About ICHM Canada
THE HISTORY OF InterChurch Health Ministries Canada
The inception of our ministries occurred in 1994 with the development of a focus group under the leadership of Maureen MacLeod, the Reverend Audrey Fisher and the Reverend Henry Fischer. They shared the concept of "Parish Nursing" within the context of the Church's call and challenge in health and healing ministries. They invited members of the community who had a common commitment and/or involvement with the issues of health and wellness as well as a personal commitment to their faith expressed by their participation and involvement in their congregation or parish.
The focus group struggled for almost a year with the concept of Parish Nursing and the Church's role in health. They dealt with questions like:
- How would it work in Canada?
- Did it duplicate existing services?
- Was there a need?
- What about funding?
In response to the leading of the Holy Spirit, the focus group became the Interim Board of what has become InterChurch Health Ministries Canada, now incorporated as a not for profit charitable organization. The Interim Board identified the following mission that has shaped the organization and its ministry:
"InterChurch Health Ministries Canada is a group of Christian congregations who share the belief that in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ we have a unique responsibility and contribution to make in the health of the community."
During 1995, the emphasis for the activities of the fledgling ministry was the initiation and development of a pilot project in five congregations with volunteer nurses for a one-year period. The basis for selection of the congregations was diversity: downtown and suburban, rural and urban locations, large and small memberships. The denominational backgrounds included Anglican, Lutheran and United. The support of the clergy and the availability of a volunteer nurse were prerequisites.
Resources and a basic manual were developed to assist congregations in establishing Health Committees, choosing a Parish Nurse and preparing congregations for the concept of a Health and Healing Ministry supported by a Parish Nurse Ministry. Intensive training and educational sessions were provided and included the Parish Nurses, Clergy and Health Committee members of the five congregations. The goals of the program were to integrate faith and health in the context of congregational life and pastoral care.
Throughout the pilot phase, intensive research and evaluation were done with the Nurses, Clergy, Health Committees and congregations. With a grant from Emmanuel College of Victoria University in Toronto, we published our findings in the document "Pioneers in Parish Nursing in Canada". Our research resulted in the development of our current model that is:
- Congregationally driven
- Theologically based
- Mission and Ministry focused
- Within the framework of inter church partnerships
Since 1995 our ministry has expanded in Ontario from the five pilot congregations and Parish Nurses to over sixty congregations and parishes representing fifteen different denominations with affiliates in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
We believe that we are not so much leading the development of Parish Nurse Ministry as we ourselves are being led. We believe that Parish Nursing Ministry is a unique ministry whose time has come. We believe this is a remarkable opportunity for ministry as we creatively search for paths to take us faithfully into the next millennium.
ICHM Canada has been served by the following Executive Directors:
Rev. Audrey Fisher, Rev. Henry Fischer, Rev. Tom Doherty
ICHM Canada has been served by the following National Education Directors:
Valerie Jenkins, Gail Brimbecom
ICHM Canada has been served by the following Regional Directors:
New Brunswick: Sr. Ernestine LaPlante
Ontario: Rev. Henry Fischer, Rev. Tom Doherty
Saskatchewan: Rev. Harold and Elaine Hesje
ICHM Canada has been served by the following Regional Parish Nurse Coordinators:
New Brunswick: Nancy Wiggins
Ontario: Gail Brimbecom, Suzanne Blake and Margaret Grepe, Beth Lettner, Valerie Jenkins, Karen Marks
Saskatchewan: Deb Vezina, Mary Tyler