Category: Nursing

2023 Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course wraps up!

2024 Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course wraps up!

Our most recent Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course wrapped up on November 14, 2023 with seven registered nurses and two health ministers completing the course! We were blessed to have the expertise of 15 guest presenters throughout the six days, which greatly enriched the course.

We encourage our graduates to plug in to their local networks, many of which can be found on the Westberg Community Platform. We are excited to see where this knowledge takes these passionate individuals!

Bottom left:

  • Amanda Huston, RN, Faith Community Nurse, St. James Catholic Church, McMinnville, OR
  • Sadie Blau, Health Minister, No current affiliation, Lebanon, OR

Second row, left:

  • Kim Hawkins, RN, Faith Community Nurse, Battle Ground Health Care, Battleground, WA
  • Judi Imig, RN, Faith Community Nurse, Salem Alliance Church, Salem, OR
  • Julie Vaniman, Faith Community Nurse, First United Methodist Church of Olympia, Olympia, WA

Third row, left:

  • Myra Hurt, RN, Faith Community Nurse, Ogilville Christian Church, Columbus, IN
  • Linda Cutts, RN, Faith Community Nurse, No current affiliation, Walla Walla, WA
  • Patty O’Day, RN, Faith Community Nurse, Family Assistance and Resource Center, Sweet Home, OR

Top row, left:

  • Tawni Pfaff, Faith Community Nurse, Lead Educator, Zoom Co-Host, Faith Community Health Network
  • Deb Fell-Carlson, Faith Community Nurse, Lead Educator/Course Coordinator, Faith Community Health Network
  • Geeta Barr, Health Minister, Am HaSefer – People of the Book, Lebanon, OR/Salem, OR

We will be adjusting the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course schedule for 2024. Past attendees overwhelmingly want the course to continue on the Zoom platform, so we will stay with Zoom for 2024. The first two days of class will be November 11 & 12. We will meet on Monday, November 18 & Monday, November 25 for class days three and four, and will wrap up with the fifth and final days of class on December 2 & 3, 2024. We will also be offering the class at NO CHARGE for Oregon residents in Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties.

Spread the word and save the dates!

Flying in to Fall

Here we are at the end of September! Things have not slowed down for this busy team of passionate nurses and health ministers! Community health assessments are underway in several of our faith communities. This is an interesting project – and in most cases, full of surprises! – for those involved. We will be sharing some of those discoveries in our grant update to the Intercommunity Health Network Coordinated Care Organization’s Delivery Systems Transformation Team. That presentation is scheduled for later in October. More to come.

The Faith Community Health Network hosted the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce Friday Greeters on Friday, September 22, 2023. We had a great turnout and were able to let the business community know about our need to bring nurses into service in our faith communities and beyond. Deb delivered a peppy 15-minute presentation which was followed by a lively question and answer session and introductions and announcements all around.

We have an excellent educational session lined up for our September 27, 2023 meeting. Check it out on the Events page on our website. We also try to post them on the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce and on Eventbrite. Follow the Faith Community Health Network on Eventbrite to get notified when we schedule an educational offering!

We will be presenting at the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital Auxiliary Board Fall Luncheon and Annual Meeting on Friday, November 3, 2023 and are excited to be able to share our vision for faith community nursing with these active and passionate volunteers.

We are in the final days of registration for our annual Foundations of Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministry Course. If you are planning to attend and have not yet registered, please do so right away! We will need a couple of weeks of lead time to have books shipped to you, so registration will be closing in early October. Register here:

August & September Check In

Welcome! We are glad you are checking in!

We have had lots going on this summer. We didn’t make it to National Night Out… there was a brush fire RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from my house, complete with Level 3 evacuations. Minimal harm done… our excellent and relentless firefighters got on it quickly and had it out in less than two hours! We were sorry to miss the event, but I was too distracted to attend a community event, let alone be an exhibitor. We will be back next year!

One of our nurses hosted us for a wonderful gathering in her garden this summer. It was a time of refreshment for all of us. We enjoyed tasty delicacies made by our team and enjoyed the spiritual food found in fellowship. We have always enjoyed gathering together and hope to do more of it in the coming months!

We met with Conner Booth, Legislative Aide to Oregon Representative Jami Cate in early August to bring them up to speed on what we are doing to move faith community nursing forward in Linn County – and in Oregon and beyond. Representative Jami was unavailable – this is a busy harvest time on her farm – but Conner was interested and we will be keeping Jami and him in the loop, for sure.

