Why is there such a stark discrepancy between the terms health and healthy churches? Shouldn’t there be more interwoven similarities between the two? Amy Hanson, a strong promoter of faith community nursing, looked at this very issue in her state of Indiana. In the Fall 2017 Issue of Perspectives, Amy shared her experience with supporting health in faith communities through the Faithful Families program.
Health is often defined as “absence from disease” or “soundness of body and mind”, whereas a Google search of healthy church identifies characteristics such as leadership, teaching of doctrine, faithfulness, and servants. After exploring this discrepency further, and in relation to local churches in Indiana, time and effort was spent to find evidenced-based programs and a wellness curriculum. Faithful Families met desired criteria and became the foundation for a pilot program. Through directed efforts, three churches were chosen to be recipients of a two-year grant.
“Specifically, this grant will include training facilitators in the Faithful Families curriculum, as well as funding for creating a culture that leads to improvement of physical health. Each pilot will be customized to each individual congregational setting.”
To help identify the strengths and focus areas, Faithful Families created an assessment tool which focuses on infrastructure, partnerships and programs, people, physical activity, and nutrition. This tool, along with an evaluation tool, will help develop a “sustainable culture of wellness within the church”. Ms. Hanson is very excited and encouraged as she watches this process from the initial assessment and implementation stage through to future evaluations. “We continue to explore ways in which we can incorporate healthy churches to include a broader approach of leadership, faithfulness, and servanthood as well as vigor, strength, and stamina. Healthy churches with healthy members creates healthy spaces for people to serve and transform their community.”
Perspectives is a quarterly newsletter for faith community nurses and others interested in the specialized practice and health ministry of faith community nursing. The newsletter shares research news, educational articles, and practical stories about the difference faith community nursing makes. The newsletter is published by the Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing.
Amy Hanson is the faith community coordinator for the Welborn Baptist Foundation. A registered nurse since, 1989, she has worked in a variety of settings including bedside nursing, home care, outpatient clinic, worksite wellness, and community clinics. Since 2011, Amy has worked to promote health and wellness in the church and community and the promotion of faith community nursing. She serves at the vice chair for the Tri-State Health Ministry Association, is a member of HMA, and serves as an educator for the Foundations in Faith Community Nursing program affiliated with Vincennes University–Jasper Campus.