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Parish nursing snapshot: Fort Worth, Texas.

University Christian Church (UCC) is one of the largest Disciples of Christ churches in the US, located near the campus of Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth.

Texas is rich in talented registered nurses who are unpaid professionals. For about 15 years, UCC Parish Nurses have been a caring presence, offering a wonderful combinations of expertise. Grateful members in our congregation gave two AED machines to be placed in vital areas of the church. CPR courses are offered each year, so a number are certified in CPR. Each Sunday, on a rotating basis, one Parish Nurse is scheduled to be present to the congregation. Listening and caring are paramount to what we do. Our comfortable, bright office has an office scale for weighing, a wide range of printed materials, and space allowing privacy to confer, to take blood pressures and to pray with individuals.

Our Parish Nurse Coordinator, Joanie Grimm, RN, began offering Faithfully Fit Forever classes, consisting of 40 minutes of aerobics, weights and resistance band work, along with 20 minutes of devotion and health education. Classes meet for one hour, three times a week at the church year -round. Lay members who lead these classes were trained by Joanie. She also schedules the blood drives, flu shots. health fairs, along with Sunday and Wednesday morning office staffing. Joanie and her daughter, Gail Murray, also facilitate the prayer bead ministry, giving beads to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth Chaplain's Office staff to give to people and families who are hurting. They are tangible evidence of God's love. Gail Murray also highlights our ministry by keeping our Parish Nurse Bulletin Board up to date.


Earlier this year, the nurses utilized a self-assessment tool called PLACE to learn their unique gifts and talents, and then to share their unique talents in the church.

Joanie Grimm, assisted by Carole Widmann RN, MS, organized a course for people and their dogs in our congregation/community to be certified to visit schools and Care Centers. These certified dogs and their owners bring joy to those in our community.

Carole Widmann is also active along with Dianne Hawley, RN, PhD and Tracy McCrary, RN, MBA, in providing care to homeless people who visit the nurses office individually for health checks. They are given prayer beads and referred when they need medical care. The homeless especially enjoy dinner at the church, time with the therapy dogs, a good night's sleep in a safe place, and breakfast the next morning. Each person is also given a brown bag lunch.

Shelagh Larson, RN, BSN,MS, Nurse Practitioner, specializes in Women's Health. She offers lectures at the church, most recently on Understanding Menopause. Diane Hawley, RN PhD, TCU Professor, offers a seminar on Cardiac Health each year at the church.

Chelo Graham, RN, BS who is bilingual, and Board Certified in Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing as well as Certified Prevention Specialist in Chemical Dependency, was named the Outstanding Nurse of the Year at John Peter Smith Hospital, Fort Worth. She inspires us and makes us proud.

Rowena Wooters, RN, MS, past Director of Community Health Nurses in Fort Worth wrote an Emergency Plan for our church and community, which includes Texas Christian University Police and the Fort Worth Fire Department. Rowena's expertise prepared us and other agencies to know what we each can provide in emergencies.

Jane Bruckner, RN, BSN, MLA, led a six week class on how to write one's personal life story while discovering how God is in it. People in the congregation who took the course enthusiastically told others, which led to Jane's being invited to present this topic to a Sunday School class during January.

Other nurses help in so many ways:

Phyllis Allen, RN, MS; Nikki Berry RN, MS, NP; Teri Brewer RN, MEd; Angela Cole RN, BSN; Eve Hunter, RN, BSN; Sherry Koch, RN, BSN; and Cheryl Strange RN, BSN.

Our church covenants with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth for ongoing congregational health support and education. We value the direction provided by Paulette Golden RN, MS, Director of Community Health and also, the Chaplains Office of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital.

In February 2011 the hospital engaged The Rev. Terry Hershey to speak at their Faith Community Leadership Summit from his book: The Power of the Pause: Becoming More By Doing Less. He and other speakers, including Texas Poet Laureate Karen K. Morton, helped us tune into what is important and how to care for ourselves. We also attend monthly networking meetings at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth with faith community nurses from other area churches.

On May 6, 2011 we were inspired and renewed by spending the day at Texas Health Faith Community Workshop, Fort Worth, with Nancy Durbin, RN, MS, Director, Advocate HealthCare Parish Nurse Ministry, from Park Ridge, Illinois. She gave us tools to validate our practice, while focusing on the intentional care of the spirit as part of the process of promoting holistic health to prevent or minimize illness in a faith community.

Our church covenants with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth for ongoing congregational health support and education.

We value the direction provided by Paulette Golden RN, MS, Director of Community Health and also, the Chaplains Office of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth.

Contributed by:

Jane Austin Bruckner, RN, BSN, MLA

Parish Nurse at University Christian Church

Fort Worth, Texas

For more information, please contact Jane at
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Author:Bruckner, Jane Austin
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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