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Introduction

This is a partnership of experts. Churches are the experts when it comes to framing theology within the context of life, its joys, and its struggles. These expert s know what it is that their congregation needs and hungers to discover about God and about themselves.

Healthcare institutions, especially faith based institutions like Penrose-St. Francis are experts about health, sickness and well-being. We are expert at helping patients see the relationship between lifestyle  and potential disease. Prevention, we know,  is an upstream battle and includes acknowledging the warning signs of physical, emotional and spiritual disease.

This toolkit is a result of a pilot project that brings together this partnership of expertise in an engaging and dynamic process that has increased the level of energy and insight around health and healing and living a fuller life.

Below you will find the following information:

Greeting and Introduction Letter

Perspectives

New Territory - New Possibilities

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Greeting and Introduction letter from VP Mission Integration, Larry Seidl

Dear Partner in Healing,

Often an article in a newspaper, a movie, or a comment by an inspired church member provides the catalyst for a creative thought.  It was a prose piece, author unknown, that got a number of us thinking.

That prose piece is as follows:

 “IN THE BEGINNING WAS RELIGION, AND ONE OF THE PURPOSES OF RELIGION WAS TO HEAL. THROUGH THE COURSE OF CENTURIES IT CAME TO PASS THAT HEALING BY THE PRIESTS OF RELIGION WAS GIVEN OVER TO HEALING BY THE PHYSICIANS OF MEDICINE. THUS DID A NEW RELIGION ARISE: THE MEDICAL RELIGION.
SOME OF ITS PRACTITIONERS SPECIALISED IN THE BODY  AND ITS ORGANS: OTHERS SPECIALIZED IN THE MIND AND ITS PROPER WORKING. AS FOR THE PRIESTS OF THE OLD RELIGION, THEIR MINISTRY OF  HEALING WAS REPLACED BY A MINISTRY OF CONSOLATION IN SICKNESS AND PREPARATION FOR DEATH. IN THESE LATTER DAYS, VOICES HAVE BEEN HEARD  IN THE LAND CRYING “CANNOT RELIGION GO BEYOND CONSOLATION? IS THERE NOT MORE THAN THAT FOR RELIGION TO DO IN HEALTH CARE?”

In a series of meetings with local clergy that prose took focus.  It also found an abundance of new energy for a health ministry, reconfigured or new.  As we continued to explore the idea the issue became clearer and clearer. “What might happen if our areas of expertise mutually discovered a continued partnership between our health and well-being and a person’s faith?”

This is a partnership of experts.  Churches are the experts when it comes to framing theology within the context of life, its joys, and its struggles.  You are the expert when it comes to knowing what it is that your congregation needs and hungers to discover about God and about themselves. 

Healthcare institutions, especially faith- based institutions like Penrose- St. Francis are experts about health, sickness and well-being.  We are expert at helping patients see the relationship between lifestyle and potential disease. Through a well-ordered process, disease is diagnosed, interventions are planned and the disease is either medically or surgically eradicated, or so is the hope.    

Unfortunately, it is often not prevented despite numerous physical, emotional and spiritual warning signs.

In the spring of 2011, a partnership began in a series of pilot programs in local churches.  The experience and success of that limited pilot program has led us to the development of the toolkit you have before you.  We will now take the pilot and move it out to be used in other communities.

The toolkit before you is a result of a pilot that is now the Church Health Project of Penrose –St. Francis Health Services. In this packet are the tools that will assist you today in viewing  the stated health needs of your congregation from a spiritual perspective.  It is hoped this engagement with your church brings a new level of energy and insight around health and healing.

Enclosed in this toolkit:

  • an overview of  the project, its rationale, its next generation thinking
  • an assessment tool along with the core group of 14 questions* 
  • resources for intentional health ministry
  • resources to sustain your church’s ongoing interest such as a sermon series, a bible study, Sunday school classes, individual studies and communication tools (bulletins and newsletters) which should allow you, your leadership team and your church to model good health
  • supportive articles for your reading

* For those outside the community, we have developed an option through which the “survey monkey” tool can be utilized for the spiritual well-being survey.

Our goal is promoting the health of a community or church by addressing spiritual well-being as a critical element of an individual’s health. There are no costs to your congregation.

INTRIGUED?  If you agree with us that a person’s spiritual well-being impacts their overall health, call us and we will set up time to explore this project with you and/or your leadership team. Together we can bring a sense of life to health and health to life as described in 3 John 2. “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health as I know you are well in spirit.”
 
Sincerely,
 
Lawrence G. Seidl
Group Vice President of Mission Integration

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Perspectives on Faith and Health

FAITH AND HEALTH CONNECTED
Pilot Church and Pastor Perspectives

Rev. Scott Lovaas LCSW, PhD : Broadmoor Community Church, Colorado Springs, CO

“I am impressed with Penrose Hospital mission of going upstream to deal with health care issues. They have been a long time pioneering leader in our community around issues of public health."

