Spencer Presbyterian starts health ministry

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2012

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works. And that my soul knows very well!— Psalm 139:14.
For a small congregation, Spencer Presbyterian Church has a lot of health care professionals: one physician, a physical therapist, a former nursing home administrator, four nurses and three nurse’s assistants. When Registered Nurse Dot Landis recently left her job as parish nurse coordinator at Lexington Medical Center, she sensed the Lord calling her to harness her congregation’s talent and expertise for the well being of the church and community.
As the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, an elder at Spencer Presbyterian, and having worked as a parish nurse, Dot was well equipped to create a faith community health ministry. At her first meeting with the church session after returning to the governing board in January, Dot asked permission to begin the ministry. After receiving the approval of the session, she gathered health care professionals in the church to form a cabinet to oversee the project. Affiliation with CMC Northeast Medical Center will provide support from an active and established program.
Faith community health ministry, sometimes called parish nursing, developed in the 1980s in response to the effort of Lutheran minister Granger Westberg to unite medical care and religious life. It is estimated that there are now more than 6,000 programs worldwide. Having spiritual as well as physical, psychological and social dimensions, the ministry encourages members to become active in the management of their own personal health.
When Dot felt the call to start a health ministry, Spencer Presbyterian already had an active exercise class. People 55 and older meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the church fellowship hall from 11 a.m. until noon with Nancy Effinger, who has years of experience in physical therapy. Dot decided to piggy-back on the class by holding office hours Thursdays from 10:00 until noon. She is available to give health screenings, provide information on health-related topics, answer questions, be an advocate, and assist in navigating the sometimes confusing health care system.
In addition to Dot’s office hours and the exercise class, the health ministry offers bi-monthly presentations by guest health care professionals. Dr. Gordon Senter spoke on arthritis in March. Dot was pleased with the attendance. “We had good representation from the community and our own church. Folks came from Salisbury as well as Spencer.”
Teresa Hoover of the Alzheimer Association will give the next presentation on Dealing with Dementia, Thursday, May 10 at 12:30 in the church fellowship hall. She will bring updated information to help caregivers and families cope with the challenges of the disease. The church will serve a light lunch for those who come at noon.
Future presentations may address end-of-life issues, HIV, heart disease, and diabetes. At some point, a safe sitter class for teenagers will be offered. Dot also intends to hold a Health Fair with representatives from area health-related agencies and facilities.
Since beginning Spencer Presbyterian’s health ministry, Dot has represented the endeavor at the Spencer senior citizen meal site at Calvary Lutheran Church, the Annual Spencer Senior Spring Fling at Oakdale Baptist Church, and at meetings of the Spencer Council of Churches and the Spencer Civitan Club. She is available to speak with other community groups and churches about the ministry and may be contacted at 336-250-2289.
The public is invited to all of Spencer Presbyterian’s health ministry events. The church education building is located on 1st Street in Spencer across from the entrance to the NC Transportation Museum. To learn more about the health ministry online, go to www.SpencerPresChurch.org and click on “service” then “health ministry” on the menu.
The Rev. Dr. Barrie Miller Kirby is pastor of Spencer Presbyterian Church.