On August 11, Marcy Shanks and I met with Senator Deb Patterson, who serves as Chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Health Care. She is on several committees and Task Forces that relate to the work we are doing, and we think she will be able to help us. Interestingly, Senator Patterson is in a unique position to do so! Take a moment to read her biography and you will see that she has been an ally for faith community nurses for many years, but it was called parish nursing back then. We brought three issues for consideration:

  • Exploring compensation for faith community nurses, perhaps following a model similar to the funding model currently used to compensate community health workers. Faith community nurses can do much more, yet there is currently no mechanism to pay RNs for the work they do in the community.
  • Exploring liability protection options for faith communities who choose to have faith community nurses. RNs, especially in Oregon, are autonomous, function under their own license, often carry their own malpractice insurance, and they typically have close, trusting relationships with members of their faith communities. We have found no evidence in the literature to suggest that faith communities are at risk of lawsuit for the work of nurses leading and working in ministries for their congregations, yet we have found this to be a concern among faith leaders we have surveyed formally and informally, and they are reluctant to allow a faith community nurse to practice.
  • Assistance with nurse recruitment. We know there are nurses interested in this nursing practice specialty, but nurses tend not to check email often, and trying to reach them other ways is challenging.

We look forward to connecting with her again.

We had a wonderful educational session on August 23 featuring Angel Harris, Equity Consultant with Harris Consulting. We had 17 in the class from attendees coming from as far as Portland! This session was in person only.

After an action-packed August, September looks to be just as lively! We have some exciting education coming up on September 27, 2023. Dr. Robert Fallows, PsyD, APBB, will open our session with a rich mental health topic. Dr. Fallows is a mental health provider with Samaritan Health Services and was the recipient of the Early Career Service Award by the National Academy of Neuropsychology in 2019. Welcome Dr. Fallows! Beck Low, Community Health Worker Training HUB Coordinator with Benton County Health Services will wrap up our session with information on the Benton County Health Services Training Hub, something we are eager to hear more about.

We are working hard to get the word out about our Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course. Check it out on our Events page! We spoke to a representative from the Oregon Center for Nursing yesterday to brainstorm ideas to reach Oregon nurses who might be interested in this practice specialty and got some great ideas from that discussion. More to come on that! For now, we will have a display up in the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital from September 1-15, 2023 and will host the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce Greeters on September 22, 2023 at 8:30am, also at the hospital in Lebanon. We will be in Conference Rooms 3 & 4.

Contact Deb at if you would like to be added to our mailing list, and if you are in our area in the morning on September 22, stop by and see us!

Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministry – Why? Why now? Why here? And how?

Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministry – Why? Why now? Why here? And how

Faith community nursing – in some form – has been around for many years. As the American Nurses Association Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards, 3rd Edition states, this nursing specialty has its roots in faith and health – and in both ancient and modern faith traditions. The Faith Community Health Network summarizes this as “bridging the gap between faith and health.”

Faith community nurses (FCNs) had a robust presence in Oregon in the late 1990’s. I can attest to that; I had an opportunity to take the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course in 1999, but I didn’t feel called to the ministry just then, and as a mid-career graduate student, I simply couldn’t fit it in to my busy life. The course was offered frequently in the Willamette Valley. I wasn’t concerned; I would take the course later.

Fast forward to 2016, when I clearly felt the Spirit moving me away from my satisfying career as an occupational health nurse to this obscure practice of faith community nursing. As it turns out, we no longer had FCNs in my community, and there was no local training for this practice specialty! What am I doing?!

Why faith community nursing? Why now? Why here? And how was this going to happen if I could not find any FCN colleagues or even a training course? The answers were revealed, but not all at once, and, looking back, I had answers before I realized I had the questions.

Why start a faith community nursing practice?

G.R. was a homeless gentleman who came to our congregation via our ministry with the Oregon Department of Corrections. Excited to be out of prison and passionate about his new faith, he eagerly joined our Sabbath services, but his attendance was sporadic. Later, when my husband bought him a new tire and I went with him to put it on G.R.’s motorhome, I learned that G.R. had undergone a major reconstructive surgery and that is why he had not been able to attend. I also learned that he had been released to his motor home after that surgery – a motorhome with no heat, no running water, and no place to park except in a rest area along the interstate.

