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April 2020 Newsletter

Director's Note, Upcoming Events, Community Events and Information, Interview with Sally Coffin (HM on Orcas Island), and Devotional.

Dear health ministries community,

Who would have imagined that we would celebrate our 2020 holy days in crisis? I know that this is a profoundly stressful time for faith community leaders and nurses as they try to create community online, live-stream services and manage the urgent needs of vulnerable people in their congregation, while caring for themselves and their families. Thank you for everything you are doing to care for the physical, mental and spiritual health of your people.

I encourage you to scroll down to read about Sally Coffin's ministry on Orcas Island (pictured above), and also Rev. Dr. Cindy Bauleke's devotional, which gives tips for coping during this challenging time.

You may have congregants who want to be of service during this time. Here are four identified needs in our community and how to help:

  • Grocery and medication delivery: NW Regional Council serves elderly and disabled folks in our community. They are hoping to compile a list of volunteers, congregations or individuals willing to pick up and deliver groceries and medication to clients homes in Whatcom County. Please contact Stacy Malone Miller for more information: or 360-812-0066.

  • Phone call ministry: HMN developed guidelines and a script for a phone call ministry to those unable to leave their homes. It’s shared online here.

  • PPE Supplies: Personal protective equipment supplies are needed. Learn more about the needs and how to drop off donations to Whatcom Unified Command:

  • Home-made masks: PeaceHealth is soliciting home-made mask donations and they have a specific pattern and guidelines posted here: and the masks can be dropped off at the Whatcom Unified Command drop off.

  • Monetary donations: The Chuckanut Health Foundation is accepting monetary donations to support the COVID-19 response:

In conclusion, we continue to give thanks for the nurses and health care providers, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, police, pharmacists, first responders, childcare providers, public health employees and other essential workers who continue to serve our community.

We also give thanks and offer prayers for the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course participants and instructors as they bean their online course on Friday. May this be a rich and fulfilling journey for them and a joyful beginning to their health ministry.

Walk in love (even if it’s just in your neighborhood) and stay safe,

Amelia Vader Executive Director

Upcoming Events

April Meeting

Friday, April 17, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Zoom Video Conference Call

Join us online to discuss your response to COVID-19 and share resources or information.

Join our Zoom video using the meeting link sent out in the email newsletter. This meeting will be recorded and posted for those who cannot join live. Contact with any questions. For those who have not used Zoom before, watch this in-depth instructional video on how to set it up. Join the meeting link in your email now and practice!

Postponed: The Departure Lounge

The 5-week series The Departure Lounge, relating to our mortality, death, dying, and living fully, was scheduled to begin on April 15 at Unity Spiritual Center but has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

May Meeting

Friday, May 15, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Zoom Video Conference Call

Tentatively planned take place via Zoom, stay tuned for updates!

Community Events & Info

In an effort to connect our volunteers with relevant resources, we publish community events and information in our monthly newsletter and on our website. Email to add your own.

A Proactive Approach for COVID-19

From Hospice of the Northwest's (HNW's) Palliative Pearls:

Do you care for vulnerable elders, memory care patients, the complex chronically ill or nursing home residents? Click below for tips for conversations about future care decisions during a pandemic.

Food and Meal Resources for COVID-19

The Whatcom Asset Building Coalition (WABC) provides weekly updates on food resources in the county.

Mental Health and Wellness Resources for COVID-19

Local and national resources for those needing support managing COVID-19 related stress.

Online Conference: Westburg Symposium

April 20 - 22, 2020

The Westberg Symposium Caring for the Human Spirit will be provided virtually in 2020 as part of the conference. View the keynote and plenary information here. The Westberg Institute is the international body for faith community nurses.

Advanced Care Planning(ACP) Resources for COVID-19

Webinars from Honoring Choices PNW:

Advance Care Planning Live

Tuesday, April 7, 12-12:30 PM

Explores web platforms for live ACP group sessions and conversations.

Advanced Care Planning Chat

Thursday, April 9, 12-12:30 PM

Considers video chat and texting formats for ACP support.

Postponed: Palliative Care Across Cultures


We will post more information once new date has been confirmed. Stay tuned.

Free ACP Training

Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest and the PREPARE for Your Care program are working with health care and community groups in Washington to provide easy-to-use advance care planning resources to diverse and under-served communities across the state.

"The Gift of Becoming" by Dick Cathell

Former HMN director, Dick Cathell, has released his new book. A moving collection of stories, poems, and vignettes resulting from his 37 years as a hospital chaplain, "The Gift of Becoming," discusses nine basic needs essential for coping with others’ grief, as well as your own.


Sally Coffin, HM

Seventh Day Adventist, Eastsound, Orcas Island, WA

18 years of health ministry (since 2002)

Tell me about yourself.

One thing I do is serve on the board for a non-profit called Lahari that focuses on assisting the aging and disabled folks on Orcas Island. Basically, we do what we can to help people stay on the island as long as possible. I used to teach caregiving classes as there are a shortage of caregivers, but now it has evolved into more of a caregiver support group.

A lot of people who are caregivers sort of stumble into helping a neighbor or relative more and more over time and aren’t necessarily well-equipped in caregiving. That’s one reason it’s important for me to support these caregivers as much as I can.

What have you been doing during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Somehow, I thought being “stay at home” would be quieter…what was I thinking?! Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I’ve been connecting with many of the island's nonprofits in planning and providing for the needs of the community. And I’ve gotten much more proficient in the use of social media. Zoom has been very useful in keeping the social distancing. Right now, I am working to bring together resources for an emergency basic caregiver training to meet the increasing need on our island.

Why do you do health ministry? Why does it matter?

