The healing ministry of the church has its antecedents in Judaism. Health, healing and wholeness were part of the spiritual heritage in which Jesus healed and ministered to men, women and children. Christ’s church was commissioned to be an agent for healing. Individuals were identified to carry out this ministry. They provided care, showed compassion, and offered support and counsel. Jesus’life on earth was a life of health, in communion with nature and with God. How did Jesus heal?
The Gospel writers often introduce Jesus’attitude toward the sick as one of compassion.
Faith is the most recorded quality connected with the impartation of healing power. ICHM follows the examples of Jesus in faith and compassion and seeks to build expertise and resources to ensure a vibrant Health & Healing Ministry built from the following living ‘bricks’:
- Integrator of Faith and Health – Works to improve health of body, mind, spirit, community and creation.
- Health Promotion and Education – Provides opportunities to learn about health issues
- Health Counselor – Discusses health concerns, emphasizing early response to problems and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
- Referral Resource – Provides referrals to existing healthcare and social services.
- Health Advocate – Speaks out to help others obtain needed health services.
- Developer of Support Groups – Facilitates the development of support groups
- Trainer of Volunteers – “multiplies the ministers” by recognizing gifts of others and preparing them for ministry.
- Interpret the function which faith plays in the well-being of individuals and communities.
- Offer support and encouragement during times of crisis and celebration.
- Focus on health promotion and disease prevention.
- Provide referral information, advocacy, and coordination of services.
Within the Health & Healing Ministry, ICHM provides specific resource and support for the:
Parish Nursing Ministry
The ministry of a Parish Nurse is a health care ministry/practice within the context of the life and mission of a local congregation or agency. These congregations, which reclaim their role in health and healing, understand the link between health and faith as part of their mission. The parish nurse is called to become part of the ministry team, to encourage each individual’s physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being in terms of their relationship with God, family and neighbour. A parish nurse is a registered nurse with specialized knowledge, who is called to ministry and affirmed by a faith community to promote health, healing and wholeness.
Nancy Gordon (right) is the Parish Nurse at Bloor Street and Bathurst United Churches. Photography credit: H. Durnford
The ministry of serving older adults extends beyond traditional health services to: help seniors and their families deal with difficult transitions; provide counsel and comfort to people dealing with loss in order to help them navigate the fragile balance of medical and spiritual needs; help elderly congregants maintain quality of life, avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency room, and help those who wish to do so remain in their own homes for as long as they choose.
84% of Canadians have no access to free, quality end of life care. ICHM is working toward enabling Health & Healing Ministries to successfully deliver hospice (palliative care) to members of their community, and those who love them, who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Hospice is not a place; it is a philosophy of care that promotes a non-judgemental approach to decisions involving the end of life experience and that puts the control of the journey in the hands of those walking the distressing path.
There is no better community than a faith community to exemplify as Bishop Desmond Tutu has been quoted as saying:
“The prospect of facing a terminal illness and all the physical and emotional suffering that it entails is daunting for anyone. No one should have to face that without any support to relieve their symptoms and pain, calm their anxiety and help them and their family to cope with the situation. But that is the exact situation for millions of people around the world who are living with a terminal illness without any access to hospice and palliative care. There are many countries in the world where hospice and palliative care services barely even exist at all. I urge individuals and governments to take action to change this situation and stop this unbearable suffering.” – Bishop Desmond Tutu
At Risk Ministry: In Congregations and Communities
Consideration of the definition and measurements of “at risk” acts as the foundation of this ministry within an ICHM Health & Healing Ministry. At Risk Ministry is one of the most powerful and impactful ministries for each and every one of our Partners as it can bring support and awareness to its entire community. The resource provided to build a successful At Risk Ministry focuses on: the definitions and measurements of poverty and disenfranchisement; negative experiences lived by those considered “at risk”and how to alleviate their consequences; as well as other quality of life indicators. From creating forums and events within the church walls to mobilizing volunteers to go out into the community at large, ICHM sees At Risk Ministry as one of its fastest growing areas of impact.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
Inspiring Women to Change their lives! This ministry is focused very specifically on the role women play in the family unit, faith community and society at large. It is founded in the belief that even the most marginalized woman can be empowered to earn and save money, improve her health and well-being as well as the health and well-being of those for whom she cares, influence decisions in her home and community, and connect to networks for support. By providing skills, knowledge, and resources, she is able to create sustainable change for herself, her family, and community.
The Ripple Effect
Statistical research demonstrates the power and influence women have in society: Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care－80% of health care purchases! But it is not just about the economic power of women; it is also about the number of women who are willing to volunteer time and talent to help others.