ICHM Canada: over Twenty Years of Health Ministry
ICHM began in 1994 in Durham Region, Ontario with the development of a focus group under the leadership of Maureen MacLeod, the Rev. Audrey Fisher and the Rev. Henry Fischer.
They shared the concept of “Parish Nursing” within the context of the church’s call and challenge in health and healing ministries. In 1995, a pilot project was initiated in five congregations with five volunteer nurses for a one-year period. Since 1995, ICHM partner congregations expanded to over sixty congregations representing thirteen different denominations.
Since 2003, ICHM Canada also worked collaboratively with an affiliate in Saskatchewan. ICHM delivered Parish Nursing Ministry education programs in partnership with Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Ontario and Lutheran Theological Seminary, University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As of 2013, over 1,300 people have participated in parish nursing ministry education programs with 118 parish nurse, 55 parishioner and 3 clergy graduates of the program in Ontario.
Because of the vast distances that participants have had to travel to attend classes in Toronto, ICHM Canada was challenged to make its program more accessible. Though we strongly believed that participating in-class provided the best learning opportunity, we also recognized that distance delivery could replace weekly travel of up to ten hours round trip to Toronto!
For the first time in the fall of 2013, ICHM offered Level 1 both in class and simultaneously by web conferencing using Adobe Connect, augmented by one on-line module. ICHM was able to connect with students in Owen Sound and Pembroke in Ontario as well as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 2014, ICHM offered both Level 1 and Level 2 in this way so that they could connect with many more congregations and registered nurses across Ontario and Canada.
For anyone working in a College or University with a large technical department, this may not seem like a big deal! However, for a very small charitable organization that was both understaffed and dependent on volunteers, it is nothing short of amazing! Truly this came together in God’s time through the dedicated work of a small group of inspired, faith filled people with vision who built on past efforts and hold firm to a future that includes healing and wholeness for all.