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Parish nursing in the UK

The tenth birthday celebration of Parish Nursing in the UK saw the commissioning of a Baptist minister as the charity’s new chief executive.

The Revd Dr Helen Wordsworth, formerly a regional minister (mission enabler) with the Central Baptist Association, was commissioned along with a team of regional co-ordinators at the Parish Nursing Ministries UK celebration at Hothorpe Hall.

Helen’s commissioning was led by her former CBA colleague the Revd Colin Pye, who also led the music and worship at the event, supported by members of the worship group from Rugby Baptist Church. 
Helen Wordsworth
Helen Wordsworth
Picture: Gill Poole, Flickr (adapted)

The weekend was hosted by the Revd Graeme Fairburn from Wycliffe Baptist Church in Reading.

Guest speakers included Professor Ann Solari-Twadell, who was  Director of the International Parish Nurse Resource Centre in Chicago for 15 years, Maureen Daniels, current  Coordinator of the World Forum for Parish Nursing, and celebrity guest Fiona Castle, who spoke movingly about being a carer for her husband. The weekend was also the launch of the European Parish Nurse Resource Centre.

Parish nurses are appointed by nurses and support people and communities towards whole person healthcare, care for the person’s overall well-being, incorporating body, mind and spirit.

From small beginnings a decade ago, there it is now a multi-denominational ministry across the UK.

‘Over the last ten years we have seen slow but steady growth, to the point where 80 churches now have active Parish nurses,’ said Helen, ‘32 of which are Baptist churches. The commitment and dedication of these nurses is inspirational.’

She said there had been many high points along the way: visits to parish nurses in Chicago and Milwaukee in 2005; the Florence Nightingale celebration with involvement in the Songs of Praise programme and tea at Claydon House; and the recognition of parish nursing as a form of accredited ministry by our Baptist Union of Great Britain.

Even when parish nurses have retired, they have often left ‘a church that is continuing to reach out in a more effective way through its volunteers.’

Helen has completed a Doctor of ministry degree in applied theology, studying the effect of Parish nursing on the outreach of the church, and is convinced that it offers churches a very relevant and appropriate way of engaging with the local community in health ministry to offer both practical and spiritual care, enhancing whatever can be offered through statutory services.

She hopes the charity will grow in awareness and resources. ‘For the future, we eventually want to see every person in the UK have the possibility of access to a parish nurse... but to achieve that we need more resource for the national charity, and more publicity so that more churches and nurses get to hear about it and receive the support they need to get it going and to sustain it.’

Helen is happy to visit with and speak at any church or group of churches that would like to know more. ‘We have some excellent Trustees and we are looking to create a fundraising team.  

‘If you know anyone that might be willing to work with us toward these outcomes, then please introduce us to them.’
Contact 01733 233546  or through the website www.parishnursing.org.uk

Baptist Times, 10/12/2013
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