Our Health Ministries
"O Lord my God, I cried to thee for help and thou has healed me." --Psalm 30:2
Throughout his ministry Jesus healed many men and women who came to him in need. In the same loving spirit of Christ the Apostle John later writes to a fellow disciple and church leader: "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may be well with you..." (3 John 2) Jesus' example, coupled with the simple words of John's letter, is a reminder that as we walk together in faith we are called to be solicitous of one another's spiritual and physical health. With this in mind, our congregation prays in worship each week for those who are struggling with various physical, emotional, and spiritual health issues. During the year we also host special worship services for the anointing of the sick and the comfort of the grieving. Pastoral care is provided by our senior pastor, our parish nurse, and the Visiting Elders, who visit or correspond with church members who are hospitalized or home bound. Our pastoral team also organizes and hosts various support groups and education wellness activities that further affirm the positive mind, body, and spirit connection. The programs are announced through the Sunday Morning Tide bulletin, the monthly Tidings newsletter, and email alerts.
Parish Nurse Ministry
Our registered nurse Kathy Williams, directs our congregation's parish nurse ministry. Although she does not dispense medical care, she is committed to providing our St. Paul members with relevant and up-to-date information on health matters as she offers compassionate support to those with particular health challenges. In her respective role as Parish Nurse for Pastoral Outreach and Parish Nurse for Pastoral Visitation and Programs, she offers blood pressure screenings, responds to individual questions on health topics, makes home and hospital visits and telephone calls to parishioners. She coordinates educational programs and support groups that are also open to the wider community. The parish nurse works closely with the senior pastor in providing pastoral care to church members.
The St. Paul Visiting Elders assist the senior pastor and parish nurse in pastoral care to church members. Besides telephoning home-bound church members and regularly sending cards, they make home visits, based upon assignments at monthly meetings.The goal of the Visiting Elders is to insure that those no longer able to attend church because of disability or infirmity remain within our congregation's circle of care. New volunteers are always welcome the Visiting Elders. Training and orientation are provided. Monthly meetings are announced through the monthly Tidings newsletter and e-mail .
Caregivers Support Group
The St. Paul Caregivers Group provides guidance and support to church members who are providing long-term care to a parent, spouse, or child. In a confidential and mutually supportive setting, church members have an opportunity to share their particular needs and concerns as caregivers. Valuable tips are often exchanged by participants. Periodic guest speakers with special expertise on wide-ranging care giving topics add to the information available to participants. Led by the senior pastor and our parish nurse, the Caregivers Group is open to all church members and friends. It meets on the last Monday evening of each month.
Shalom – Cancer Survivors Support Group
Shalom is an ancient Hebrew word, embraced by Christians, meaning completeness, wholeness, peace, health, fullness, rest, and harmony—in other words, the absence of anxiety or fear. Meeting monthly at St. Paul United Church of Christ, the Shalom Cancer Support Group provides an opportunity for cancer survivors to discuss their ongoing challenges and needs in a mutually supportive and empathetic environment positively focused on continued healing. Shalom is led by parish nurse Kathy Williams.
"Good Grief" Bereavement Ministry
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) At St. Paul Church we seek to be part of the blessing God bestows on those who mourn as we reach out to provide support and comfort. Our senior pastor spends time with every family who has sustained a loss. This is not only reflected in the pastoral prayers offered at either the hospital or at home, but also in the very personalized funeral eulogy and worship service offered by the pastor as the bereaved family confronts death and commends their loved one to God's eternal care. Additional services of remembrance are also held with the entire congregation participating to assist families with the grieving process. On the Sunday after the funeral or memorial service, a prayer is said for the deceased and his or her family from the pulpit. At our church's annual Totenfest or Memorial Sunday Service in November, following All Saints' Day, the bereaved are invited to light a candle on the altar in memory of their family member. A special responsive liturgy using the words of the Apostle Paul on the promise of the resurrection is integral to the service. (1 Corinthians 15) Moreover, before the final hymn and benediction, the names of all who have died in the preceding twelve months are read aloud as the church bell is individually tolled for them. Similarly, on an early December weeknight, a "Blue Christmas" Service is held in our church sanctuary for grieving individuals and families to share memories of past Christmases and to talk about the challenge of coping with the holiday when so much is changed. Throughout the year church members receive periodic cards and telephone calls from our pastor, parish nurse and Visiting Elders, along with helpful and reassuring literature about the grieving process which help temper anxiety and loneliness. Referrals to excellent and free grief support groups in our immediate Downriver area are also provided.
Mind, Body, and Spirit Classes
From September to June a variety of special programs and multi-session classes are held at St. Paul United Church of Christ that promote health and healing from a spiritually oriented perspective. Recent health-related programs have addressed personal nutrition, diabetes management, and stress reduction.