United Methodist Committee on Relief

Training for Parish Nurse Leaders

Training for Parish Nurse Leaders
Parish nurses’ Strategic Council meets in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sharon Hinton

October 12, 2012—October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The United Methodist Church Health Ministry Network invites your congregation to participate in Pink Sunday on October 28. Parish nurses are proud to sponsor this event, as well as educational programs, and even mobile mammograms in some congregations.

In order to offer more resources to congregations and parish nurses alike, this ministry, which is coordinated by UMCOR and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, is now organized into jurisdictional networks. Recently appointed jurisdictional coordinators will provide leadership to parish nurses and congregations.

Together, these coordinators form a Strategic Council for the parish nurse program. In Memphis, Tennessee, September 24 – 27, the twelve jurisdictional coordinators gathered for education, networking, and fellowship. Patricia Magyar, RN, of UMCOR Health and Development, met with the parish nurses and expressed her deep gratitude for their work and their devotion to parish nursing.

Of the twelve leaders on the council, four have Masters of Science in Nursing, six have Bachelors of Science in Nursing, and one has a Masters in Divinity. Two are enrolled in graduate school. The average nursing experience of these members is 36.5 years. All are serving or have served in congregations.

These jurisdictional coordinators “represent a forward movement in the denomination to recognize, support, and develop health ministry in the UMC,” says Sharon Hinton, UMCOR’s faith community nurse consultant.

In Memphis, the coordinators took a course offered through the Church Health Center. This class taught them how to coordinate jurisdictional parish nurse ministry, develop new programs, sustain and grow existing programs, work with faith communities, manage human resources, maintain documentation, prioritize self-care, and encourage best practices.

“The coordinator course was helpful in my understanding of how others are doing ministry, and it gave me ideas for things we could try in our area,” says Judy Lightowler, MSN, RN, FCN. “Networking with other nurses is always productive and enables visioning on a grander scale.” 

Rev. Janice Sudbrink, RN, FCN, says that council members have “enthusiasm for encouraging other parish nurses in our home conferences—and in our jurisdictional conferences—to bring health, healing, and holiness to people of The United Methodist Church.”

Thanks to UMCOR’s continued support, the parish nurse ministry moves forward with energy. Sharon Hinton believes that the new structure will “increase and improve communications.” This is a huge challenge, as many congregations are not aware of parish nurses and what they can offer.

“With the jurisdictional representatives, we hope to get the word out that we exist and are eager to serve,” Hinton says.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please consider a donation to Advance #3021045, Congregational Health Ministry.

*Julia Kayser is a writer and a regular contributor to

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please consider a donation to Advance #3021045, Congregational Health Ministry.