Here in the Midwest, the days are getting shorter. The sun is not up when I am up at 5AM; and it goes to sleep even before I do about 9PM. I suppose we still get 14 hours or so of daylight, but that won't last. The morning sun will rise later and retire earlier. Maybe I should live in the north parts of Norway or Sweden or Finland - or maybe even Alaska when daylight may be limited to just a few short hours and the rest of the time it's dark.
For many folks, such limited daylight hours can be very depressing. (We've been hearing a lot about depression lately with the death of Robin Williams.) We human animals require sunlight and day to be healthy but we can have artificial light 24 hours, around-the-clock. Do we require darkness?
God is surely a light to our feet and a lamp unto our paths; but can God be found in the darkness?
Last week we read the account from I Kings of the prophet Elijah fleeing for his life and feeling most abandoned, most depressed. There's lightning and thunder and fire, but God is not to be found in any of those powerful expressions.
No - God is there in the sheer silence; and though the writer does not include this detail, I'm pretty sure it's dark. In Elijah's soul and all around him.
Take a moment of silence. OK, maybe several moments of silence and listen - listen for the voice of God that speaks peace and wholeness and love - to you and all of creation.
Rev Ellen Arthur, MDiv
Pastor of Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Antioch, IL
Faith Community Nursing Certification
On Friday, August 29, 2014, the ANCC officially launched the certification through portfolio for Faith Community Nursing. The “Apply Online” link to the online portfolio application system on the ANCC specialty webpage for FAITH COMMUNITY NURSING was fully activated and is now ready to accept applications.
Rev. Karen MacDonald, M.Div.
HMA Director for Spiritual Leadership
Interfaith Community Services, Tucson, AZ
A popular, well-loved, brilliant comedian and actor takes his own life, devastating loved ones and stunning the public. A respected, active local minister takes his own life, leaving a family, congregation, and community wrestling with grief and anger and loss. (This happened in Tucson and happens in many communities) The son of a nationally-known, influential pastor takes his own life, throwing open for public discussion suicide and the faith community.
Sometimes the conversations these sad happenings spark are less than helpful. Suicide is not an act of selfishness, nor of a failure of character, nor of a lack of faith. It is an act of someone in desperate psychological, emotional, spiritual, and/or physical pain whose basic goal is to make the pain stop. Faith community leaders, including clergy, health ministers, and faith community nurses can play positive roles in helping someone in pain who may be struggling with mental health issues and/or contemplating or planning suicide.
A first step is to become knowledgeable about risk factors and warning signs of possible suicide and how to respond. This education also includes understanding mental health disorders. Additionally, speak and act publicly and interpersonally to reduce the stigma built up around mental health problems and those who live with them, helping to build a healthier atmosphere.
For example, notice the language in this reflection and the resources listed below:
“Committed suicide” is associated with a sin or crime. Alternate expressions are “died by suicide” or “ended her/his life”
Rather than referring to someone as “a schizophrenic”, for example, a person-centered expression is “someone who has schizophrenia/depression, etc.
”Finally, simply reach out in compassion to someone struggling with mental health problems or contemplating ending their life—share your concerns for their well-being, listen non-judgmentally, encourage them in seeking help, enlist congregation members in ongoing support.
While it can be difficult for the struggling person and those supporting them, mental health disorders are often manageable and suicide is preventable. Faith communities with their sense of a Higher Power for strength, with their rituals and prayers, with their tapping into purpose in life, with their bonds of community offer deep resources for someone’s seeking life over death. There is hope—we offer hope.
Here are some valuable resources for addressing mental health disorders and suicide:
Mental Health Ministries: Created by a minister who lives with depression, full of faith-based resources. Sign up for the monthly e-newsletter.
In addition, Rev. Karen MacDonald (HMA Director for Spiritual Leadership) and Marion DePuit (HMA Director for Program Leadership) are happy to talk with anyone about their work in supporting congregations in serving those living with mental health issues:
Reach out in the compassion compelled by our faith. We may just save a life.
HMA Board Position Vote Results
Results of the 2014 HMA election are complete. The voting closed on August 5, 2014. Thank you to all the 137 members who voted.
Our new officers are :
Susan Carson, Vice President - 100% of votes cast
Karen McDonald, Director of Spiritual Leadership - 100% of votes cast
Nancy Durbin, Director of Faith Community Nursing - 84.4% of votes cast
Richard Parker, Nominating Committee 3yr term - 100% of votes cast
Welcome to our new officers and best wishes for successful terms of office.
Thank you to all candidates who offered their service to HMA.
