Parish Nurse


Sue Neff, Parish Nurse at First Lutheran Church and Preschool, El Cajon, CA has been appointed to serve as the English District Parish Nurse Ministry Coordinator. Sue will provide regular articles on various parish health topics on this web site and in the Sycamorian. Sue stands ready to support English District congregations and schools in the parish nurse programs and to help congregations begin such ministries as well. Please feel free to contact Sue (see form at bottom of page) for services and support in this vital ministry area.

Parish Nursing

The Parish Nurse. How many of you have heard of Parish Nursing? How many of you know what a Parish Nurse does? If you are like most, your first question may very well be, “What changes will be taking place NOW?” I would like to offer an explanation of Parish Nursing in terms of its history and its renewed interest in churches today. From a historical perspective, the church has been in the business of whole person wellness since the days that Jesus walked on earth. The church was a place to come for healing of mind, body and spirit. Over the centuries, as technology progressed, the church found itself out of the business of healing the whole person. Its interest narrowed to the spiritual life of its members, leaving the physical and emotional well being to persons outside of the church. There was a divide created between the church and medicine. Today whole person wellness in the church is foreign to our ears. However, in the 1970’s a Lutheran pastor, Dr. Granger Westberg, committed to integrate mind, body and spiritual healing back into the church. His work as a hospital chaplain found that while people were being card for physically in the medical community, their emotional and spiritual needs were being overlooked. His research and study of whole person wellness resulted in what we know as the Parish Nurse ministry. Parish Nurses have four roles in the congregation: health educator, personal health counselor, coordinator of volunteers, and community liaison. Some things that a Parish Nurse does NOT do are to diagnose, prescribe, do any invasive procedure, or in any way take the place of the pastor or physician. In today’s society, where more than 50% of our hospital admissions are for preventable illness, and where health care is inaccessible for many of our population because of insurance issues or accessibility to a doctor, is it not prudent for us to reach people with information to keep them well? It is said that Parish Nurses have one foot in medicine and one in theology. He or she who can not only provide health resources, but also lend a listening ear and be spiritually nurturing will be an asset to the congregation. I am pleased and excited to be appointed to the position of Coordinator of Parish Nurse ministry in the English District. I have been a parish nurse since 1993, serving my home congregation, First Lutheran Church, El Cajon, California. I have served as the Coordinator of Parish Nurse ministry in the Pacific Southwest District since 1999. I am in my 40th year of marriage to Don, and we have one living child, Kelly, and two children who are in heaven, Tracy Lynn and Kyle David. I believe that through Parish Nursing, we can bring the ministry of presence to those who are ill, hurting, struggling and dying. I would be happy to assist you in any way that I can with questions or information regarding Parish Nursing. Sue Neff, Parish Nurse
Thought to Ponder... “Everyone has a story. Have the patience to listen, the wisdom to learn.” Mary Anne Radmacher