“Parish nurse programs don’t get honored often,” said Carol Bradford upon receiving her award at the Kentucky Council of Churches banquet. In fact, neither do health ministries generally. And yet, health and wholeness are central to the work of churches walking in the way of Jesus Christ, the “Great Physician.”
For this reason, the Council explored health ministry themes at the Council’s 2012 annual assembly in Morehead, and honored health ministry models at the 2013 assembly at Kentucky Dam Village State Park. The three ministries were chosen for their excellence in service, the distinctive models of work they represent, and their geographic diversity. As Mistress of Ceremonies at the awards banquet, the Rev. Elise Johnstone of Georgetown described each awardee’s work and presented certificates.
Parish Nurses and Hospital Outreach:
Nurse and teacher Carol Bradford’s work represents a model in which hospitals do health and wellness outreach in partnership with nurses who in turn are based in congregations and parishes. Two hospitals in Paducah, Lourdes and Baptist Health, cooperate in this work that extends as far as West Tennessee and Southern Illinois. The parish-based nurses work as part of the ministry team alongside pastors and volunteers.
The Rev. Mark Howell was honored for his work and the work of Mission Frankfort Clinic. Housed in First Baptist Church in Frankfort, Mission Frankfort’s clinics now include dental, medical and pharmacy services. Most patients struggle with chronic disease and have no other access to care. Rev. Howell told the heart-wrenching story of just one such patient, a man who was in great pain but had never been diagnosed or treated until he came to the Clinic.
Mr. Rich Seckel’s work as Director of the Kentucky Equal Justice Center (KEJC) has involved him deeply in public policy work and legal work, with a strong focus in the area of health. As a leader in the field of advocacy for improvements for health of Kentuckians, Rich Seckel was one of a small group of persons who brought the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky into being. He also was instrumental in creating and guiding Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of health advocacy organizations and individuals.
Churches wanting to know more about how to be involved in health ministries in these ways may contact these awardees directly or through the Council.