• Health Ministries Network

September 2019 Newsletter

Director's Note, Interview with Bellingham Covenant Wellness Ministry, Did you know?, Upcoming Events, Devotional, and Prayer list.

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

Dear HMN community,

I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of you over the last year, and look forward to building more connections going forward in my second year as director of HMN. I feel grateful to work with a fantastic and caring board; Sampson, our talented and steadfast communications coordinator; members of the community who care about the health of their neighbors; and the inspiring, joyful and devoted faith community nurses and health ministers who share God’s love each day. Thank you for a great first year.

Looking ahead, we have an exciting Fall Kick Off on Friday, September 20 at the Whatcom Center for Philanthropy. We’ll allow ample time for connections and networking, followed by a roundtable and small group discussion on successes and challenges within your health ministries. We’ll be joined by Heather Flaherty, Executive Director of Chuckanut Health Foundation; Kevin Park, Director of Mission, and Rachel Lucy, Director of Community Health, for PeaceHealth in the NW Network. Each of these folks started their current role this year, so this will be an excellent opportunity to get to know you and your work. See you there!

Just a friendly reminder that we’ll be using hours submissions to determine the 2019 Angel awards, to be celebrated at the Spirit of Giving on Saturday, October 19. If you haven’t already, get up to date with your hours submission here: https://www.healthministriesnetwork.net/hours

And finally, I hope you'll scroll through this month's newsletter -- it is full of resources including a Dementia Ministry Toolkit, local programming for seniors and Hepatitis info!

Walk in love,


Executive Director



Bellingham Covenant Church Wellness Ministry, Health Ministries Network, Faith Community Nurses, Health Ministers

From left to right:

Katie Meeks, FCN

Dotty Marston, HM

Debbie Johnson, FCN

Kathy Sellereit, HM

Diane Hawkins, FCN (not present)

Bellingham Covenant Church

What kind of things do you do in your health ministry here?

Kathy: Our main focus continues to be the monthly blood pressure / ask-the-nurse clinic. We wanted to expand beyond just blood pressure, so as to encourage anyone at any age to feel free to speak with a nurse about a medical or personal issue. Other things that we have done are:

  • Educational programs - nutrition and exercise

  • Annual blood drive

  • Advance Directives

  • A six Sunday series on caregiving

  • A monthly caregiver support group for anyone who is caring for a loved one with dementia

Bellingham Covenant Church Wellness Ministry, Health Ministries Network, Faith Community Nurses, Health Ministers

Three of your team members just graduated from the Foundations Course. How has their joining shifted things?

Kathy: We have new energy and focus. It's nice that we already had a base, so we’re not starting at square one. The ministry began in 2012 and initially we did a lot, but circumstances and commitments changed for team members. I was thrilled when Debbie, Katie and Diane decided to take the Foundations Course to become FCNs.

For those of you who just finished the foundations course, how it did prepare you for doing health ministry? Was it valuable?

Katie: I think it was. I just moved here almost exactly one year ago from North Carolina. I wanted to do health ministry there, but it was not established. I had already been thinking about some things that I wanted to do, like putting up a bulletin board with different health topics and maybe sharing some of the hospital visits with our pastor. We did meal trains for people who were getting home from the hospital or having babies. The foundations course gave context and broadened my idea of what health ministry is.

Bellingham Covenant Church Wellness Ministry, Health Ministries Network, Faith Community Nurses, Health Ministers

What’s upcoming for your health ministry?

Dotty: Katie is going to work on first aid kits. A mental health class has been approved. We have an official church “Blessing’’ on the calendar, we’re making business cards, and we’ll be doing more home visits.

Kathy: We are doing some tentative planning for the upcoming year. One idea would be to offer a 1-hour class on a specific health topic each quarter. It’s important to know the make-up of your congregation and what the needs are. This requires observing and talking to the pastoral staff and congregants. It’s also helpful to know what resources are in the congregation, i.e. counselors, P.T./O.T.’s, Dietitians, etc., whose expertise we can draw on.

Katie: I did labor and delivery, so my thoughts are geared toward young families.

Kathy: I thought that if Katie was able to connect with a new mom, they might be able to ask questions about postpartum or what to expect. Diane would like to focus on end-of-life and senior-issues and be part of a visitation ministry.

Bellingham Covenant Church Wellness Ministry, Health Ministries Network, Faith Community Nurses, Health Ministers

Debbie: So much of our focus has been on the aging faith community members and now we have had a real influx of young families, which is great. I just met with the youth director and director of children's ministry. They're saying that we need re-branding. We're discussing getting a brochure together as well as business cards. So, we’re working on visibility and awareness. The other thing we talked about was putting together a binder and webpage of resources available in the community. They also talked about using a Bellingham covenant email address instead of our personal ones. That way families might be more inclined to contact us with questions, and we’d all be able to respond at one address.

Kathy: We are in the process of searching for a new senior pastor. Dotty and I had the opportunity to meet with several members of the search committee to convey our thoughts on how important this ministry is in the life of our congregation, and that it could be an asset to a senior pastor.

Have you had a pastor who's been supportive of the program in the past?

Kathy: Yes, from the very beginning. The challenge for any wellness ministry is to create a vision within the congregation, and that takes time, visibility and patience in prayer. For this ministry to grow and flourish, you need the support of a pastoral staff who sees the value in it.

Bellingham Covenant Church Wellness Ministry, Health Ministries Network, Faith Community Nurses, Health Ministers

What challenges are there with your health ministry?

Kathy: All of the team members would love to have a designated space for the wellness ministry. We adapt office space for the monthly BP/Ask-the-Nurse Clinic, but it’s not as private as we would like it to be.

Dotty: We were talking about space to store resources. Then we could just go and grab them as opposed to having to bringing them with us every time.

Katie: It's difficult to put things into full action at this point because we don't know what things are going to look like when we have a new pastor.