Faith community nurses are currently registered nurses who provide holistic care to individuals and whanau/families using nursing knowledge combined with spiritual care. They practice within a church pastoral setting and provide an outreach ministry to their local community.
How can a Faith Community Nurse support the Pastor/Priest
God commands that we ‘love our neighbour’ (Mark 12: 30-31) and when we do ‘love one another’ it is a powerful witness of God’s love and grace to the world we live in (John 13:35).
The Church is commanded by Christ ‘to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick’ (Luke 9:2). Healing activities made up a large part of Jesus’ ministry. He healed people from various conditions and that healing was physical, mental and spiritual in nature (Matthew 15: 30), enabling people to be restored to their communities, to resume their role within whanau/family and community, thus glorifying God and achieving their potential.
In New Zealand society today, we have an ageing population, a high suicide rate, loneliness and a rising level of anxiety and depression. The health system has greater demands due the high incidence of chronic conditions its geographical challenge and the impact of the Covid pandemic which has also stretched its resources.
Tangata whenua view holistic health as including the physical, mental, whanau/family and spiritual elements. Nurses are highly trusted and a Faith Community Nurse (FCN) has the nursing knowledge and Christian faith to address each of these aspects of the wellbeing of an individual or whanau/family group within our communities.
FCNs add to the church’s ministry by:
- Fulfilling the historical care of the church to the community, both within the church and reaching out in their local area
- Having the time and desire to spend time with people which the secular world cannot offer
- Using their skills to find appropriate resources or make referrals to those who can address concerns
- Providing long-term continuity in one of the few consistent communities available, namely, the Church
- Being part of the ministry team working alongside the pastoral team
- Being a professional with boundaries governed by a trusted body, the Nursing Council of New Zealand
- Bringing their individual skills, enthusiasm and faith to the church and working within its setting
- Providing individual health counselling, advocacy, support, prayer, health education
- Providing outreach opportunities such as foot clinics or blood pressure monitoring sessions
- Maintaining and developing their skills by links with New Zealand Faith Community Nurses Association (NZFCNA) and other FCNs globally
‘An FCN is a professional registered nurse who is passionate about caring for the whole person attending to body, mind and spirit. They bring professional knowledge and skills which they couple with their Christian faith and their unique qualities and gifts, to show God’s love to people in practical ways that nurture whole health, right relationships and connected community.’
Dr Anne Van Loon, Australian Faith Community Nurses Association