I was shocked.

I had been away from clinical nursing for decades, but I knew this was wrong. Yet in conversations with others in our region, it sounded like it was a common occurrence. Thus, G.R. became one of many answers to the “why faith community nursing” in our congregation – transitional care. Transitional care is one way a faith community nurse can help assure that individuals in the faith community are safe and have what they need when they are discharged from the hospital or emergency department.

Since then, I have identified many more answers to “why faith community nursing?” They have names and stories. I have done everything from walking dogs, accompanying community members to medical appointments, advocating for a specific course of treatment, and filling out housing paperwork as part of a nursing care plan for someone in my faith community — but this one was the most poignant for me. G.R. shaped my faith community nursing journey in many ways.

Faith community nursing practice is traditionally geared toward health promotion. A faith community nurse in a traditional faith community nursing practice might do blood pressure screenings, provide health counseling, teach Mental Health First Aid or CPR, and have resource nurse office hours. These are all worthwhile, to be sure, but faith community nursing is so much more…. so very much more… and so desperately needed in its broadest sense.

Why start a faith community nursing practice now, and why here?

Why now… We have much generational poverty in our area of rural east Linn County, Oregon. Many residents are without stable housing, and many suffer from chronic health conditions. Some of our unsheltered have mental health challenges, including addiction, and many, especially now, coming out of the pandemic, are elderly individuals and families who could not cope, got behind financially, and ended up on the streets. We have others who are lost in our complex medical system and stymied by online communication. As a result, they miss appointments and may be sufficiently intimidated as to avoid healthcare altogether. Many of our struggling community members belong to a faith community, and they may not know help is available to connect them to community resources. A faith community nursing practice inside a larger health ministry can help to address these socio-economic needs – and with an FCN on board, can also address the chronic health conditions that often accompany them.

Why here… my answer is specific to my geographic community, but poverty is everywhere. You may not see it on your commute to work or to the grocery, and it may look like those individuals sitting on either side of you during worship have what they need, but there are people in your faith community who need help, even if they don’t look like it. Computer illiteracy/lack of computer access may not be formally recognized as a health disparity, but faith community nurses see it daily. Many of our community members simply cannot access their online health information.

The very core of nursing practice is assessment, synthesizing what is learned from that assessment into a nursing diagnosis, developing a plan to intervene for health improvement, moving forward with the plan, and evaluating. We need faith community nurses in every house of worship in every faith. Not just here. Everywhere.

So, getting back to my story...

It was late 2016 and I was about to retire from the best job I ever had with the best boss I ever had to step into something that was completely unknown to me. My husband was supportive. However, I couldn’t find a faith community nurse in my town to mentor me and I couldn’t find training for this nursing specialty. These were the first of many obstacles in this leap of faith, but it was a leap I was certain I was supposed to be taking. I worship in a small faith community in Lebanon, Oregon called Am HaSefer – People of the Book. I shared this call to service with our Rabbi and Gesher, Jonah Freeman. He felt the call, too, and was in full support, although neither of us knew what it was we were being called to, really, or how it would happen. I left my occupational health nursing career in the spring of 2017.

It took several months, but I found a Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course about an hour away and registered for the October, 2017 class. Jonet Schutz, BSN, RN, Faith Community Nurse for Redeemer Lutheran Church and Coordinator for the Salem, OR area welcomed me into the class even though I was not in the Salem area. There were several of us in the class, all from different faith traditions.

The class was life-changing for me. Now that I had the course under my belt, I could hardly wait to get started! I thought the next big question was how to bring this to my faith community, but the call to service was bigger than that; I felt led to bring it to our entire rural community, not just my faith community. Rabbi Jonah agreed, although both of us were still unsure what “it” was, what “it” would look like, or how, exactly, to do “it.” We knew the need was great, and we agreed this could be a way to meet it.

The Lord provided the answer to this bigger “how” through unexpected open doors. I enrolled in an online FCN Coordinator Course through the Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing in the spring of 2018. Our congregation partnered with Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministries NorthWest, a Portland-based non-profit and Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing Educational Partner, and hosted our first Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course in Lebanon, Oregon in over a decade. We held the class in donated space in Trinity Baptist Church in Lebanon. We were blessed to have Annette Stixrud, BA, RN, MS, as our Lead Educator and Jonet on hand as my coordinator mentor and graduated nine FCNs and health ministers, but only three were from Linn County.

