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Showing you care through parish nursing

At some point in our lives, every one of us has been blessed through the actions of a skilled and caring nurse.

Each day in the U.S., millions of nurses provide compassionate physical and emotional care. Through the WELS Parish Nursing program, WELS nurses can also provide a third facet of care to members of their congregations and communities: spiritual encouragement as they share the love of Christ with those who are hurting.

The WELS Parish Nursing program, a component of the WELS Nurses Association (WELSNA), was established to “educate and support parish nurse ministries within our congregations as our nurses serve the Lord with their God-given nursing skills.”

RN Carrie Feil leads a CPR class for members of Abiding Faith and the community.

Multiple WELS congregations throughout the country are blessed through the services of caring parish nurses. For these nurses, being able to combine their passion for nursing with serving their fellow church members out of love for their Savior is incredibly fulfilling. Allison Spaude, communications coordinator for WELSNA, says, “I have heard from many parish nurses that parish nursing is the most rewarding nursing position they have held.”

One of those WELS parish nurses is Carrie Feil, a registered nurse and member at Abiding Faith, Smyrna, Tenn. Several years ago, Feil approached Keith Schleis, pastor at Abiding Faith, and the church’s leadership to ask about starting a parish nursing program at the congregation. “Carrie always wanted to serve in this way, and we use the program for outreach,” says Schleis.

Although the program may seem more like “inreach” on the surface, Abiding Faith promotes the program to the community using a digital app. Says Schleis, “So many people research your digital and social presence before coming in the church door, and having a smiling parish nurse along with our other community connections communicates our love for our neighbor. They remember us because they see we care.”

Feil was thrilled to get started. “I really wanted to be able to serve my congregation in some way,” she recalls, “and parish nursing sounded like a wonderful opportunity.”

So what form does Feil’s service take at Abiding Faith? As a health educator, she teaches and arranges educational programs, like CPR classes. As a health counselor, Feil meets with members to listen to their concerns and provide resources and referrals. For example, if a member is unsure of what type of physician to go to for a particular health concern, she can guide them to the targeted care they need.

In addition, Feil also serves as a community liaison. Since she is familiar with the various health and social agencies in the Smyrna area, she can refer the members of Abiding Faith to community resources that meet their needs, both physical and emotional.

But the opportunity to reflect God’s love in her parish nursing role is key for Feil. “It is so rewarding to feel like I can make a difference in someone’s life,” she says. “I can help someone feel just a little bit better or provide resources for them to take a step in the right direction while sharing my faith and love of Jesus.”

She continues, “In this world with so much turmoil, I want to share a little kindness. I consider the members of Abiding Faith my family, and I will do whatever I can to help my family. I look forward to serving Abiding Faith for many years to come.”

Some of our larger WELS congregations are blessed with parish nursing programs served by multiple nurses. But Abiding Faith in Tennessee is proof that even a single nurse with a heart for serving God’s people can make a lasting physical, emotional, and spiritual impact.

Volume 107, Number 10
Issue: October 2020

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