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Group photo of faith community nurses and health ministers

Help faith communities and health systems work in partnership to deliver whole person health and wellness, linking mind, body, and spirit.


Faith community nurses and health ministers work with faith community leaders, serving as skilled and trained team members to support pastoral and other caring ministries.

According to the American Nurses Association's Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 3rd Edition, faith community nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as well as on the promotion of holistic health and prevention or minimization of illness within the context of a faith community and the wider community.

A faith community nurse, also know as a parish nurse, can fill many roles, including:

  • Health educator promoting wellness

  • Health counselor advocating personal responsibility

  • Teacher and coordinator of volunteers

  • Referral agent and liaison with community resources

  • Integrator of faith and health

  • Developer of support groups

  • Health advocate

A health minister, also known as a congregational health promoter, fills many of the same roles as a faith community nurse. However, a health minister does not have an active nursing license.


Both faith community nurses and health ministers support the work of pastors, clergy, rabbis, and other faith community leaders through a variety of activities, including:

  • Actively listening and providing prayer

  • Visiting the sick and home-bound

  • Providing referrals to health and human services organizations

  • Ministering to families facing depression, dementia, other illness, and end-of-life care choices

  • Planning health-related activities with emphases on holistic health and intentional care of the spirit

  • Using evidence-based techniques such as blood pressure screening and other preventive approaches

Photo of Rev. Deanna Murray

Rev. Deanna Murray, Pastoral Care Associate
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Bellingham

Pastors are always coming into contact with folks who are dealing with something health or healing related. Pastors aren’t doctors. So, the faith community nurse being in touch with the pastor and vice-versa is an ideal kind of ministry. It’s really a wonderful program. We’re glad to have it here.

Photo of Paster Mike Slofstra

Pastor Mike Sloftra, Community Life Pastor
Sonlight Church, Lynden

I have learned a great deal about the work of care in the midst of suffering from the example set forth by the faith community nurses in our community. The faithful and compassionate care they provide is a shining example of very practical love.

Rev. Bobbi Virta (ret) receiving an award

Rev. Bobbi Virta, Pastor (Ret.)
United Church of Ferndale

I feel like I have a partner in ministry. I didn't realize how much I was holding internally, needing to care for everybody. Being in partnership with someone who has the medical knowledge and who is willing to step up, organize, implement and follow through is a huge, huge gift.

Photo of Rev. Jamie Kepros

Rev. Jamie Kepros, Pastor
Lummi Island Congregational Church

One gift our health ministers have given me is rarely having to arrange for pastoral backup. If I need to be gone, I pretty much know there will be someone there to support anyone who might need help.

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