Is there a historical connection between faith communities and health?

Yes. Over the past decades, medical researchers have reported a statistically significant association between health and religion.

People who pray, meditate and go to church are not only more resistant to disease but live longer and recover from operations more quickly.

Even though it may not be intentional, there are healthy effects provided from being a religious person.

The root word of healing and healer is ‘hael,’ which means to facilitate movement towards wholeness or to make whole on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.

Healing might be defined as being in right relationship with self, a higher power and others. A Christian assumption is that all healing comes from God and that healing is always possible, while cure, which implies the elimination of disease and its symptoms, is not always possible.

The Canadian health care system is complicated making it difficult to know about all services that are available. When we are ill, it can be difficult to advocate for ourselves. Family may not know how to help.

A Parish Nurse can help people navigate the health care system, while advocating for and supporting them in a wholistic way, including the spiritual and religious aspects of their lives that contribute to health and healing.

Together, we are creating a future where community care and our traditional health care system work in harmony to ensure that every member of our respective human family receives quality care, defined as ‘effective, safe, coordinated and patient-centered.’

What is a Parish Nurse?

A parish nurse is a registered nurse with current registration in the province in which she practices. Nursing is a regulated profession, and current registration ensures that the public is receiving safe and competent care. The registered nurse who works as a parish nurse works with individuals and groups within the congregation. She carries out the initial contact with the parishioner or, client. The parish nurse is specifically educated utilizing a thoroughly researched curriculum developed by experts from the church Health Centre in Memphis, TN. This 26-module program prepares nurses for evidence-based, faith community nursing practice.

The nurses learn to comprehensively assess and define wholistic health needs, teach and promote health, support and direct clients to the most appropriate care providers.

While assisting the client to achieve an optimum level of functioning, the parish nurse, with her mature faith, is in a unique position to promote the underlying spiritual understanding of the connection between health and faith.

Who is InterChurch Health Ministries (ICHM) Canada?

The concept of ICHM Canada was launched in Durham Region in 1994 and is now incorporated as a non-profit, charitable organization in the Province of Ontario. You can read more about our history here. The initial pilot project of five congregations (1995-96) has grown to over 60 partnerships in Ontario representing 16 different denominations. ICHM Canada is also affiliated with ICHM Saskatchewan. ICHM Canada is a partner with the International Parish Nurse Resource Centre in Memphis, TN. It is from this Centre that we receive our parish nurse education program curriculum.

ICHM Canada is a member of the Canadian Association for Parish Nursing Ministry (CAPNM) and partners with Emmanuel College,University of Toronto for the delivery of our education program. A governing Board oversees the ministry, currently supported by a core staff team of three. ICHM Canada is funded by a combination of partnership fees, grants, individual gifts and fundraising events. Read more about how you can support us here.

Why Partnership vs Membership?

The ICHM Canada model is built on the concept of mutual ministry through partnership. Together we are stronger than we are individually and can mutually benefit from each others’ strengths.

  • Partnership with ICHM Canada ensures that your parish nurse, health committee and clergy do not work in isolation as they develop a ministry of health and healing in the church
  • ICHM Canada’s inter-church partnership structure, including diverse Christian denominations, encourages ecumenical relationships whose common vision is the church as a healing place
  • Through partnership fees, congregations and agencies participate and share in the innovative ministry of ICHM Canada as it delivers its parish nursing ministry education program, provides support services and continues its developmental work
  • ICHM Canada has been developing resources for our partners’ use since 1995

What Matters to ICHM Canada & Guides Our Action?

Our VALUES as listed here.

  1. Healing ministries following Christ’s example
  2. Wholistic health for all, encompassing the physical, psychosocial and spiritual
  3. Continued learning through education and support
  4. Congregationally driven, theologically based & mission focused health & healing ministries
  5. The inclusion of a parish nurse within a congregation’s ministry
  6. Collaborative partnerships to promote healthy communities