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May 2019 Newsletter

May 1, 2019. Director's Note, Interview with Lummi Island Congregational Church FCNs and HMs, Did you know?, Upcoming Events, and Devotional.

Health Ministries Network (HMN) is a non-profit that initiates, develops and supports faith based health ministry in northwest Washington.

Dear HMN community,

On Sunday, May 5, 10 new talented and passionate faith community nurses will graduate from HMN’s 2019 Foundations Course. They will serve in Whatcom, King, and Chelan counties across seven congregations and communities, with a keen focus on spirituality, professionalism, holistic health and community. This annual course would not be possible without generous funding from the Chuckanut Health Foundation, the Jean Billings Tischler Fund, and PeaceHealth. We are grateful for their support of this model of community-based caring.

Please note that we will not hold a monthly meeting in May because many folks will be attending WWU’s Palliative Care Conference on May 17. Next month, we’ll hear about YMCA programs for chronic illnesses and health (June 21), and then we will take a break from our monthly meetings for the months of July and August, returning in September with a Fall Kick Off.

Blessings to each of you,


Executive Director



Lummi Island Congregational Church faith community nurses and health ministers.

Elaine Granger, HM (left)

Jane Phillips, FCN (back left)

Dorothy Hanson, HM (front middle)

Lisa Wochos, HM (back middle)

Joan Moye, HM (front right)

Ingrid McGarry HM (back right)

Noelle Maher, FCN (not present)

Rev. Jamie Kepros (not pictured)

Lummi Island Congregational Church

How long has Lummi Island Congregational Church had a health ministry program?

Elaine: Since about 1996; that was when we started talking about it.

Who is involved with the health ministry team currently?

Ingrid: All of us. Elaine is kind of emeritus, and then there’s Noelle Maher as well.

How does the congregational church organize its health ministry team?

Ingrid: Well, Jane is in charge but we all sort of have different roles.

Lummi Island Congregational Church Sign

What kinds of things do you all do in your health ministry?

Jane: Today’s lunch group is called Elderberries, which is a weekly meetup for older folks on the island that was started by FCNs. We also do home visits and arrange transportation. We provide rides to medical appointments for those in need, and we pay the ferry fares for car, driver, and passenger to encourage our volunteer drivers to continue this valuable service. Lisa takes the elderly folks down to the ferry office once a month so they can buy their ferry passes.

Lisa: It’s kind of a social event, actually, and we all go to Lori's for tea afterwards.

Joan: We have a lot of donated mobility equipment that we lend to folks as needed. We keep all of it organized in a converted railroad container. We have wheelchairs and transport chairs and bedside commodes and knee trolleys and shower chairs and crutches and hospital beds and lots of other stuff, too.

Dorothy: There’s an oxygen machine as well.

Lisa: It’s a really big service for us; the most used service, really.

Jane: In the container we also keep $35 Fred Meyer gift cards, which we’ll give out to people who need to buy some groceries or whatever. We also have an account at the island store for urgent food needs. There are two homeless people that pretty much everyone knows on Lummi Island. During the big snow storm we put some money on our account under their names just so they could get some hot food. We’re not the only organization on the island that does these types of things though, there’s also the Lummi Island Community Association and Meals on Wheels.

Lummi Island Congregational Church faith community nurses and health ministers

Dorothy: Some of us participate in prayer shawl ministry. We knit shawls for folks who have experienced a loss, for newborn babies, for the dying, anyone who needs comfort.

Elaine: When my mother-in-law died, Ingrid and Lisa came and sang and played guitar, and that was really lovely.

Jamie: As the pastor at Lummi Island Congregational, one gift this group has given me is rarely having to have 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.

Lisa: We once financed a generator for someone who uses an oxygen machine. It’s not uncommon for us to lose power on the island so we wanted to make sure there wasn’t a lapse in oxygen for them.

Jane: In most of what I do here, I function as a support person. We recently lost a Lummi Islander who wanted to stay in their home. I offered some support, and together with the caregiver, we were able to keep this person at home.

Elaine: One of this group’s primary functions is to get people the care they need to be able to stay on the island until death.

Lisa: Yes, that’s a huge service that we do. Most people just want to be able to stay in their own home.

Jane: Just knowing there’s someone to call that won’t generate a record or a bill can make people feel more at ease.

Lummi Island Congregational Church faith community nurses and health ministers.

How do people find out about these services? How do you find out about needs?

Lisa: We sometimes publicize the equipment in the community newsletter so people can find out about it that way, but there’s also a lot of word-of-mouth sharing.

Jane: The Mermaids, for one.

The group laughs.

Elaine: The Mermaids are a somewhat secret social group on the island. There’s a limited number of members, so someone has to die for you to get in. They’re a weight loss group.

