Julie Taylor is a parish nurse at Pathways United Methodist Church in Springfield, Missouri. The work of a parish nurse is a ministry of the local church.
“Some of the visible things that you do as a health minister, parish nurse, would be taking blood pressures, putting up bulletin boards with health information or a topic, like the one that’s up now is about Sabbath keeping and finding peace and being quiet. ‘Be still and know,' as the scripture says, writing a health article; speaking with different members on Sunday when you catch them in the hall or the sanctuary before or after service. Checking in with people and seeing how they’re doing.”
Taylor’s own connection with the church started when she was 15 or 16 years old. She was one of four teenage girls in her family, and those years were emotional ones, and difficult for the family. Their high school principal thought the church could be just what the family needed.
“Our principal at the time was very helpful to my folks and to all of us girls, and he was a member here at what used to be called Dale Street United Methodist Church. And so he invited us to come to church here and get involved with the youth program, and we did. And several of us, of the four girls, three of us joined the youth choir and that was one of the very big building blocks for my faith as well as my involvement with the United Methodist Church."
Soon after, Taylor decided she wanted to help people, and that becoming a nurse would allow her to do that. At the age of 17, she entered nursing school. Since receiving her diploma, she has always worked in hospital or community settings. And now, she works in the church as well.
“You can go get physical health care out in the world, but to realize that our spiritual health and our emotional health is completely one with our physical health, and that each one of those affects the other, and that our faith and our beliefs guide how we act in our life, and that is what’s going to determine our health.”
Julie Taylor spends 12 hours a week focusing on the physical, spiritual, and emotional health of the members of her church. She knows how important the church was to her and her family when she was a teenager, and she wants to help her church “be there” for other families.
“If you have people going thru life transitions, normal life transitions of aging and children growing up and leaving, and roles changing in a family; if you have teenagers at risk, if you have anyone with a health issue that’s a crisis, those are always reasons to have a health minister, a faith community nurse that they can go to for questions, for support, for resources. The pastor cannot do it all.”
Taylor is so excited about the ministry of parish nursing that she wants to see it available in more churches, and helping more people. She has a goal of letting people know more about it.
“To spread the word about and educate people in our Methodist system about health ministry and parish nursing. I feel like that’s kind of my calling is to get it to the district level, take this info to the conference level, help our churches to begin to utilize this tool of health ministry. That has been a life’s work so far.”
One of the most exciting things about her work in the church is that Taylor can use the specialized skills she has learned in the medical field, and apply them to her faith community:
“I enjoy being a parish nurse or faith community nurse because it helps me use my gifts. It helps me pursue what I feel like I was called to do in this life, to be a nurse, to make a difference. I really am energized whenever I work on programs and reach out and minister to people in that way.”
Taylor feels fortunate she has found a place to serve. She recommends the practice to others who can bring the skills of their own lives into the life of the church.
“I really believe that if we personally use the gifts that God has given us, it brings us fulfillment, it brings us joy, but also to have God’s kingdom on earth, and to make it complete, God has given gifts to make everything complete. So if we will use those gifts and bring them all together and work together as one body of believers, then we bring God’s kingdom on earth. So that’s an awesome thing.”