Complete results of other candidates for the Director for FCN race:
Denise Viker 14.1% of votes cast
Two write in candidates
Rosa Albright 0.7% of votes cast
Faith Roberts 0.7% of votes cast
Program Resources for Health Ministry
As summer slips away, many of you turn your minds to fall programs. The Department of Health and Human Services website, is a treasure chest of information and resources related to health from reliable sources to aid in program planning. The tool-kits featured in this eblast are a jump start.
The need for blood is ever present, however what may not be widely known is that there is a large segment of the population whose donations are slow in coming. The American Red Cross conducts ongoing social media campaigns to encourage blood donation. Conducting or participating in a blood drive in your community is one of the ways health ministers and faith community nurses can be a part of the healing of their larger community.
Red Cross and Need for Blood from Diverse Communities
The need for blood is constant. In fact, every two seconds, a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Every blood donation is important and maintaining a diverse blood supply is a priority to the American Red Cross because of its importance to patients. African-American, Asian-American and Latin-American blood donors may have the unique ability to help patients with special needs.
The vast majority of blood types fall into one of the major ABO groups. However, for a small percentage of the population, finding someone else with the same blood type can be as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.
Red blood cells carry markers called antigens on their surface that determine one’s blood type. There are more than 600 known antigens besides A and B. Certain blood types are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups. Therefore it is essential that the ethnicity of the blood donor match more closely to that rare blood needed for specific patients.
Different ethnic and racial groups also have different frequency of the main blood types in their populations. For example, approximately 45 percent of Caucasians are type O, but 51 percent of African Americans and 57 percent of Hispanics are type O. Type O is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals. Type O negative units especially are in high demand, because they are often used in emergency situations when there is not enough time to type a patient’s blood. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Minority and diverse populations, therefore, play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood.
In addition, sickle cell disease is the most common genetic blood disease in the country, affecting more than 70,000 people. This disease affects almost all ethnicities. It especially affects people with ancestors from Africa, India, Central and South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Mediterranean nations like Italy, Greece, France and Turkey. A single patient with sickle cell can receive up to 100 pints of blood each year to continue to live with the disease. Ideally the blood should come from individuals that are of similar ethnic or genetic background to the patient. This “phenotypically similar” blood matches the patient’s own blood more closely than blood from the general donor pool. Use of this product will decrease the risk of complications related to transfusion therapy, especially in patients who receive lifelong transfusions. For this reason, it is extremely important to increase the number of available blood donors from all ethnic groups.
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
Prostate cancer is a pressing concern in men’s health. There is much debate about the techniques to identify and treat this disease. The Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) has published on its website a consensus statement that provides insight on this issue as it affects African American men.
To see this consensus statement from the PHEN and other cancer resource documents, visit our Tools page.
Domestic violence is often the elephant in the room in our communities of faith. Knowing the signs and having readily available resources to aid are one-way health ministers and faith community nurses can help in these often-volatile situation. The national health observances calendar lists October as Domestic Violence awareness month; however, it is never too early to bring this issue to the forefront. Visit our Tools page to see a newly posted tool-kit on Domestic Violence. As noted in Karen’s article, faith community leaders, including clergy, health ministers, and faith community nurses can play positive roles in helping someone in pain who may be struggling with mental health issues. Visit our Tools page to see a great example of a mental health collaborative called Mental Health Outreach: PathPoint-Behavioral Health. For more information on this collaborative, contact Jan Ingram at (805) 705-9505, jingram@SBCH.org.
We look forward to seeing many of you very soon at our conference in Washington DC! Attendance has exceeded the planning goals, creating one of our largest conferences in recent years.
For those unable to join us, follow-up information on the conference will be available in the October member e-blast and on the HMA website.
Remembering a Colleague
We join family and friends in mourning the loss of Rev. Sheryl S. Cross who died at her home on August 7, 2014 at the end of a twenty-year battle with cancer. Sheryl was beloved by her family, colleagues and friends. Cross was both a registered nurse and an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ; she served in past positions as a Deaconess Parish nurse and as an Associate Director of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Health Ministries Association from 2004 – 2008. It was her lifelong pursuit to serve by caring for others whether through faith or healing. She was a devoted community volunteer and her leadership also helped pass the resolution within the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 1997 reclaiming the church's ministry of health and healing.
Just a reminder that there are numerous educational opportunities posted on our website, go to our Educational Offerings page.
NEW Usernames & Passwords
Our new system required that we reset all usernames and passwords.
Our new system went live April 14th. If you joined as a new member on or after April 14th, DO NOT follow the steps below (keep a record of the username and password upon joining). If you were a current member on April 14th and you have not logged into the member's section to reset your password, please do so now!
Your username is the first letter of your first name and then your last name (i.e. Michelle Randall = mrandall), unless you were otherwise instructed by the HMA Office.
Your password was set to hma.
Your password can and SHOULD be changed as soon as you log into the system for the first time following April 13th. Resetting your password will make your profile more secure.