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Healing ministries on Chicago's North Shore.


I am a Parish Nurse at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston and affiliated with Advocate Lutheran General's Parish Nurse Program. First Presbyterian Church of Evanston is a reformed evangelical church located on Chicago's North Shore. Currently there are about 920 members and considerable variety of ministries. Healing ministries are varied in our church and in other congregations. They include praying for the sick, visiting the hospitalized and calling on people who are in nursing homes or homebound. A great deal of any clergypersons time and volunteer work is spent supporting those with health issues; therefore, health related ministry is an integral part of every congregation's outreach.

I have been the first and only Parish Nurse here for 3 years. As statistics support the necessity of health ministry in the church setting, I have worked to facilitate the healing mission of our congregation. I am an active member of our staff ensuring that I am increasingly aware of the ongoing needs of our congregation. I meet on a monthly basis with the Pastoral Care Council to communicate upcoming events and share ideas with other council ministries. I also maintain a position on the Senior Varsity committee to bring a variety of events to the senior citizens of our community. This year I also distributed a Health survey to the congregation. This tool has been, and will continue to be, extremely instrumental in my ministry.

I continuously serve as a personal health counselor, whether it is via the phone, office visits, home visits, or hospital and nursing home visits. Chronic disease, mental health seeking behaviors, financial and spiritual issues are the most common purposes for my interactions. As the economy persists in taking its toll, I believe we will see that the congregation finds comfort in turning to their church for guidance and support.

I persist in developing and strengthening relationships with many community resources. As Advocate Parish Nurses, we meet monthly to share our resources and creativity to give the best opportunities to people experiencing hardships. We are also educated on a variety of topics, so that our knowledge is always current and expanding.

Health Education has been emphasized through articles in our monthly newsletter, flu shot clinics and several other successful programs. We had the church's first exercise program, had an AED installed, ran an environmental recycling event, and sponsored/hosted a two day event on the topic of Alzheimer's.

I work diligently at communicating with other ministries in the church to match up volunteers from our Friends in Christ program, distributing prayer shawls or facilitating Stephen Ministry relationships. This years I was able to coordinate with our Youth Group to paint an elderly clients apartment so that she could start the process of moving. I also created and help maintain a monthly Caregivers Support Group that is available to members of our congregation and people from the external community.

Working as a health advocate, being the client's voice when they seem to have none, is an essential role for me. It may seem routine to us, but accompanying clients to doctor's appointments, court dates, potential housing locations or communicating with agencies to get answers to hard questions is indispensable to them.

As this world is constantly changing, it is inevitable that there will be members of our church and community, who are uninsured, have no savings or no family support. They are looking to the church as a lifeline to provide loving and healing support.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just

By Julie Ruchniewicz, RN

Julie Ruchniewicz, RN

Parish Nurse

First Presbyterian Church

Evanston, Illinois
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Author:Ruchniewicz, Julie
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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