Dorothy: It started in 1966.

Ingrid: They’re a weight loss group that gets together to eat.

The group laughs.

Dorothy: So, we find out about needs from them.

Ingrid: Lummi Island is a very small community, so, people just sort of know what’s going on with other people. It makes it pretty easy to know when someone might be in need.

Why do you do health ministry?

Dorothy: I was a nurse for 50 years. When I retired and moved to Lummi Island, I felt like I had lost my identity. All that time my identity was as a nurse, mother, and wife. Health ministry filled a void for me.

Jane: I do it because it’s easy for me to imagine myself in their shoes, not to have someone to step up and help you, no one to call.

Ingrid: I feel that God has put us here for three reasons: to love, to learn, and to serve one another.

Joan: I’m a member of this community and it’s important to me to serve this community. When my daughter was born, services provided by a public health nurse made a big difference for us. I see a huge value in going into people’s home to help, so that’s something I want to do.

Lisa: This is a way for me to serve my community. I would hope someone would do that for me in my time of need.

Lummi Island Congregational Church faith community nurses and health ministers.

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

Ingrid: There’s a man here on the island that underwent heart surgery. He needed to be looked after so we offered to have him stay at our house. We had an extra room, so it was easy enough. He stayed for eight days and we fed him and took care of him. Lisa even provided three meals for us.

Jane: The way I see it, you walked with him. It is such a gift simply to have faces to look at when you’re confused or in need.

Lisa: Some are easier to help than others.

Elaine: Yes, islands tend to attract people who want to be isolated.

Lisa: Strong individuals.

Jane: There is a lady here over 90 years old who can be very difficult to help. The power went out and she refused to use her fireplace. She would not accept an alert system that I advised she install. How do you feel good about her situation?

Jamie: Well, she knows you’re here. I will say, this group is very unique in the way it serves. They provide help to anyone, regardless of church membership. Dorothy and Joan aren’t even members here at Lummi Island Congregational. It really is a crucial ministry on Lummi Island.

Interviewed by Sampson Alvarado on April 3, 2019.


Did You Know?

The Health Ministries Network website is full of health ministry resources.

Health Ministries Network is addressing Whatcom County's need for Transitional Care

Our Transitional Care page offers downloadable tools available to faith community nurses interested in providing care transitions services.


Upcoming Events

Lynden Parish Nurse Meeting

Thursday, May 2, 7pm – 8pm Second Christian Reformed Church, 710 Front St, Lynden, WA 98264, USA Hello fellow health ministry providers. Please save the evening of May 2. After speaking to some of you it seems it would be a good idea if we all got together. Lynden is very blessed to have so many interested in this ministry. It would be wonderful to share ideas, what you have done in your church and what we all see as community needs. Light refreshments will be served. Please rsvp me at or 360-319-7361. Hope to see you there. Sue Bouma

LiveStrong at the Whatcom Family YMCA

Mondays & Wednesdays, May 6 - July 29 (no class May 27), 1 - 2:30pm

Bellingham YMCA, 1256 N State St, Bellingham, WA 98225

Offered for FREE, this 12-week program (two 90-minute sessions each week) helps cancer survivors build muscle mass and strength; increases flexibility and endurance; improves confidence and self-esteem; and fosters a community of support. Participants work with Y staff trained in supportive cancer care to safely achieve goals, and they will develop their own fitness plan, so they can continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, not only as part of their recovery, but as a way of life. Contact Tammy Bennett for more information: 360-255-0490 or

Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson's

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9 -10:30am

Bellingham YMCA Racquetball Courts 2&3, 1256 N State St, Bellingham, WA 98225

Boxing works by moving your body in all planes of motion while continuously changing the routine as you progress through the workout. These classes have proven that anyone, at any level of Parkinson’s, can actually lessen their symptoms and lead a healthier/happier life. $100/month (includes YMCA Membership). Financial Assistance is available. For more information, contact Tracy Diehl, or 360-255-0445.

Realities of Advanced Medical Interventions - Blaine

Monday, May 13, 6:30pm – 8pm United Church of Christ/Blaine, 885 4th St. Rebecca Rech Cutler, BSN, RN, with over 30 years experience in hospice and home health, will present in layperson's terms the meanings of advanced medical interventions & possible outcomes. Advance care planning, advance directives, and palliative care are discussed. Rebecca will explain what a POLST is - Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. This interactive session includes Q&A.

WWU Palliative Care Institute Spring Conference (No HMN Monthly Meeting)

Friday, May 17, 9am – 4:30pm Settlemyer Hall, Bellingham Technical College, Bellingham, WA Palliative Care: Treating the Whole Person Keynote sessions and case studies to illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of palliative care, addressing the totality of the patient’s relational existence — physical, psychological, cultural, social and spiritual. Break-out sessions to deepen and extend participants understanding of this theme. More details and registration information at: Approved for 6 AMA PRA Category I credits™.

