planted on their behalf. The UCC has provided four options for organizations that can do the work for you. Additionally, worship resources are provided for congregations to celebrate the planting of trees. Learn more about the different possibilities and resources available.


Submitted by Deb Stankiewicz, MS, RN-BC, HTCP, First Congregational Church (UCC) Western Springs, Illinois

Churches are often on the frontlines when climate disasters occur, sometimes putting boots on the ground and sometimes just contributing financial support. They are also uniquely positioned to promote emergency preparedness within their buildings and in the homes of their members. At the congregation I serve, we have developed an emergency response policy. It delineates the roles and responses to be undertaken by staff and ushers in the event of member illness and regarding security breaches. Some churches have worked with their local police departments to implement Active Shooter Drills. As the parish nurse, I have collaborated with the local Fire Department to bring CPR/AED certification classes on campus for our ushers, youth ministry staff and church preschool teachers. We have purchased and placed AED (automatic external defibrillator) machines in the main areas of the campus. Pieces of equipment that can be accessed immediately such as wheelchairs are also strategically placed within the church buildings. We recently had a member who became ill at home and we were contacted by a neighbor of that person who was looking for emergency contact information. Having found none in the home, the wallet, or the mobile phone, she reached out to me. With that event our staff realized that we have very little of that kind of information in our possession about our members. As a result, this faith community nurse will be planning a seminar to address various vehicles for ensuring that emergency information is available at our  member’s homes and at the church. Follow these links for resource/program in formation on this important topic.







THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) is now a world-wide health concern.  As the course of this virus evolves, it is important for health and wellness ministries and faith community nurses in local congregations, associations, and conferences to provide accurate information to communities.  Regular review of these Web-based Resources related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) can provide ongoing updates:

Center for Disease Control (CDC) resources:

The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) web page.

CDC also has these two sites:

How COVID-19 spreads: 


COVID-19 symptoms:


American Nurses Association:



2020 Westberg Institute Annual Conference at the Caring for the Human Spirit Conference April 20-22, 2020 Santa Fe, New Mexico  https://westberginstitute.org/symposium2020/

Health Ministries Association Annual Conference, September 13-15, 2020
One Voice, One Vision: Wisdom for Healthier Communities, Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center, Techny, IL (Chicagoland)   https://hmassoc.org/

06_NYE2020logo.pngUCC National Youth Event: Youth from across the United Church of Christ are invited to UNITE! at this summer’s National Youth Event (NYE), July 22-25 in West Lafayette, Ind. The quadrennial event centered on the four pillars of faith, leadership, service and social justice is returning to the campus of Purdue University, with registration for groups now available on the National Youth Event website. 

The planning team has crafted a number of “Be the Church” small group conversations and more than 60 workshops.



An article, Sacred Space to Talk About Drug Use, in UCC’s Keeping You Posted (KYP) eblast of August 27, 2019, is about Harm Reduction.  Mike Schuenemeyer, Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy Ministries oversees this new effort in the national UCC setting to center on the voices of those with lived experience related to opioid and other substance use disorders.  Kudos to Peggy Matteson of the Wellness Ministries Leadership Team for her commentary in the article’s interview.  Peggy represents Wellness Ministries on the UCC task force that is developing tools and resources for congregations’ responses to the opioid crisis. 

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Post comments or share information about your health ministries; join in conversations. 

Contact us: Have something you want to share with your colleagues in the next issue of the newsletter? Are you looking for a resource to assist you in your ministry?  We’d enjoy hearing from you!

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:

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