Rev. Tyg Taylor:  Trinity Lutheran Church, Monument, CO

“Seven years ago health ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church meant saying "bless you" when someone sneezed.  That all changed when Jackie Sward, a Faith community Nurse, began a new partnership with us under the loving direction of Penrose St. Francis Mission Outreach.   What began as monthly blood pressure checks and yearly flu clinics evolved into a congregational wide involvement in such events as suicide prevention training, healthy food Sundays, exercise accountability and so much more.  One of our highlights of this partnership with Penrose St. Francis has been the use of their "gizmos" as we have conducted two interactive events during worship getting real-time feedback concerning health ministry and the gifting of the Body of Christ.  Our congregation now sees health ministry not as something “extra” but rather as an integrated part of our daily life together.  We are grateful to the leadership and support from the team of Penrose St. Francis which has enabled us to move forward with passion and commitment that has led to greater health physically and spiritually.” 

Faith Evangelical Covenant Church: Colorado Springs, CO
Faith Community Nurse Article

Vital Signs of Spiritual Health:
Our nursing assessment of vital signs has core relevance for determining a patient’s physical health. Assessing spiritual vital signs, however, has less support from within advanced medical science to determine an “at risk’ patient or one “within normal limits” of health and wellness.  But spiritual and physical health is often bound together. Dr. Christine Puchalski, a frequent author on Spirituality and Health states, “While patients struggle with the physical aspects of disease, they have other pain as well: pain related to mental and spiritual suffering, to an ability to engage in the deepest questions of life.” The specialty of Faith Community Nursing centers is the intentional care of the spirit. Is there a connection with spiritual vital signs and these deeper questions of life? What does exposing these questions look like in a patient or in congregations at large? How do we begin to develop an innovative plan for personal or congregational education in promoting intentional and life-giving interventions?

At Faith Evangelical Covenant Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado we started this journey through a technological survey tool compiled by the spiritual care department of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. The questions included issues such as fear, forgiveness, relationships, loneliness, self-image and stress, which are believed to impact physical health and personal well-being. The questions were developed to bring forward intimate issues of spirituality not often discussed at a church pot-luck or over coffee before Sunday school. 

The church conducted the survey within a Sunday morning worship service in which the pastor’s sermon specifically addressed health in relationship to spirituality. The survey itself was displayed on a media screen and each person held an electronic tool, affectionately called the “gizmo,” with which to answer the questions.  Each of the twenty questions were read out loud and congregation participants had ten seconds to respond to each question by choosing from multiple answers. The responses were completely confidential and the results of each question displayed immediately. The whole process, including introducing the tool and survey along with answering the questions, took ten to fifteen minutes. The impact was immediate.

When the congregation saw the aggregate answers in the worship service, there were audible gasps. Because of the anonymity of the electronic tool, the normal fears of disclosure did not appear to come into play. The ten-second response time made the answers a natural reaction rather than reflective and thought out. The answers exposed spiritual issues along with a realization that we are not alone in our spiritual distress.

As Faith Community Nurses we frequently address high blood pressure and educate about flu shots and prevention, but this survey showed we should also address spiritual issues within a health context. The survey was not meant to be a comprehensive assessment tool, but rather a beginning place for discussion on health issues that relate to spiritual health concerns. It challenged the congregation to journey together and to increase intentional education on tough spiritual questions in our health ministry.

What are spiritual vital signs? The leadership team in collaboration with the nurse determined the need to explore the major concepts that were discovered in the survey at a deeper level.

Spiritual Vital Signs 

Questions

Significant authentic relationships

Are we a church that allows grace to permeate our relationships?

Ability to give and receive forgiveness

Do we have opportunities for authentic, life giving fellowship?

Faith that brings hope

Does our church offer visions of life from scriptural study?

Sense of healthy self-worth

Are we willing to explore healing and self-care as the biblical mandate that it is?

Connectedness with community

How does God’s love emerge from our congregation to our community?

Coping mechanisms in place for unhealthy stress

Do we believe that scripture can and does provide stress reduction options that will affect our overall health?

 

Leadership was eager to devote an adult Sunday school class*(included in toolkit) to explore these results. Susan Martins Miller, who co-authored the book Health Care you can Live With by Dr. Scott Morris, prepared a curriculum. Miller partnered with the Faith Community Nurse from the congregation to teach the Sunday school class as a pilot. In his book, Dr. Morris advocates for health that incorporates a holistic scriptural approach as well as a Mind, Body, Spirit philosophy. A core element of the book is the scriptural virtues of Colossians 3:12–14: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love. Morris also outlines a “Model of Healthy Living” that includes Nutrition, Work, Movement, Medical, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Faith Life. “Abundant Life and Real Life—Finding Where They Meet” is the charge of the curriculum that carried principles of the book into an adult learning setting. Class sessions partnered the scriptural mandate to health and healing with a practical “how do I respond?”

What can we learn professionally from this new program? This church learned they are willing to take a journey of health. An intimate look at deeper spiritual questions expresses the journey toward health as a critical dimension of the gospel. It is a journey that can find us walking alone, but in search of community, friends and family as well as our place of worship to come alongside. Wellness is a pursuit of the wholeness God wants for us. As Faith Community Nurses we discovered our assessment of health demands new creativity but continue to place us in the very intimate deep questions of life.


Cynthia Wacker RN, MSN/Ed, FCN

Parish Nurse Perspectives Newsletter - Winter 2011 Issue

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New Territory - New Possibilites

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