Our bodies are a gift to us from God, and God resides in us, so taking care of the body is respect for that. The bible says that our bodies are temples of God, so it’s housekeeping. More so, we live in a world that is not kind to our bodies, so anything we can do that leads to health is important.

Tell me about what you do in your health ministry.

It has changed a lot over the years, but I have done blood pressure screenings, I have also distributed health notes, taught classes and given presentations on such topics as smoking addiction, stress and relationships, and vegetarian cooking. In the last couple years there have been a lot of health problems within our congregation, so I’ve answered questions and provided transportation to appointments.

Tell me about health ministry at Eastsound Seventh Day Adventist.

When I moved to Orcas Island 18 years ago there were not a lot of nursing jobs, so I took the Foundations Course and started the health ministry at our church. The pastor at the time was very supportive of the program, paying for my course fee. Our congregation has 85 members on the books, 45 to 50 of them attend weekly.

Tell me more about Seventh Day Adventism.

The early church ate a vegetarian diet so that’s something I and many other Seventh Day Adventists uphold, plus it’s healthier. There is an emphasis on avoiding excess and leading that way by example. We observe a Saturday Sabbath and see it as a gift from God, a time to disengage from the concerns of the world, to have relationships, enjoy people, quiet time, and see God in nature.

What’s upcoming in your health ministry?

There are two nurses at our congregation that may get more involved, so I’m encouraging them to take the Foundations Course. If they did, I would like to get the blood pressure screenings going again as it’s a great way to find out about health problems, especially since there are a lot of folks here on blood pressure medication. There is a K-12 school here associated with our church where I’ll be helping with several vegetarian community dinners, which are a great way for people ask about vegetarian diets and cooking. We have a community garden where we source some of the food for these dinners as well as for the student’s lunches.

What challenges are facing your health ministry?

My hands have prevented me from continuing with blood pressure clinics but more significantly, the last couple of years have been hard in that a handful of our church members have had mental health issues. I’ve been able to give referrals and empathize, but mental health is not my specialty and it was challenging for me to know what to do in certain situations.

Do you have a story of when health ministry made a difference in someone’s life?

Well, it’s impacted me in that it has broadened my perspective, especially when dealing with mental health issues. One person in particular at our congregation has dealt with depression and suicidal ideation. At first, I found it very challenging to be helpful to them because my experience was in acute care and my internal reaction was to tell them to get it together. Thankfully I was able to be empathetic and help keep this person alive, directing them to care. They ended up needing in-patient care for six weeks and have since moved around the globe.

It can be hard for me to discern what the right thing to do in these kinds of situations but ultimately, I know just to be there for people and to be encouraging. Some of the insight I’ve been able to offer to this person and others in my life who deal with mental health issues is that we are not alone, God is with us. Yes, you may be in a hard time, but life isn’t easy sometimes and we are able to put our trust in God. Another thing I’ve done is just let folks know that they are not bad people.

Interviewed by Sampson Alvarado in February 2020.


Courtesy of Rev. Dr. Cindy Bauleke, HMN Board Spiritual Adviser

It is an understatement to say anxiety has become part of our daily lives. You know those diagrams of the Corona Virus that look like a ball with hooks sticking out to attach to people, making it so contagious?

I think anxiety is a lot like this, floating through the air waiting to hook on to the unsuspecting. No matter how much we appreciate change, there is way more change in the world right now than is easily managed. We know we’re not in control and have no idea how long this pandemic will continue.

How do we cope? And just as important how do we help those we are called to care for in these days of isolation? I don’t think there is any one formula that works for all. It is a matter of trying out what works for you today. One Health Ministry Nurse / Pastor team I know are together calling those in need of care in their congregation using FaceTime (Duo works for android phones). It is so reassuring to actually see someone else when you are isolated. Even if not technically talented a regular phone call to someone you know is alone can make a world of difference to them. My husband and I call a friend or two each day for what we call “a mental health” check-in. I’m not sure if the check-in is for them or for us, but people are always grateful and we feel better. You may find someone who needs help with shopping whom you can connect with a healthy person in your community willing to do this. If you are comfortable with it, you might even pray with your people on the phone. Just something simple which will bring hope in God’s presence.

It is a great time to begin a consistent ritual of prayer, if you don’t already do this. Pray for God’s presence with you, pray for your community and community leaders, pray for the world, pray for individuals you love and those you worry about. Perhaps most importantly find something in each day to give thanks to God, yes, even in these times. By bringing ourselves into God’s presence we can find a calm to counteract the anxiety of the world.

One of my favorite ways of coping is walking the labyrinth in Fairhaven Park. The labyrinth is an ancient path to prayer found in many different religions. Walking the twists and turns of the path of the labyrinth is similar to the twists and turns of our lives. Upon reaching the center, I like to wait there in silence for whatever God has for me on that day, before I follow the path out again. In addition to the park, labyrinths can be found at some schools, hospitals, and churches. There is one outside United Church of Ferndale. This simple act of walking has a way of opening up my heart and calming my soul. “Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness … will come and settle you down." Philippians 4:6 (The Message)

I also attempt to do all those things we know we are supposed to: healthy eating, drink lots of water, exercise. I’ve found some simple yoga online that works for me. I will confess that like so many, I am doing more baking than usual, because it brings me joy. What brings you joy? Music, gardening, sewing, building, painting, books, cleaning out cupboards… Aristotle said it first, but here I quote Frederick Buechner — 'The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.' This is a good time to explore your deep gladness.

None of this will get rid of the anxiety floating through the world - but it may make it more manageable. There are signs of hope – if we look for them. Please, take good care.

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