The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Maine Episcopalians glean ideas and information on health ministries in Baltimore

by Bruce Nickerson, RN, FCN, CCM
Diocesan Liaison to National Episcopal Health Ministry
St. George’s, Sanford

The Diocese of Maine was represented by five health ministers at the National Episcopal Health Ministries Annual Conference on May 9-11 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The title of the conference was “Health and Wellness in a Frantic World: Be Still and Know I am God.”   This was the 6th Annual Conference sponsored by NEHM.  Those engaged in health ministries across the church came together to share our ministries, to pray, reflect and connect as well as to learn about each others’ programs.  We leave feeling renewed, empowered with new information, new ideas for our ministry and new friends.  We were able to experience and discover many facets of health ministry in the greater Episcopal Church, as we met folk from all over the country – from Seattle to the Virgin Islands, from Alaska to Florida.

Humor therapists were well represented at the NEHM conference.

Humor therapists were well represented at the NEHM conference.

Besides myself, the folks from Maine attending the conference were Marie Bean, St. George’s, Sanford; Rev. Wanda Thompson, St. George’s, Sanford; Triss Critchfield, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth; and Liz Daly, St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth.

“One of the gifts was the exchange of ideas, listening to others tell their stories, what has worked, helped or been a hindrance in their health ministries.  There was a wealth of experience to glean from and to integrate and build on,”  said the Rev. Wanda Thompson, a deacon at St. George’s, Sanford.

The first keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Amy Richter, spoke on finding balance and our need to reach out effectively as Christ’s hands and heart in the world, supported by Christian community.  The second night we listened to the Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner on “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”

Marie Bean of St. George’s, Sanford, attended “The Sacred Art of the Circle” which began with meditation and a call to prayer by the lovely vibrating sound from a large Tibetan bowl. “We were told to think of the vibration as sacred theology. Circles were discussed as common threads of all life and the how the power of the world works in circles,” she explained. “We walked a sacred walk in a circle where each step was a prayer and whose sacredness connected us to all life. We learned about Native American traditions and about Black Elk a Native American prophet. In this tradition, praying for healing was and is for that of healing the spirit, heart and mind, not focusing on healing of the body – a theme repeated often at the conference.”

I attended “Seeds of Faith, Fruits of Wellness” that introduced us to the Living Compass Faith and Wellness Ministry that

Bruce Nickerson at St. George's, Sanford, with the array of resources for health ministries available to share with Maine congregations

Bruce Nickerson at St. George’s, Sanford, with the array of resources for health ministries available to share with Maine congregations

has been created to reintroduce our modern culture to an ancient, faith-based approach to wellness. This ministry invites people of all ages to explore the vital connection between their faith and their current state of wellness. Reconnecting the fruits of wellness with the seeds of faith helps the church reclaim its identify as the original wellness center. Everyone needs balance in their lives.  This program allows one to identify where we are out individually and helps one set goals to improve those area that need work.  This is done in supportive small group sessions, over a period of about six weeks.

I offered a session called “Resources, Resources and More” in which we discussed how to identify reliable sources and to help folks find resource materials for their health ministries.  As part of the program everyone left with a list of web addresses for resource materials. In addition we discussed developing web pages for health ministry on parish web sites.

The conference closed on Saturday morning with a Eucharistic Service and blessing of the hands – a very moving service indeed!

For more information about health ministry and faith community nursing for your congregation, please contact me at bnickerson44@gmail.com.

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