The three local area graduates from that class joined with me to form an informal coalition we called the Faith Community Health Network and began meeting in January, 2019. We met monthly; all of us called to serve and committed to find our way. Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministries NorthWest sponsored me to take the Lead Educator Course for the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course in the spring of 2019 and I was excited to bring the course to our local area on a regular basis to help build our team. Unfortunately, Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministries NorthWest folded late in 2019. We could not deliver the course without an approved Educational Partner. Linn-Benton Community College – Extended Learning stepped in and partnered with the Faith Community Health Network to host the course in 2020 and 2021. Our Faith Community Health Network, officially a public charity since September, 2021, is now a Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing Educational Partner in its own right, and we are able to deliver the course on our own and did so in 2022. The Faith Community Health Network coordinated and delivered the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course right through the pandemic, with classes in the fall of 2020, 2021, and 2022! These courses have helped to build our team, and we continue to meet most months – nine times a year – for education, fellowship, and networking.

The ”how” has truly been Divine Intervention. We continue to grow and our small team of faith community nurses and health ministers are active in – and beyond – their faith communities.

We are making a difference.

We have another Foundations of Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministry Course scheduled for fall, 2023. We hope you will join us! Click here to learn more about the course and to register, and email Deb at to be added to the email list.

Lebanon’s Faith Community Nursing: A Holistic Health Ministry

Lebanon, OR – A new initiative is taking root in Lebanon’s faith communities, bringing spiritual care and nursing practice together to promote health and wellness. Known as faith community nursing, this holistic approach to health aims to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of congregants. The ministry has grown in recent years as faith communities seek to offer more comprehensive support and care to their members.

Lebanon’s faith community nurses are registered nurses who have completed specialized training to provide healthcare services tailored to the unique needs and beliefs of their respective faith communities. They collaborate closely with religious leaders, healthcare professionals, and congregants to offer services such as health education, counseling, advocacy, and referrals to appropriate healthcare resources. Faith community nurses in Lebanon also lead support groups, organize health fairs, and develop wellness programs that address prevalent health issues in the community.

The impact of faith community nursing in Lebanon extends beyond individual congregations, reaching out to the wider community and providing much-needed support for vulnerable populations. By addressing health disparities and working to improve access to healthcare resources, faith community nurses play a crucial role in Lebanon’s overall health and well-being. Their emphasis on spiritual care and the importance of strong faith communities helps individuals navigate through difficult times, cope with illness, and find meaning and purpose in their lives. As Lebanon’s faith community nursing initiative continues to grow, its potential to transform the health landscape for the better becomes increasingly evident.

Faith Community Nursing: A Holistic Approach to Health and Healing


Faith community nursing, also known as parish nursing or congregational nursing, is a unique blend of spiritual care and nursing practice that focuses on promoting health and wellness within faith communities. As an integral part of the ministry, faith community nurses work closely with religious leaders, congregants, and other healthcare professionals to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of their community members. In a world where healthcare has become increasingly impersonal and fragmented, faith community nursing offers a compassionate, holistic approach to healing that empowers individuals and fosters a sense of belonging.

Role and Scope of Practice

Faith community nurses are registered nurses who have undergone specialized training in the field, enabling them to provide healthcare services that are sensitive to the unique needs and beliefs of their respective faith communities. Their scope of practice encompasses a wide range of services, including health education, counseling, advocacy, and referral to appropriate healthcare resources. They may also lead support groups, organize health fairs, and implement wellness programs that address prevalent health issues in their community. By working closely with religious leaders, faith community nurses help create a supportive environment where congregants feel comfortable discussing their health concerns and seeking guidance.

Impact and Benefits

The impact of faith community nursing goes beyond the confines of the congregation, reaching out to the wider community and providing much-needed support for vulnerable populations. Faith community nurses can be instrumental in addressing health disparities, particularly in underserved communities where access to healthcare resources may be limited. They are well-positioned to identify gaps in healthcare services, advocate for change, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to improve the overall health and well-being of their community. Additionally, their emphasis on spiritual care and the importance of a strong faith community can help individuals navigate through difficult times, cope with illness, and find meaning and purpose in their lives.