Our Part in Church

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by Sharon Strong, Director of Christian Science Nursing

We often talk about the Manual bylaw for Christian Science Nurses, Article 8, Section 3 1. But there’s another bylaw–Article 8, Section 15–which sets the stage for serving in Christian Science nursing organizations. It’s called, “Church Organizations Ample,” and it reads in part:

God requires our whole heart, and He supplies within the wide channels of the Mother Church dutiful and sufficient occupation for all its members.

Christian Science nursing organizations are among those “wide channels of The Mother Church.” They give opportunities for Mother Church members to be active in the healing work of Christian Science.

Fern Lodge is an activity of Church, the “structure of Truth and Love…” that “rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle,” Science and Health, 583. Some proofs of its utility are facility nursing care, home nursing visits, branch church workshops, and nursing education programs. All these activities are elevating the race and rousing dormant understanding, healing the sick.

Our dedicated staff reflects the divine qualities of cheerfulness, faithfulness, persistence, spiritual intuition, humor, dedication, and conviction of the Truth! They have cared for our full house of 21 patients over the last year. Some healings we have witnessed are: patients becoming more conscious of their worth; protection from, or quick healings of seasonal difficulties; increased mental clarity. The evening of last year’s annual meeting a healing occurred involving a case of sudden, severe mental imbalance. The truths shared on unity were so inspiring that the nurse saw the impossibility of Mind being out of order or divided against itself, and healing resulted within 24 hours. This healing was shared in an article about Christian Science nursing in the October 24, 2005 Christian Science Sentinel.

Nurses Education: Our nursing education program consists of what we term simply, Christian Science Nursing 1 and Christian Science Nursing 2. The Level I courses include an introduction to Christian Science nursing, ethics, mobility, personal care, moving and handling, bed care, foods and tray service. Level 2 provides instruction in dressings and bandaging, sudden needs, more ethics, advanced foods, special needs, care of mental needs, and home nursing. Nurses learn skills under the watchful guidance of instructors in a classroom setting and are lovingly shepherded on the nursing floor by supervisors and mentors as they refine their nursing skills and approach.

The nursing courses at Fern Lodge cover the same nursing principles and practices as other Christian Science Nurses Training schools and facilities, such as those offered at Arden Wood or Chestnut Hill. One difference is that nurses at Fern Lodge may learn on a part time or full time basis, as fits their needs. We are committed to providing the field with Christian Science nurses who meet the high standards of the Manual bylaw, and whose prayerful focus and practical approaches are meeting needs with competency and poise.

Grass Valley Class: A unique group of three dedicated women has come together in the Sierra foothills to learn nursing. This God-inspired, innovative way of learning nursing is a blessing to the communities where they live. They’ve taken a responsible approach to identifying and meeting the qualifications for the Christian Science nurse, which includes being mentored by the experienced nurses at Fern Lodge.

The bylaw for the nurse clearly spells out the qualifications required–demonstrable knowledge of Christian Science practice, a thorough understanding of the practical wisdom necessary in a sickroom, an ability to take proper care of the sick–but in no way does the Manual define or prescribe a specific method in which the nurse must fulfill those requirements. This is between the individual and God.

Occasionally these pioneers have been asked if their training “counts,” or “when are they going to get real training?” And we sometimes hear that the only way a nurse can be properly trained nowadays is by taking courses at Arden Wood or Chestnut Hill. Our dear friends at these facilities don’t believe that! They appreciate the individuality of each student, and the many ways that people learn. This training is as real as it gets.

In Retrospection and Introspection, Mrs. Eddy refers to where Jesus taught his students, and it means a lot to those of us engaged in creative training programs: “When he was with them, a fishing boat became a sanctuary, and the solitude was peopled with holy messages from the All-Father. The grove became his classroom, and nature’s haunts were the Messiah’s university,” (page 91).

We have a new Bilingual Christian Science nurses training program! In 2004, we employed a nurse from South America who had a vision for teaching nursing to those who speak little English. We translated our nursing text into Spanish with the Spanish directly under the English. Three individuals from Peru obtained visas after we prayerfully revised all our embassy documents. These nurses are so happy to be nursing, and the patients love being cared for by them. And the best part is that these nurses are beginning to read Science and Health in English, which means a great deal in gaining the original vision and meaning from our Leader. Some of the nurses coming for nursing education will return to their native countries and teach nursing to sincere Christian Scientists there. There is a great need now for the tender ministrations of Christian Science nursing in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. This is one modest but quickly expanding way in which Fern Lodge is reaching out to help meet the needs of the world.

What are our current needs? Funding for our precious nurses education program so we can continue providing instruction for those whose lives require a flexible work schedule and classroom hours. Funding is needed for upgrading halls and rooms with paint and updated equipment and furnishings. We’d love to carpet our halls to control noise so that our patients can experience a quieter, more peaceful environment for healing. Funds are needed to continue serving those who have little means to contribute to their care but who are worthy of receiving it. And we are so grateful already for all the donations which come in to fund these worthy programs!

Meekly and quietly, we are accomplishing much in the name of Christian Science and for Christian Science nursing. We remain devoted to healing and to providing the highest standards of nursing care and expressing Christian love for our fellowman. We take and keep some tough cases and rejoice in seeing progress. Mortal mind would appear as a Goliath, shouting that it is impossible to do what we do; taunting us with lack of funding to do what divine Mind inspires and directs us to do; even suggesting that the work is too difficult or tiring, or that the nurses are unappreciated or overlooked.

We are grateful for David’s words, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Your servants, Christian Science nurses, are going face to face with these Goliath-taunts daily, and they are defeating them with gratitude. Our hearts overflow with so much gratitude for all Christian Science nurses and practitioners, working with all patients for Christian Science healing.

Sharon Strong
Director of Christian Science Nursing

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