Scholarships Available for Palliative Care Conference

HMN will not be holding an educational meeting in the month of May, instead we encourage FCNs and HMs to attend the PCI conference. Deadline to request a scholarship: Monday, May 6 at noon. Contact for more information.

The Power of Connection: What Research on ACEs, Neurobiology, and Resilience Tells Us

Tuesday, May 21, 5:30pm – 8:30pm WFCN/Brigid Collins 1231 N Garden Street, Bellingham WA 98225 Whatcom Family & Community Network (WFCN) hosts this 3-hour training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research and the power of resilience to mitigate the effects of early trauma. The training cost is $20 per person. If the cost is a hindrance in your attendance, please email INFO@WFCN.ORG to inquire about a scholarship. Registration is limited to 40 people due to room size.


Wednesday, June 5, 6pm – 7:30pm St. Luke's Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Parkway Bellingham, WA Rebecca Rech Cutler, BSN, RN, CRRN, CHPN, will present in frank terms the meanings of advanced medical interventions, and what their outcomes could mean for patients in the short and long term. Advanced care planning, advance directives, and the importance of palliative care are discussed. Interactive, Q&A. Rebecca has experience as Whatcom Hospice & Home Health nurse.

HMN: Monthly Meeting: YMCA Programs and Partnership

Friday, June 21, 11am – 1pm First Congregational Church, 2401 Cornwall Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225 Sarah Lane, Chronic Disease Prevention Outreach Coordinator at the Whatcom Family YMCA, will join us to share about the programs they offer (out in the community) including Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), Actively Changing Together (ACT!), Enhance Fitness and Livestrong. The YMCA would like to explore partnering with faith communities and wants hear from you about your congregations’ needs and interest. This meeting is free and all are welcome. A light lunch will be provided.

Upcoming Events allows anyone to share relevant events with the network. Add an event to the HMN calendar at



Courtesy of Rev. Dr. Cindy Bauleke, Health Ministries Network Board of Directors Spiritual Adviser

How is your grief work? I say work, because after walking with people through grief in over three decades of ministry, I believe grief is some of the most difficult work we do. Grief isn’t reserved for the death of a loved one. Even when something wonderful happens, like the birth of a baby, we may grieve the loss of life as it was.

Lummi Island Congregational Church Sanctuary

There are so many losses we face in life: around health issues, disappointments with relationships, achievements longed for and never attained. The news can trigger grief for us. In a grief class in seminary I learned the stages made famous by Elizabeth Kubler Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. At that time, it was believed that while each person’s grief was unique and people moved through these five stages at their own pace, they did it in a relatively orderly way. Now the thinking has changed. The stages of grief are not necessarily orderly or predictable. Even when you think you have completed a stage, it can circle round again, demanding attention and more work at different times in life. Imagine a tangled skein of yarn in a jumbled mess and you come closer to the picture of grief.

I began with a question about your grief work, because it’s hard to get through life without experiencing grief. It may be seen as a strength in our culture to bury our grief and present an image to the world that we have it all together. This is neither wise nor healthy. When we do not pay attention to our grief, acknowledge it, and give gentle attention to what we need in order to heal, grief will come out in unexpected and often unpleasant ways. It is important for us who are caregivers to tend to our own grief and healing in order to walk with others through their grief. There are many ways to do this. Grief groups can be healing places for people to share what they have learned about grief with one another. Talking with a trusted companion, journaling, reading, and talking with God. God is there to take on all that anger and sadness and denial. When my sister died very suddenly, we had already planned a trip. We went anyway and while traveling I found it comforting to light candles and pray in cathedrals and churches along the way. Grief takes time and attention. It may never go away, but honoring the grief in our life can help us move on.

Once we honor our own grief, we are able to help others who grieve. As a health minister, faith community nurse, or health advocate you interact with people about health issues. No one expects you to be a grief counselor. Yet, you do deal with grieving people who are vulnerable. It is always important, of course, to respect their grief process, which can take years for some. Gently and patiently walking along side those who grieve can be a challenge. It can also be rewarding. So when you can, take the time to listen, perhaps share a prayer, a suggestion, or a gentle touch. (I realized as a parish pastor that some of my widowed parishioners were never hugged. It’s important to ascertain comfort level and ask permission first.) Perhaps suggest referral sources for your patient, as appropriate. There is a lovely bond that develops from having shared a grief journey with another. It is what community is all about.

Rev. Dr. Cindy Bauleke, Spiritual Adviser, Health Ministries Network Board of Directors

Rev. Dr. Cindy Bauleke

Spiritual Adviser

Health Ministries Network Board of Directors

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