Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between a parish nurse and a faith community nurse?
The two are one and the same. Faith community nurse is a more inclusive title and reflects the fact that nurses of all faiths and religions are welcomed. Faith Community Nursing also is the phrase used in the Scope and Standards of Practice recognized by the American Nurses Association.

How did Parish Nursing start?
The Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg began parish nursing in the mid-1980’s in Chicago, as a reincarnation of the faith community nursing outreach done by religious orders, such as the “Parish Deaconesses” in Europe and America in the 1800’s.  Earlier, Westberg had helped to launch several “Wholistic Health Centers” in local congregations to provide a team approach to wellness as well as illness care in local congregations, using clergy, physicians, nurses, and social workers.  Rev. Westberg observed that nurses provided a vital link between health systems and congregations.  He urged his hospital to launch a program in area congregations to provide “parish nurses” who would reach out into the community to build bridges of healing and hope. Visit the website of the  Westburg Institute for Faith Community Nursing for more information.

What is the role of the faith community/congregation?
The role of the faith community is to support health ministries, with each person taking responsibility for his/her health and caring for the health of others.

What if my faith community does not have a health ministry emphasis?
Encourage them to develop a health ministry program. You might even suggest that they pick up the cost for the Basic Preparation Class for Parish Nurses / Faith Community Nurses as an indication of their investment in health ministries. We also have available Faith Community / Congregational Resources that will help in this process. We also ask that your faith leader or pastor give you a letter of recommendation.

There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.
— Swiss Catholic priest Hans Küng, opening address at the opening of the Exhibit on the World’s Religions at Santa Clara University, March 31, 2005

All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness… the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.
— His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is not only urgent but critical to the survival of the human species. In our globalized, blended world, where different religions and cultures encounter each other daily, you will have nothing but turmoil and violence unless you actively promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to achieve harmony and understanding.
— Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies in American University’s School of International Service and a trustee for the World Faiths Development Dialogue.

Is any faith group or religion excluded?
Definitely not. Every effort is made to help people enrolled in the classes develop a health ministry program that honors and upholds each person’s faith tradition. There are Jewish Congregational Nurses, Muslim Crescent Nurses, and registered nurses serving in similar capacities within other faith traditions as well. Faith community nursing can be tailored to any faith tradition as it utilizes the faith beliefs and traditions of the community in which it functions.

Are these paid positions?
Except when located in hospitals, these tend to be volunteer positions; however, some churches do pay for this service and there is a growing trend for a group of churches to hire a parish nurse or faith community nurse. Whatever the arrangement, it is important the faith community nurse / parish nurse / health minister be considered part of the professional team.

How many Faith Community Nurses are there?
Currently there about 15,000 faith community nurses around the United States and abroad. More than 3,000 of those RNs received their Foundations in Faith Community Nursing training through the organizations which have joined together to become Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries now named Faith Community Nursing/Health Ministries Northwest. At present, there are faith community nurses in Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, England, Ghana, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Swaziland, Ukraine, Wales, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

How can one connect with other Faith Community Nurses?
Become a member of Faith Community Nursing/Health Ministries Northwest (FCN/HMN) and connect with several hundred faith community nurses, health ministers, clergy and congregations across the region. You will receive our monthly eNotes, our quarterly newsletter, access to use of the electronic documentation system developed by Henry Ford Macomb Health System in Detroit, Michigan, a discount to any retreats or conferences hosted by our organization, and have email access to several faith community nurse coordinators who support health ministry teams across our NW region.

Also, visit the website of the Westburg Institute for Faith Community Nursing for more information and resources about faith community nursing and health ministries, including the Westberg Symposium, the annual professional meeting for faith community nurses and others interested in health ministries.


For more information contact:
Executive Director
Amelia Vader