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Ten New Faith Community Nurses Graduate from Foundations Course

On May 5, 2019, family, friends, and supporters of 10 new faith community nurses (FCNs) and one health minister (HM) gathered at the First Congregational Church of Bellingham to celebrate their graduation.

10 new faith community nurses graduate from the 2019 Health Ministries Network Foundations in Faith Community Nursing course

From left to right:

Annette Stixrud, RN, MSN, Course Instructor

Celeste Hilde, RN, Congregational Church, Ferndale

Diane Hawkins, RN, BSN, MSN, Bellingham Covenant Church

Alanna Steele, RN, BSN, First Congregational Church, Bellingham

Lynn Pittsinger, RN, AANP, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Bellingham

Deborah Johnson, RN, BSN, MSN, Bellingham Covenant Church

Sylvia Burks, RN, BSN, First Reformed, Lynden

Katherine Meeks, RN, BS, Bellingham Covenant Church

Else Sokol, RN, BSN/MSN-NP, Congregation Beth Israel, Bellingham

Carol Nicolay, HM, Course Coordinator

Michelle Webster, MSN ARNP FNP, Bethlehem Baptist, Tacoma

Susan Zimmer, RN, Lake Chelan Lutheran Church

Mary Ehrlich, RN, BSN, Union Church, Seattle

Students shared their final presentations with classmates and instructor, Annette Stixrud, and participated in an interfaith dedication ceremony, organized by course coordinator, Carol Nicolay, followed by a celebration with family and friends.

In their final presentations, students shared their faith journey, as it intersects with health ministry, as well as a 6-month plan for their ministry and how they will apply the course material.

Graduates received a faith community nurse pin, prayer shawl and white rose.

Susan Zimmer plans to apply the FCN approach in her work doing home visits, and hopes to partner with other churches to create a better community health network in the Lake Chelan area. Else Sokol plans to use her education to better her contribution in her existing role on the Care Committee at Congregation Beth Israel and to pursue reinstating her nursing license. The three nurses from Bellingham Covenant Church will take a team approach to serving their congregation.

Coming from a myriad of backgrounds, nursing specializations, denominations/religions, and cultures, this group is united by a strong desire to serve their community.

“ Ten exceptionally talented nurses will be serving our community," says course coordinator, Carol Nicolay. "Thank you First Congregational Church for your hospitality -- it was such a pleasure to coordinate this course.”

"They are each wonderful and special people with such incredible gifts to share," says course instructor, Annette Stixrud, who would like to share the following prayer with the graduates:

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life

Special thanks to Carol Nicolay, who coordinated the recruitment, course logistics, and guest speakers and ensured everything went smoothly. And thank you to Annette Stixrud, who was the course instructor, grading all the online assignments and encouraging students to the finish line of course completion. This is Annette's last course before her well-deserved retirement. Congrats, Annette and thank you!

This course was made possible through funding from the Chuckanut Health Foundation, PeaceHealth, and the Jean Billings Tischler Fund at the Chuckanut Health Foundation.

Congrats, 2019 Foundations in Faith Community Nursing graduates!


About the Foundation Course

The Health Ministries Network (HMN) Foundations Course prepares state licensed RNs for faith community nurse (FCN) ministry and other caring individuals for health minister (HM) service in their respective congregation or faith community.

The Foundations Course has 18 modules (providing 44 contact hours) based on the curriculum developed through the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. Material is owned by the Church Health Center of Memphis, Inc. and designed to help participants care for the whole person by integrating mind, body and spirit wellness, with an emphasis on elements of spirituality in caring for the health needs of congregations and communities. This course fulfills the educational requirement for board certification in faith community nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

The course is open to people of all faiths and religions. The next course will be offered in the spring of 2020.

Interested in health ministry? Want to learn more about becoming a faith community nurse? Feel free to email us at or call us at 360-788-6408.


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